University Film Series

Tuesdays, 7:30pm in the Little Theatre (Ayres 106)
$3 donation appreciated

Director: Sarah Pike
Phone: 530-898-6341


* The Humanities Center’s theme for this year is “Invention”.

Jan. 31Hugo

(UK/USA/France 2011) 126 minutes. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Introduction by Brunella Windsor, International Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Based on Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Scorsese’s Hugo is an ode to the beginning of cinema, as a young boy attempts to recover a damaged automaton and ends up uncovering the forgotten story of a filmmaking visionary.  

Feb. 07Steamboy

(Japan 2004) 126 minutes. Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Introduction by Clara Bergamini.

An animated steampunk film, Steamboy follows Akira as Otomo’s second anime feature. Set in 1851 London during the Great Exhibition, the film offers “a critique of Western culture: It uses issues such as industrialism, domination, mass destruction, ambition and despotism as a background to what feels like a boys’ book adventure.” (Stephen Hunter, Washington Post)

Feb. 1420,000 Leagues Under the Sea

(USA 1954) 127 minutes. Directed by Richard Flesicher.  Introduction by Sarah Pike, Comparative Religion.

“As fabulous and fantastic as anything he has ever done in cartoons is Walt Disney's ‘live action’ movie made from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Turned out in CinemaScope and color, it should prove a sensation—at least with the kids.” (Bosley Crowther, 1954 review, New York Times)

Feb. 21Street of Crocodiles and other short films by the Brothers Quay

Introduction by Jason Tannen.

Stop-motion animators and identical twins, the Brothers Quay’s films often feature puppets made from reconfigured doll parts.  Street of Crocodiles (21 minutes) is “likely to linger in your mind for decades... With its wordless poetry, the Quays' extraordinary vignette tells us a million things: how longing can be both oblique and consuming; why it's only human to succumb to the promises of the modern world; what despair looks like, as expressed by a puppet man's doleful eyes.” (Stephanie Zacharek, The Village Voice)

Feb. 28The Wind Rises

(Japan 2013) 126 minutes. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Introduction by Nathan Heggins Bryant, English and Humanities.

A Studio Ghibli film, the final feature-length film directed by Miyazaki, The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of many Japanese fighter planes in World War II, praised as “perhaps the greatest animated film ever made” (David Ehrlich,

Mar. 07I ragazzi di via Panisperna

(Italy 1989) 123 minutes. Directed by Gianni Amelio. Introduction by Brunella Windsor, International Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Amelio’s film tells the real life story of a group of young Italian physicists who worked at the Institute of Physics of Via Panisperna in Rome during the 1930s, and made the discovery of slow neutrons, paving the way for the atomic bomb.  

Mar. 21Youth

(Italy 2015) 124 minutes. Directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Introduction by Heather Altfeld, English and Honors Program.

Starring Michael Caine as a retired composer and Harvey Keitel as a filmmaker who lounge in an Alpine hotel, Youth is a “study of ageing and creativity that’s as fresh and bracing as the mountain air, although occasionally just as chilly.” (Phil De Semlyen, Empire)

Mar. 28Be Kind Rewind

(UK/USA 2008) 98 minutes. Directed by Michel Gondry. Introduction by Troy Jollimore, Philosophy.

At a VHS rental store, set to be destroyed by the age of DVDs, the single employee (Mos Def) and his best friend (Jack Black) accidentally erase all of the videos.  To prevent the solitary customer (Mia Farrow) from learning about the disaster, the friends recreate the films themselves.  Be Kind Rewind is a “valentine to disappearing analog technology” as well as a “tribute to the joy of making things with your friends.”  (Dana Stevens, Slate)

Apr. 04The Hudsucker Proxy

(UK/USA 1994) 111 minutes. Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Introduction by Troy Jollimore, Philosophy.

Set in the 1950s, Norville Barnes is a naïve business-school graduate who quickly goes from mail room to the corner office.  A sassy reporter goes undercover to investigate.  “Movies are, after all, about fakery; so is the story of Norville's rise and fall and redemption.” (Caryn James, New York Times)

Apr. 11Morel’s Invention

(Italy 1974) 110 minutes. Directed by Emidio Greco. Introduction by Hannah Burdette, International Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Starring Anna Karina, Morel’s Invention is an Italian science fiction film where a shipwrecked man discovers a mysterious island of Art Deco architecture and people in 1920s garb, offering “commentary on mortality and a potent metaphor for cinema.” (Film Society Lincoln Center)

Apr. 18Before Night Falls

(USA 2000) 133 minutes. Directed by Julian Schnabel. Introduction by Rachel Middleman, Art and Art History

The story of Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, an outcast in Castro’s Cuba because of his homosexuality, the film is the second directed by the painter Schnabel, who “makes his screen a rich canvas of dream sequences, fragmented childhood memories, and the wild Cuban demimonde inhabited by Arenas and others who do not conform.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Apr. 25Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters

(USA 1995) 120 minutes. Directed by Paul Schrader. Introduction by Nathan Heggins Bryant, English and Humanities.

Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters “is the most unconventional biopic I've ever seen, and one of the best.  In a triumph of concise writing and construction, it considers three crucial aspects of the life of the Japanese author Yukio Misima (1925-1970). In black and white, we see formative scenes from his earlier years. In brilliant colors we see events from three of his most famous novels. And in realistic color we see the last day of his life.” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

May. 02Jodorowsky’s Dune

(USA/France 2013) 90 minutes. Directed by Frank Pavich. Introduction by Heather Altfeld, English and Honors Program.

The film “brings to life cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s doomed but impassioned quest to turn Frank Herbert’s titular novel into a grand, psychedelic space epic.  Not just for fanboys, the documentary is both an entertaining portrait of a unique pop-culture endeavor and an ebullient salute to the creative spirit.” (Anita Katz, San Francisco Examiner)