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Since it began screening films to the public in 1985, the American Cinematheque has provided diverse film programming and immersive in-person discussions and events with thousands of filmmakers and luminaries, presenting new and repertory cinema to Los Angeles.
Series | Peter Greenaway’s first in-person retrospective in Los Angeles since the Cinematheque’s series in 1997
Home / Moving Pictures: The Films and Teachings of Peter Greenaway
The American Cinematheque is proud to welcome maverick filmmaker and artist Peter Greenaway to this retrospective celebrating his groundbreaking work in cinema. Joining us over four days for his first in-person retrospective in Los Angeles since the AC’s series in 1997, Greenaway will discuss many of his acclaimed features and short films and deliver two 90-minute lectures exploring his filmic fascination with music and landscape.
Born in Wales and raised in Chingford, Essex, Peter Greenaway originally trained as a painter in the early 1960s, until he began making experimental short films and documentaries while working as an editor and director at the British Central Office of Information. Drawing from his extensive experience in short filmmaking, Greenaway made his feature debut in 1980 with THE FALLS, a fascinating assembly of 92 mockumentary style shorts chronicling the victims of a fictitious disaster, referred to as the “Violent Unexplained Event.” Two years later, Greenaway found international success with THE DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT, a stunningly picturesque narrative puzzle set in late 17th century rural England, that turns the whodunnit formula on its head.
In the years following, Greenaway established himself as one of the most visionary and boundary-pushing filmmakers by challenging viewers through his honest confrontations with topics such as nudity, sexuality, religion, violence, decay and death. His 1985 A ZED AND TWO NOUGHTS follows twin zoologists, who, after losing their wives to the same accident, become obsessed with their animals’—and soon their own—decompositions. Similarly, Greenaway’s next feature THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT (1987) stars a superb Brian Dennehy as the titular architect, who senses his own demise from an alarming stomach issue.
Despite dealing in taboo topics and graphic depictions, Greenaway has never shied away from the playful and humorous sides of life. For example, in DROWNING BY NUMBERS (1988), Greenaway tells the story of three similar murders, while relating the actions to various children’s games, as well as a literal numbered countdown. Greenaway’s most graphic assault on the senses (and perhaps his most renowned film) THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER (1989) revels in gluttony, violence, torture, and cannibalism, while being playfully structured as a multi-course meal at a fine dining restaurant. And likewise, the sexual violence and shockingly brutal treatment of the quasi-religious figures in THE BABY OF MÂCON (1993) are framed by the play-within-the-narrative structure, a wink to the audience that the events within the film are not real.
In each of these films, Greenaway avoids traditional narrative structures, favoring the inherently visual aspect of the medium over the textual. As a result, he is especially lauded for his magnificent compositions, which stem from his passion for painting and other visual multi-media projects, as well as his recurring interest in Renaissance, Baroque and Flemish art. In this series, we are thrilled to present these masterful moving pictures on the big screen, in celebration of one of the world’s greatest living artists.
Following Greenaway’s in-person tribute, our retrospective continues at the Los Feliz 3 in September, with screenings of PROSPERO’S BOOKS (1991), THE PILLOW BOOK (1996), 8 1/2 WOMEN (1999) and EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO (2015).
$10.00 (member); $15.00 (general admission)
Aero Theatre | Filmmaker Peter Greenaway in person
Program begins with film-illustrated lecture by Peter Greenaway, followed by a Q&A with Greenaway and screening of THE DRAUGHTSMAN’S CONTRACT. Moderated by Peter Debruge.
‘Moving Pictures: The Films and Teachings of Peter Greenaway’
Aero Theatre | Q&A with filmmaker Peter Greenaway
Los Feliz 3 | Q&A with Peter Greenaway and Pip Greenaway
Los Feliz 3 | Q&A with filmmaker Peter Greenaway
Los Feliz 3 | Introduction by filmmaker Peter Greenaway
Aero Theatre | Filmmaker Peter Greenaway in person.
Program begins with film-illustrated lecture by Peter Greenaway, followed by a screening of DROWNING BY NUMBERS and Q&A with Greenaway
$8.00 (member); $13.00 (general admission)
Los Feliz 3 | ‘Moving Pictures: The Films and Teachings of Peter Greenaway’
Los Feliz 3 | Q&A following with actor Vivian Wu.
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