Best Video founder Hank Paper presents 5-film series starting Tues., May 31

Best Video founder Hank Paper returns to Best Video Film & Cultural Center to present a series “5 Great Films You Might Have Missed During the Pandemic — Or Should See Again and Discuss!” (Not Executive Director Hank Hoffman, who hasn’t left yet!)

Hank Paper founded Best Video in 1985 with 500 movies he could wholeheartedly recommend. In this series—which begins on Tues., May 31, and runs for five consecutive Tuesdays—he screens 1/100th that many movies but still ones that he thinks you need to see! Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.

“These are the films that affected me the most during the last couple of years,” Hank Paper says. There will be 2-3 minutes of intro followed by the film on our large screen and a brief discussion for those who wish to stay and discuss.

May 31: Woman at War

For those who always wanted to go to Iceland, here’s your chance to see it in this thrilling Icelandic film about a woman, who longs to adopt a child, but instead wages single-handed war against Iceland’s environmentally destructive aluminum industry. Iceland’s beautiful setting underscores the stakes of the story—and offers one of the cleverest endings of any film.

June 7: One Night in Miami

What do 4 Black icons talk about in a hotel room in Miami? It’s a fictional meeting, yes, but the content discussed could not be more real. In the aftermath of his surprising knockout of Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali meets with three friends (Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke) in a motel room to celebrate his win and discuss each’s trajectory and obligations in the crosshairs of history. Beautifully and inspiringly acted (Cooke’s songs are not only thrillingly entertaining but cleverly figure in the climax of the story), what could have been simply exploitive turns out to be thought-provoking and profound. Director Regina King’s powerful, multi-award-winning tour-de-force couldn’t come at a better time. This is history written in lightning.

June 14: Sound of Metal

…is not at all about the Punk Rock scene (it actually contains a most delicately sensitive and interesting soundscape) but about love and spiritual healing and people you’ll care about. This unique film features an unforgettable Oscar-nominated performance by Riz Ahmed in a profound journey that is rarely seen in film. In our world of sensory overload, you’ll find an oasis of surcease (so come to watch and relax!)

June 21: The Last Suit

An 88-year-old tailor runs away from his family’s plans for him, deciding instead to return a suit to an old friend that, 45 years earlier, saved his life as an escapee from a concentration camp. He doesn’t know if his friend is still alive or where he lives, and vows not to arrive there by crossing Germany. How is all this possible? This film about one man’s idiosyncratic stubbornness and the kindness of strangers is unforgettable.

June 28: Pig

If “Moonstruck,” “Raising Arizona,” and his Oscar-winning starring role in “Leaving Las Vegas” didn’t make you a Nicholas Cage fan, this film will. In this unconventional love story of a man and his pig, Cage plays a hermit whose beloved truffle-foraging pig is kidnapped, forcing him to return to Portland, Oregon seeking to get him back. You might expect another throw-away Cage revenge film but—not at all. Instead, you will find yourself on a profound spiritual odyssey exploring issues of authenticity, celebrity, gourmet cuisine, and the grace of finding something you truly care about. And—instead of the realist acting style so pervasive today—you will discover, in Cage, the deep, emotional, performative acting of a latter-day Marlon Brando. This is my favorite film of the year.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from Connecticut Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The series is also sponsored by Temple Beth Sholom. TBS members may attend free.

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” concludes with Iranian “The Salesman,” presented by Farbod Honarpisheh

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has continued its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

After screening “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium), “Timbuktu” (Mauritania), and “Shoplifters” (Japan) May 3 , 10, and 17, respectively,. the series concludes with a modern masterpiece from Iran. All the spotlighted movies were released within the past decade. Each film has been presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. The screening starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.

The series wraps up with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film “The Salesman.” Farhadi wraps a gripping drama of violence, marital discord, and patriarchy around a theater company’s attempt to mount a production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote that, “Not since Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘All About My Mother,’ which brilliantly re-engineered ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ has a classic of the American stage been put to such ingenious cinematic use.”

Farbod Honarpisheh, who presents “The Salesman,” is currently a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Film and Media Studies Program. His dissertation, “Fragmented Allegories of National Authenticity: Art and Politics of the Iranian New Wave Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s,” was completed at Columbia University. His research interests intersect film and media theory and history, critical theory, Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas, comparative modernist studies (visual and literary), intermediality, the modern city, postcolonial theory, migration, and documentary studies.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” journeys to Japan Tues., May 17, for “Shoplifters,” presented by Aaron Gerow

Love watching the movies you rent from Best Video but want to go deeper? The discussions we’ve been having after our screenings will enrich your appreciation of cinema. Plus, they’re fun!

Best Video Film & Cultural Center has continued its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

The first and second films in the series, “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium) and “Timbuktu” (Mauritania), screened on May 3 and 10, respectively. The series will showcase acclaimed movies from Japan and Iran, all released within the past decade, over the next two Tuesdays. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The remaining two films are:

Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)

Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Shoplifters,” directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, is a family drama that delves deep on themes of poverty and connection. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote, “Kore-eda’s great subject is the contemporary family, a topic that gives him an immensity of themes, including loss, love, class, alienation in the modern world and just about everything else.” It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Aaron Gerow will introduce “Shoplifters” and moderate the post-film discussion. Gerow is Professor of East Asian cinema and culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include “Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925” (2010); “A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan” (2008); and “Kitano Takeshi” (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website Tangemania (www.aarongerow.com).

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” continues Tues., May 10, with Mauritanian “Timbuktu,” presented by Dudley Andrew from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

The first film in the series, “Two Days, One Night” (Belgium), screened on May 3. The series will showcase acclaimed movies from Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade, over the next three Tuesdays. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The remaining three films are:

Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)

Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)

Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Timbuktu,” a Mauritanian/French production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and set in the Malian city, dramatizes the hardships resulting from an occupation of the city by fundamentalist jihadists. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “glory” of “Timbuktu,” according to critic A.O. Scott, “lies in its devotion to local knowledge, in the way it allows its gaze to wander away from violence toward images of beauty and grace.”

“Timbuktu” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

Secret Cinema, hosted by Rob Harmon, Mon., May 9

Best Video staffer Rob Harmon hosts another edition of a semi-regular cult film series under the rubric “Secret Cinema.” The next Secret Cinema takes place Mon., May 9, at 7:30 PM. Along with the night’s movie, Rob shows relevant film trailers and cranks up the Best Video popcorn machine for cinema-appropriate snacking.

The movie starts at 8 PM; the programming starts at 7:30 with some relevant videos chosen by Rob.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Secret Cinema is free but donations to support Best Video Film & Cultural Center and its programming are always welcome. For more info (including what the movie title is), call BVFCC at (203) 287-9286 or sign up for email list on the front page of BestVideo.com.

New film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” begins Tues., May 3, with Belgian “Two Days, One Night;” presented by Dudley Andrew from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

Starting on Tues., May 3, and running four successive Tuesdays, the series will showcase acclaimed movies from Belgium, Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The four films are:

Tues. May 3: “Two Days, One Night” (2014, Belgium, dir. by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)
Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

“Two Days, One Night” is a riveting Belgium/French/Italian social drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It follows Sandra, a factory worker played by Marion Cotillard, who attempts to return to work after a month’s medical leave for depression. She finds, however, that in the interim the company has offered her co-workers €1,000 bonuses to make her redundant, leaving her job in doubt. Over the course of two days and one night, she attempts to convince her co-workers to forego the bonuses so she can keep her job.

“Two Days, One Night” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

As an indoor event, proof of vaccination and masks are required.

“Spring Into Music” series concludes Apr. 26 with Aretha Franklin doc “Amazing Grace,” presented by Thabisa

Best Video Film & Cultural Center concludes our April “Spring Into Music” film series with the documentary “Amazing Grace” on Tues., Apr. 26. The event will begin at 7 PM with an introduction by New Haven-based Afro-soul singer and activist Thabisa, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Admission is $7.

This is an indoor show so proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required.

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The series is sponsored by Greenberg Rhein & Margolis Insurance of Woodbridge, CT.

“Amazing Grace” documents the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin recording her live gospel album of the same name at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles in 1972. Because the original director, Sydney Pollack, had not use clapperboards in the filming, it was believed the sound could not be accurately synched with the film footage; the unreleased film sat on the shelf for decades. Alan Elliott purchased the rights in 2007 and successfully synchronized the visuals and sound. The film was released with the approval of Franklin’s family in 2018.

At the performance, Franklin was accompanied by the Southern California Community Choir, directed by Alexander Hamilton. James Cleveland is master of ceremonies and plays piano. The band is Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Kenny Luper, and Poncho Morales. “Amazing Grace” was the best-selling record of Aretha Franklin’s career and won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance.

Thabisa’s story begins in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born and raised by her grandparents in KwaZakhele township, she could always be found singing and dancing outside her home. Neighbors gave her the name “Little Brenda” for the legendary South African pop star Brenda Fassie.

In 2012 she entered the national singing competition, Idols South Africa, and finished in the Top 18. The following year, she signed on with the independent record label Tammy Music and produced two albums, “Eyodidi” (2015) and “The Journey” (2013).

Thabisa received a nomination for Best Video at the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) for the song “Vula” off her first album, The Journey. Musically, she finds inspiration from the likes of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, and has shared a stage with living legends Caiphus Simenya, Bebe and Cece Winans, Thandiswa Mazwai and Freshly Ground.



Thabisa currently lives with her family in the United States. “What makes my music worthwhile, is the opportunities it opens for me to work with children and inspire them to dream big” she explained. THABISA volunteers with children using music, cultural exchange, and story-telling.

“Contemporary Classics of International Film” series in May; films to be presented by cinema experts from Yale Film & Media Studies

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues its film screening renaissance in May with a four-film series “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema.”

Starting on Tues., May 3, and running four successive Tuesdays, the series will showcase acclaimed movies from Belgium, Mauritania, Japan, and Iran, all released within the past decade. Each film will be presented by—and feature a post-film discussion led by—a faculty member of the Yale University Film & Media Studies department. Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission to each is $7.

The four films are:

Tues. May 3: “Two Days, One Night” (2014, Belgium, dir. by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 10: “Timbuktu” (2014, Mauritania, dir. by Abderrahmane Sissako, presented by Dudley Andrew)
Tues., May 17: “Shoplifters” (2018, Japan, dir. by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, presented by Aaron Gerow)
Tues., Apr. 24: “The Salesman” (2016, Iran, dir. by Asghar Farhadi, presented by Farbod Honarpisheh)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

“Two Days, One Night” is a riveting Belgium/French/Italian social drama directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. It follows Sandra, a factory worker played by Marion Cotillard, who attempts to return to work after a month’s medical leave for depression. She finds, however, that in the interim the company has offered her co-workers €1,000 bonuses to make her redundant, leaving her job in doubt. Over the course of two days and one night, she attempts to convince her co-workers to forego the bonuses so she can keep her job.

“Timbuktu,” a Mauritanian/French production directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and set in the Malian city, dramatizes the hardships resulting from an occupation of the city by fundamentalist jihadists. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, the “glory” of “Timbuktu,” according to critic A.O. Scott, “lies in its devotion to local knowledge, in the way it allows its gaze to wander away from violence toward images of beauty and grace.”

Both “Two Days, One Night” and “Timbuktu” will be introduced by Dudley Andrew, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Dudley Andrew at Yale University is biographer of “André Bazin,” whose ideas he extends in “What Cinema Is!,” “Opening Bazin,” and in his editing and translating of themed collections of Bazin. With two books on 1930s French Cinema, Andrew was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and gained the Lifetime Achievement Award from SCMS. His current projects include issues in world cinema (migration) and comparative arts.

“Shoplifters,” directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu, is a family drama that delves deep on themes of poverty and connection. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis wrote, “Kore-eda’s great subject is the contemporary family, a topic that gives him an immensity of themes, including loss, love, class, alienation in the modern world and just about everything else.” It was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Aaron Gerow will introduce “Shoplifters” and moderate the post-film discussion. Gerow is Professor of East Asian cinema and culture at Yale University and has published widely on variety of topics in Japanese film and popular culture. His books include “Visions of Japanese Modernity: Articulations of Cinema, Nation, and Spectatorship, 1895-1925” (2010); “A Page of Madness: Cinema and Modernity in 1920s Japan” (2008); and “Kitano Takeshi” (2007). He also runs his own Japanese film website Tangemania (www.aarongerow.com).

The series wraps up with Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s 2016 Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film “The Salesman.” Farhadi wraps a gripping drama of violence, marital discord, and patriarchy around a theater company’s attempt to mount a production of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote that, “Not since Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘All About My Mother,’ which brilliantly re-engineered ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ has a classic of the American stage been put to such ingenious cinematic use.”

Farbod Honarpisheh, who presents “The Salesman,” is currently a postdoctoral associate with Yale’s Film and Media Studies Program. His dissertation, “Fragmented Allegories of National Authenticity: Art and Politics of the Iranian New Wave Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s,” was completed at Columbia University. His research interests intersect film and media theory and history, critical theory, Iranian and Middle Eastern cinemas, comparative modernist studies (visual and literary), intermediality, the modern city, postcolonial theory, migration, and documentary studies.

Mark Schenker returns with 11th “How to Read a Film” series Sun., Apr. 24; focus on “The American Western”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is pleased to bring back Mark Schenker of Yale College for an 11th installment of his “How to Read a Film” series, focusing again this season on a genre rather than a director. Having presented two series on film noir and another on screwball comedy, he turns now to another distinctively American film category: the western. He will consider four great movies ranging from the 1930’s through the 1950’s—a great decade for the genre both in the theater and on TV—to the 1990’s.

The series starts Sun., Apr. 24, with the 1939 John Ford-directed “Stagecoach.” Admission to each is $7. All lectures/screenings begin at 2 PM.

The series engages with four major filmmakers and an array of actors celebrated for their work in and beyond the western genre: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, and James Stewart; Claire Trevor and Robert Ryan; Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman—along with Morgan Freeman, Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and the great character actor Millard Mitchell*—twice!

*Film fans will likely know Millard Mitchell best as the studio head in 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain.”

April 24 Stagecoach (1939) dir. John Ford

May 1 The Gunfighter (1950) dir. Henry King

May 8 The Naked Spur (1953) dir. Anthony Mann

May 15. Unforgiven (1992) dir. Clint Eastwood

Mark Schenker’s lectures are accompanied by screenings of the films to illustrate the points he is making—it’s like a live commentary track! His previous lectures on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and Billy Wilder (among others) and the historical context in which the TV series “Downton Abbey” took place were erudite and entertaining.

“Spring Into Music” series continues Tues., Apr. 19, with “Monterey Pop,” introduced & discussion moderated by Brendan Toller

Best Video Film & Cultural Center continues our April “Spring Into Music” film series with the classic documentary “Monterey Pop” on Tues., Apr. 19. The event will begin at 7 PM with an introduction by New Haven-based rock musician (Dust Hat) and documentarian (“Danny Says”) Brendan Toller, who will also lead a post-film discussion. Admission is $7.

This is an indoor show so attendance is 30 max. Proof of vaccination is required to enter and masks are required. (This will be updated if circumstances allow a loosening of these restrictions.)

Support for this series has been provided to Best Video Film & Cultural Center from CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The series is sponsored by Greenberg Rhein & Margolis Insurance of Woodbridge, CT.

“Monterey Pop” is the 1968 documentary film directed by D.A. Pennebaker that commemorates the Monterey International Pop Festival of June, 1967. The Monterey Pop festival is well-known as the first of the major rock music festivals. It was the site of breakout performances by numerous acts, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s fiery US debut and stunning sets by Ravi Shankar, The Who, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company, and many more. Monterey set the idealistic and innocent tone for the so-called Summer of Love. Arguably, it was all downhill from there for the hippie counterculture.

Brendan Toller is a New York City and New Haven, CT based filmmaker, musician & artist. Brendan’s film work has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Wire, Pitchfork, The Onion and Dazed & Confused Korea.

Toller’s first feature documentary, “I Need That Record!” (featuring Thurston Moore, Mike Watt, Ian MacKaye, and Noam Chomsky et al.) helped “…shape the “vinyl resurgence” in the 2000s, as it chronicled independent record stores and their importance in the digital age.” (Billboard)

Toller’s second feature film “Danny Says” chronicles the life and times of Danny Fields. Fields was a pivotal figure in music and culture of the late 20th century working in various roles with the Velvet Underground, the Doors, MC5, the Stooges, Patti Smith, the Ramones et al. In 2014, Danny Says was featured on the “Year in Kickstarter” next to “Reading Rainbow’s Huge Comeback” and “A Band Delivers Pizza to Space.”

“Danny Says” was acquired by Magnolia Pictures in 2016. The film was the first original selection for Art House Theater Day, an annual weekend celebration celebrating brick and mortar theaters across the US. The Danny Says theatrical and online release followed with openings in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London and more.

Toller plays guitar and sings in the high-energy party rock ’n’ roll band Dust Hat. He also regularly takes a spin aty Cafe Nine with his DJ B the T Jr Shake ‘N’ Vibrate Dance Party.