A Weekend w/ John Sayles

Presented by Production For Use

“I think I’m still trying to do what I started out doing, which is to say, here’s all the stuff that I see in life that I don’t see on the big screen.” – John Sayles

One might look at John Sayles’ career and say he’s jumped genres over and over again: a baseball movie, a movie about forming a coal-miner’s union in West Virginia, a lesbian romance, a sci-fi adventure in Harlem… all in his first nine years. But these are genre films only in a limited sense (though he was certainly capable of genre greatness, as Piranha, The Howling and another dozen scripts prove), they’re settings, the details of people’s existence. Sayles is able to instill his characters (through brilliant performances by a cadre of actors returning to work with him many times) with deeply held personal belief and feeling, showing them as players in important discourses of American life.

30 years later his films still stand alone. A pioneer who fully altered the direction of American independent cinema , these films are still completely unique; like his characters, completely of their time and place and also so far beyond.


BUY TICKETS (Showtimes subject to change):
Thurs 2/18, 7:30pm: An Evening with John Sayles and Return of the Seacaucus Seven

Fri 2/19, 7:30pm: Brother From Another Planet & Piranha Double Feature

Sat 2/20, 2pm: Master Class w/ John Sayles + City of Hope

Sat 2/20, 7:30pm: Lianna & Baby It’s You w/ John Sayles in person!




Watch the trailer for “A Weekend w/ John Sayles”!


Lianna + Baby It's You (with John Sayles in person!)

2/20/2016 - 7PM

Double feature!!

35mm Restored Print Courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Co-presented by Outfest
All of the struggles in Sayles’ films are familiar, human, yet also unique to the time, place, and position the characters find themselves in. Lianna finds herself in quite a difficult time, struggling with her out-of-place sexuality in the midst of a society that isn’t ready to fully accept her. The controlled downfall of Lianna’s marriage shows the subtle writing touch that Sayles made a career of. Here, heady intellectual conversations counterbalance the sensuality of discovered feeling. At first glance, Lianna is a pioneering dissection of LGBT issues—but it’s also a carefully measured portrait of a person, deftly drawn.

Dir John Sayles, 1983, 35mm, 110 min.

Baby It’s You
John Sayles just can’t help himself. Even in the proto-typical story of good-girl-dates-bad-boy, Sayles finds brilliant ways to foreground class in the narrative. When a Sinatra-loving delinquent (Vincent Spano) falls for Jill Rosen, an upper-middle-class girl (beautifully rendered by Rosanna Arquette), there are certain paths that can’t be escaped. He’s gonna sleep around, she’s gonna go to a good college, this is just who they are. Sayles beautifully weaves a classic tale of unimpeachable difference, turning each scene back on the last, right through the finale, never losing sight of the everyday effects of social status. Imparting unexpected depth to a familiar story, his unique voice as a visual stylist and as a writer loses none of its luster in his first studio-funded effort.

Dir John Sayles, 1983, digital presentation, 105 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

Master Class w/ John Sayles + City of Hope

2/20/2016 - 2PM

General Admission Tickets include entry to the Master Class & film, VIP tickets include reserved couch seating and entry to a private reception with John Sayles prior to the program, at 1:15pm

Moderated by Oscar Nominated Screenwriter Josh Olson

John Sayles—the Godfather of Bootstrap Cinema, the original DIY filmmaker—was at the forefront of the modern independent cinema movement, when in 1979 with only $40,000 he made Return of the Secaucus Seven. A screenwriter, director, actor, editor, and producer, Sayles does it all—even a few soundtracks. If he is not making a film, then he is writing novels. If he is not writing novels, then he is writing short stories.

John has stories to tell. In this Master Class presented in partnership with the Writers Guild Foundation, he will share some of those stories and will inspire you to get out there and share your own. After the discussion, we invite you to stay for a screening of John’s digitally remastered classic City of Hope.

The Writers Guild Foundation promotes and preserves the craft, history, and voices of screen storytelling. Join us and your favorite screenwriters at this year’s WGFestival 2016, where you can learn the art, craft, and business of screenwriting. For information about the WGFestival, click here.

City of Hope

City of Hope has been restored by Sony Pictures Entertainment in conjunction with the Sundance Institute Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Welcome to John Sayles’ America. In this sprawling, kaleidoscopic view of an American city, City of Hope interweaves multiple narratives to examine political corruption, institutional failure, urban development, police brutality, and the ever-widening racial and economic divide of its inhabitants. Roger Ebert compared the film to Slacker, pointing out the shared affinity for weaving characters and places together, an observant camera straying across different conversations within the same scene, making us the eavesdropper on the urban landscape. The city, then, becomes the connecting tissue; it’s a living, breathing thing; it pulsates and it consumes. It’s about people’s complaisance to the institutions they serve. Yet, this is also a film about the individual. While initially dismissed by some critics as hopeless, Sayles has since noted that “the movie is pessimistic, but it’s not cynical.” This is an angry film that asks hard questions without providing easy answers; a film about compassion, hope and the small possibility of reform that exists within a rigged system.

Dir John Sayles, 1991, DCP, 129 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

The Brother From Another Planet (w/ John Sayles in person!) + Piranha (Introduced by Roger Corman!)

2/19/2016 - 7:30PM

Hosted by Louis Black!

Q&A Moderated by Leonard Maltin! Cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson in person!

The Brother From Another Planet

35mm Restored Print Courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Written, directed, and edited by John Sayles (who actually wrote an early draft of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, an unlikely companion piece to the film) and starring Joe Morton (City of Hope, Lonestar) The Brother From Another Planet is mash-up of fish-out-of-water humor and salient commentary on the black experience in 1980s Harlem. The film follows “The Brother,” an alien who blends in with the residence of his adopted home—except for his feet and inability to speak. Through his perspective, we see the absurdity of earth’s social dynamics and how “white folks get stranger all the time.” With special jury recognition and a nomination for the grand jury prize at the 1985 USA Film Festival (aka Sundance), The Brother From Another Planet is a fresh and original science fiction movie with cameos by soon-to-be Sayles regular David Strathairn (Eight Men Out, Matewan) and the director himself, as the white aliens in pursuit—“the men in black.” An absolute staple of black cinema, Sayles’ Brother remains a relevant, deft blend of wit, slapstick, and racial politics in 1980s America.

Dir John Sayles, 1984, 35mm, 108 min.

Piranha Introduced by Roger Corman!

In the bloody, movie biz-altering, blockbuster wake of Jaws, an ocean of cheapo sea-creature features rushed in to chomp out their share of the ferocious fishploitation market. The very best of these was Corman’s 1978 jam Piranha, directed by up-and-comer Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins, The ‘Burbs), and written by master scribe Sayles, who balanced an “indie darling” filmmaking career with Corman flicks like Alligator and Battle Beyond the Stars. Starring Keenan Wynn, Kevin McCarthy, Barbara Steele and Dante stalwart Dick Miller, the plot finds weaponized piranha bred by the military set loose on a resort water park, resulting in some major teeth-chomping bloodshed. Dante’s love of 50′s sci-fi/horror and playful sense of mayhem make the film a rare delight — a knockoff that’s just as fun as the original, with fledgling SFX guru Rob Bottin’s puppet fish as a wonder to behold.

Dir Joe Dante, 1978, 35mm, 94 min.

Watch the trailer for The Brother From Another Planet!

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer for Piranha!

An Evening w/ John Sayles + Return of the Secaucus Seven (David Strathairn in person!)

2/18/2016 - 7:30PM

35mm Restored Print Courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

To kick off our epic weekend with legendary filmmaker John Sayles, join us for a conversation with man himself! Then we’ll all begin the weekend’s marathon with Return of the Secaucus Seven!

Hollywood exploded into the Full-Throttle Blockbuster 1980s just as Sayles’s Return of the Secaucus Seven blazed another trail, a trail of “small” films about intimacy and friendship, a path filled with wry humor, sly jokes, old friends banging on the living room rug, and lots of talking. Sayles’s first film turns a gathering of former radicals, reunited ten years after their glory days, into a discourse of life lived, failures and successes, relationship issues and personal anxieties—and most of all, humor. The free-flowing wit and naturalistic carousing, the chatter of the everyday—that many directors later emulated—would become the identifier of true independent filmmaking. Return of the Secaucus Seven is fundamental, American-with-a-capital-A, Independent Cinema. Maybe the very beginning of it.

Dir John Sayles, 1979, 35mm, 104 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!

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