Abel Ferrara Retrospective (Jan. 7 - 18) Full Info & Schedule



Abel Ferrara in person for opening night, Friday, January 7, as well as for selected screenings throughout the series!

Anthology has been devoted to showing the work of legendary American independent filmmaker Abel Ferrara for many years, and so we’re thrilled to be presenting a series focusing on his work over the past decade, including his two most recent films, MULBERRY ST. and NAPOLI NAPOLI NAPOLI.

The financial and logistical challenges independent filmmakers face in pursuing their art have risen dramatically since the collapse of much of the infrastructure that had supported this realm of cinema throughout the 90s. But Ferrara has proven unstoppable, making movies some way, some how, no matter how daunting the obstacles. Fueled by his supernova-like creative drive, he and his group have willed into being five unforgettable films, each of them intensely personal, profoundly collaborative, and enormously entertaining. We will be showcasing all of them together, encompassing two masterful fiction features (MARY and GO GO TALES) and, more recently, a trilogy of documentaries focusing on topics very close to his heart: CHELSEA ON THE ROCKS on the legendary Chelsea Hotel; MULBERRY ST., a portrait of his Little Italy stomping grounds; and NAPOLI NAPOLI NAPOLI, a documentary/fiction hybrid exploring the people and culture of the notorious southern Italian city.

We are very pleased to welcome Ferrara back to Anthology to present a survey of his work over the past decade, with screenings of five films that find him working at the height of his powers.

Special thanks to Abel Ferrara and Michael M. Bilandic.

Michael M. Bilandic’s HAPPY LIFE, produced by Abel Ferrara, will screen as part of the New Filmmakers series on Tuesday, January 11.

To be screened:

(2007, 96 minutes, 35mm. With Willem Dafoe, Matthew Modine, Bob Hoskins, Asia Argento, Shanyn Leigh, Roy Dotrice, Riccardo Scamarcio, Stefania Rocca, Bianca Balti, Lou Doillon, Sylvia Miles, Burt Young, Joe Cortese, and Anita Pallenberg.)

Ferrara’s most recent fictional feature was this enormously entertaining, heartfelt, and rousing strip-club-set ensemble comedy, filmed at Rome’s legendary studio, Cinecittà, and studded with vivid performances from a host of gifted actors, including Matthew Modine, Bob Hoskins, the great Sylvia Miles, and Asia Argento (whose brief but memorable appearance finds her locking lips with a rottweiler). GO GO TALES is presided over by Willem Dafoe, in a tour-de-force performance as Ray Ruby, an impresario/dreamer desperate to save the financially-strapped venue – Ray Ruby’s Paradise Lounge – which in his hands functions as a combination strip-club, vaudeville theater, and rag-tag family. Ray is in many ways a self-portrait on Ferrara’s part, and indeed, the functioning of the club is reflected in Ferrara’s orchestration of the various characters, plot lines, and tones, a (barely) controlled chaos that somehow hangs together brilliantly.

“Ferrara’s 16th feature – and his second, after MARY, since he decamped for Rome a few years ago – is his first flat-out comedy. The press book name-checks Wilder, Sturges, and Capra, and he has described it…as ‘CHEERS meets THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE.’ But…GO GO TALES is also an allegory: a portrait of the artist as a hustler, a gambler, a performer, a dreamer, an addict, a throwback, a holdout, and, of course, a purveyor of good old-fashioned T&A;, navigating the screw-or-be-screwed questions common to all exploitative professions, indeed to modern capitalist systems. You could say this one comes from the heart.” –Dennis Lim, CINEMA SCOPE

–Friday, January 7 through Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00 nightly.

(2005, 83 minutes, 35mm. With Juliette Binoche, Forest Whitaker, Matthew Modine, Heather Graham, and Marion Cotillard. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Venice Film Festival.)

“Though a mere 83 minutes, MARY is its own double bill – a response to THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST in which the director (and star!) of a Jesus film (Modine) called THIS IS MY BLOOD is a fantastic amalgam of MelGibson and Ferrara himself. Everyone in this jagged construction – which incorporates all manner of newsreel footage – is perched on the edge of hysteria. Speaking for confused filmmakers everywhere, Ferrara’s alter ego winds up barricaded in a projection booth, unclear whether his movie is a terrorist threat to society or vice versa.” –J. Hoberman, VILLAGE VOICE

“As inspired and unhinged as any movie [Ferrara] has ever made. … Provocative, incendiary and borderline hysterical, MARY is Ferrara’s most explicit exploration of his own tortured Catholicism.” – Sam Adams, PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER

–Friday, January 7, Tuesday, January 11, and Monday, January 17 at 9:15 each night.

(2009, 87 minutes, video.)
One of two Italian-themed documentaries Ferrara made in 2009, this is his fond portrait of the neighborhood he has made his NYC base in recent years, Manhattan’s Little Italy – ever-shrinking but, on the evidence of this film, still boasting its fair share of charismatic and memorable characters. Filmed on and around Mulberry Street, during the annual San Gennaro street festival, this documentary is something like a cinematic equivalent of a street fair – festive, supremely laid-back, loosely structured, and extremely enjoyable. And Ferrara is so enthusiastic and unrestrained an on-screen host/tour-guide that MULBERRY ST. becomes, almost incidentally, the documentary portrait ofFerrara at work and at play that we’ve been waiting for.

–Saturday, January 8 at 4:45, Sunday, January 9 at 9:15, Wednesday, January 12 at 9:15, Saturday, January 15 at 9:15, and Sunday, January 16 at 5:00.

(2009, 102 minutes, 35mm. In English and Italian with English subtitles.)
Ferrara’s most recent film is not only a portrait of the city of Naples, but a penetrating glimpse into its humanity, at once vital and brutal, passionate and cruel. With the help of ex-prisoner Gaetano Di Vaio, Ferrara carried out a series of interviews with women held in the Pozzuoli female penitentiary. Struck by their testimony, he decided to graft their life stories onto three different narratives, with scripts written by Peppe Lanzetta, Maurizio Braucci, and Di Vaio. Di Vaio’s episode is inspired by his actual experience as a convict; Braucci’s depicts a sad and brutal childhood; and Lanzetta’s is a family melodrama of violence, expectations, and vengeance. By interweaving reality and fiction, this innovative docudrama is a complex and compelling mosaic, fascinating yet indecipherable, much like the city of Naples itself.

–Saturday, January 8 at 9:15, Sunday, January 9 at 4:30, Thursday, January 13 at 9:15,Saturday, January 15 at 4:30, and Sunday, January 16 at 9:15.

(2008, 89 minutes, 35mm. With Vito Acconci, Stanley Bard, Jamie Burke, Ira Cohen, Robert Crumb, Giancarlo Esposito, Milos Forman, Adam Goldberg, Ethan Hawke, Gaby Hoffmann, Dennis Hopper, Grace Jones, Aline Kominsky, and Bijou Phillips.)

A fascinating, freewheeling personal journey inside the walls, history, and mythology of Manhattan’s celebrated bohemian landmark, the Chelsea Hotel, famed home to such icons as Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Tennessee Williams, Charles Bukowski, Andy Warhol, and Mark Twain, and perennial shelter to artists great and small. Including interviews with residents past and present, vintage music and archival footage, and dramatic re-enactments summoning ghosts of the Chelsea’s storied past – Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, Janis Joplin, and others – CHELSEA passionately shows how it’s often the misfit structures – and citizens – that possess a city’s soul.

–Monday, January 10, Friday, January 14, and Tuesday, January 18 at 9:15 each night.


About Anthology Film Archives: Founded in 1970, Anthology's mission is to preserve, exhibit, and promote public and scholarly understanding of independent, classic, and avant-gardecinema. Anthology screens more than 900 film and video programs per year, publishes books and catalogs annually, and has preserved more than 800 films to date.

Directions: Anthology is at 32 Second Ave. at 2nd St. Subway: F to 2nd Ave; 6 to Bleecker. Tickets: $9 general; $8 Essential Cinema (free for members); $7 for students, seniors, & children (12 & under); $6 AFA members.

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