Pioneers in Film

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Former Black Panthers reunite in "Night Catches Us," part of the Magnolia Films retrospective.

In their ten-year history, Magnolia Pictures has managed to put out films for everyone and every interest: Vampires (“Let the Right One In”), Muay Thai (“Ong Bak”), high-priced call girls (“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer”); Hitchcockian thrills (“Read My Lips”); music (“Great World of Sound”) and Sasha Grey (“The Girlfriend Experience”).  This rich cinematic diversity is precisely why from Wednesday, August 24 through Wednesday, August 31, BAMcinématek is presenting 10 Years of Magnolia Pictures, a salute to the visionary independent film distribution company.

The true film fanatic should see all these films, but here are a few highlights if you can’t quit your day job and watch movies all day:

Man on Wire” (Aug. 28) is an Academy Award-winning chronicle of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the Twin Towers. Director James Marsh manages to squeeze every ounce of suspense out of the daredevil’s stunt. It’s a surprisingly stunning film that will have you on the edge of your seat.

If you prefer your suspense in the horror genre, “Let the Right One In” (Aug. 27) is a moody proto-romance between a bullied young boy and a childish vampire-like creature. The original Nordic film is darkly compelling and surprising, even if you have seen the recent American remake.

On Thursday, August 25, director Tanya Hamilton will discuss her moving drama “Night Catches Us.” The film is set in Philadelphia in the 1970s and follows two former Black Panthers who are linked by ideology, death, love, and guilt years after their revolutionary days have ended. The Panthers are played beautifully by Anthony Mackie (“The Hurt Locker”) and Kerry Washington (“Ray”) and the movie is an engrossing glimpse at the aftershocks of radicalism.

If you haven’t seen “I am Love” (“Lo Sono L’amore,” Aug. 26), simply put, you must. It is an extraordinary film that manages the seemingly impossible task of being simultaneously excruciatingly heartbreaking and heartwarming. The mercurial and chameleon-like Tilda Swinton plays Emma, the matriarch of a wealthy Italian family with three children and an opulent home, but the beauty of her life ends there. Emma’s world is flat and hollow until she meets Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a talented young chef whose cuisine rekindles her long dormant passions, and reconnects her with the glories of life.

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