QUEER/ART/FILM: John Cassavetes' "Opening Night" (presented by Juliana Snapper)

One of the great films about the creative process, John Cassavetes’ Opening Night explores the precarious, outermost limits of live performance — and this month’s featured Q/A/F guest is no stranger to such far-flung zones. Juliana Snapper’s radical operas, concerts and large theatrical works, staged in unlikely spaces and at great personal risk, jolt her to the edge of her physical being as she employs an array of experimental techniques. With intimate pieces incubated at PS1/MoMA, the Walker Art Center and Machine Project, and with upcoming sound-video commissions like her new work for the San Diego Science Museum’s IMAX Theater, Juliana’s become one of avant-garde culture’s pre-eminent vocalists.

For August, Juliana’s picked Cassavetes’ 1977 classic starring Gena Rowlands as an aging actress who, after battling her script, ultimately loses herself while finding her character. Cassavetes himself, Ben Gazzara, and old Hollywood stalwarts John Blondell and Paul Stewart all co-star as Rowlands’ collaborators trying to both inspire her, and desperately reign her in. From the very first scene, Cassavetes peppers the narrative with electric turn-on-a-dime ambiguity; with whole swathes of the action taking place “onstage” in front of a real audience watching the performances of the film’s cast in-character, the permeable membrane between “stage” and “reality” is so tangible it hurts.
Dir. John Cassavetes, 1977, 35mm, 144 min.

Watch the trailer for “Opening Night”!