What happens behind the walls of a high school? Does a college degree make one an adult? And when one looks back on one’s own childhood, what images emerge? Unknown Pleasures #13 presents a selection of recent US independent films, in which growing up in difficult times is always explored. In his autobiographical film THE CATHEDRAL, Ricky D'Ambrose offers the double portrait of a childhood and a country in crisis. Does a college degree, asks Kit Zauhar in her debut ACTUAL PEOPLE, really represent a watershed that promises a successful life? On the other hand, TEENAGE EMOTIONS, a film that Frédéric Das made with his students during school breaks, is about the inner life of a high school. In the opening film, ALMA’S RAINBOW (1994), a beautiful rediscovery, a young woman is confronted with the question of how, and on whose terms, she wants to grow up. There have been numerous important efforts to ensure that forgotten films are once again accessible. ALMA’S RAINBOW, directed by Ayoka Chenzira, whose mentor was Kathleen Collins (Losing Ground), is a stunning example.
One of the most impressive rediscoveries of recent years is the oeuvre of Michael Roemer. Born into a Jewish family in Berlin on January 1, 1928, Roemer managed to escape to London in 1939 on a Kindertransport. A few years later, he moved to the United States, where he studied at Harvard. Having been forbidden to go to the movies as a Jewish child in Berlin, he developed a keen interest in film. His debut NOTHING BUT A MAN (1964), which was made with his producer and cinematographer Robert M. Young and is about a Black railroad worker and the racism that he and his wife are confronted with, was a pioneering achievement. In the years that followed, Roemer made four more feature-length films, which were either shown on television to great acclaim (DYING, 1976) or were quickly forgotten after their premieres (PILGRIM, FAREWELL, 1982). He went on to make two more outstanding films: THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY (1969), a Jewish gangster comedy and a New York film at its best, and VENGEANCE IS MINE (1984), a family drama starring Brooke Adams. Presented as part of UP#13, this retrospective features all of Michael Roemer's feature-length films – it is the first time this extraordinary body of work will be screened in the city of the director’s birth. (Hannes Brühwiler)
We sincerely thank Jake Perlin for bringing this Michael Roemer retrospective to fruition.
We would like to thank the US Embassy in Berlin for their support.