Take a seat | The current of UCSB

Want to go back to the theatre? You’re lucky. The Pollock Theater will return to in-person screenings of some of the world’s best movies and TV shows, from comedy to heartbreaking drama to sci-fi and more.

“We’re really excited to be returning to theater,” said Patrice Petro, professor of film and media studies at UC Santa Barbara and director Dick Wolf of the Carsey-Wolf Center and presidential chair of media studies. “It’s been over two years since we’ve been able to do public programming in person, rather than remotely via Zoom. We’ve been planning our return to the theater for months and can’t wait to open things up in April.

All Pollock Theater screenings will be subject to its COVID policies, including proof of full vaccination and the wearing of a mask throughout the event.

It’s tempting to think that returning to in-person events would boost audience participation in Carsey-Wolf Center programming, which during the pandemic was limited to viewing via Zoom. But Petro said that in some cases, remote broadcasts drew larger audiences than live ones.

His interview with “Queen’s Gambit” co-creator and director Frank Scott, a UCSB alumnus, for example, drew 200 more attendees than the Pollock seats. The discussion about the South Korean movie “Parasite” attracted a large audience and the most questions it encountered.

“I could go on, but you understand,” Petro said. “I think our programming has been successful both in person and remotely. With Zoom, we were able to invite guests who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to travel here. Our recent event on the Spanish TV series “Veneno” engaged one of the show’s leading actresses, who joined us from Spain. I also think the liveliness of Zoom — we might not have met in person, in a shared space, but we were meeting in real time — helped drive audience engagement.

Live screenings begin Tuesday, April 5 at 7 p.m. with “Death in Venice,” Luchino Visconti’s 1971 adaptation of German author Thomas Mann’s classic short story. Set to music by Gustav Mahler, it is a meditation on the relationship between art and artist — both the film’s protagonist, a composer named Gustav von Aschenbach, as well as Visconti himself as director and author, said Stephanie Malia Hom, a UCSB assistant professor of transnational Italian studies in the department of French and Italian. She will lead a discussion with Joan Ramon Resina, author of “Luchino Visconti: filmmaker and philosopher”.

“That relationship is an ever-troubled relationship,” she said, “a relationship that is thrown into relief by death, especially in one city, Venice, that is, for all intents and purposes, As the city physically sinks into the lagoon, it is also besieged by an outbreak of cholera, the scale of which is downplayed by public officials in the film.

“The storyline is all too familiar, appearing to parallel the beginnings of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States,” Hom continued. “Indeed, the current pandemic has brought death and dying into our public consciousness on a scale not seen since wars past, and ‘Death in Venice’ asks us to reflect on what it means to seek beauty and create art at the end of life.”

Two days later, on April 7 at 7 p.m., the Pollock will screen the documentary “Manzanar, diverted: when water becomes dust”. The film explores the intertwined histories of the interned Japanese Americans, Owens Valley Indigenous peoples, and conservationists. Film and Media Studies graduate student Kelsey Moore will host a post-screening discussion with director Ann Kaneko. This event is co-presented with UCSB Arts & Lectures.

As Moore notes, Manzanar has long been the archetype of the 10 “camps” that housed more than 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. Her maternal family was interned at Heart Mountain Camp in northwest Wyoming, and she traveled to Manzanar several times.

Although Manzanar, located just 10 miles north of Lone Pine off Highway 395, is the best known of the camps, its relationship to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity and colonial history of the Owens Valley is little known.

“This film unpacks those deeper intersections by starring the descendants of those stories and putting them in intimate conversation with one another,” Moore said. “In doing so, it asks us to consider Manzanar critically beyond the boundaries of its own status as a National Historic Site. The bureaucratic and environmental threats to the Valley and its people persist, and I look forward to hearing more about how Ann Kaneko addressed these tensions between past and present through the film’s integration of archival footage and personal testimonials.

After “Death in Venice” and “Manzanar Diverted”, here is an overview of what is planned for the series:

• “Murder in Paris: The Assassination of Dulcie September”, Tuesday, April 12 at 7 p.m., with Jean Beaman, Associate Professor of Sociology, Ricardo Jacobs, Assistant Professor of Global Studies, and Leonard Cortana from NYU.

• “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché”, Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m., with co-writer/director Pamela B. Green and co-writer Joan Simon. Moderated by Cynthia Felando, Lecturer in Film and Media Studies.

• “Timbuktu”, Thursday 28 April at 7 pm, with director Abderrahmane Sissako. Moderated by Richard Watts of the University of Washington.

• Global TV: “Scenes from a Marriage”, Tuesday May 3 at 7pm, with Rick Rosen, co-founder of WME Agency and representative of director Hagai Levi. Moderated by Patrice Petro.

• “Arrival”, Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m., with Jennifer Rhee from Virginia Commonwealth University. Moderated by Melody Jue, Associate Professor of English. Presented in collaboration with UCSB Reads 2022.

• Global TV: Squid Game”, Thursday, May 12 at 7 p.m., with production designer Chae Kyoung-sun. Moderated by Rita Raley, English teacher.

• “Exposer Muybridge”, Thursday May 19 at 7 pm, with screenwriter/director Marc Shaffer. Moderated by Cristina Venegas, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies.

• Script on Screen: “Booksmart,” Saturday, May 21 at 2 p.m., with writer Katie Silberman. Moderated by Pollock Theater Manager Matt Ryan.

• Global TV: “Inspecteur Montalbano”, Tuesday May 24, at 2 p.m., with Stéphanie Malia Hom. Moderated by Anna Brusutti, Lecturer in Film and Media Studies.

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