BRILLIANT CORNERS: the ‘ecstatic truth of cinema’

In 2016, the Art Theater Co-op is reopening BRILLIANT CORNERS,* its series dedicated to the ‘ecstatic truth of cinema,’ in Werner Herzog’s words. This series brings adventurous programming from around the world to our screen in central Illinois. Countering the movie industry’s insistence on a cinema that is expensive but cheap, trivial but not entertaining, pessimistic but not thoughtful; a cinema that contributes to the artistic undernourishment of the people, the BRILLIANT CORNERS series steps in. Political, spiritual, poetic, rigorous, funny and raw – this series offers alternatives to the dull parade of superheroes and Threats To Our Way Of Life that currently passes for cinema.

Upcoming titles

Cameraperson (BC006, 2016)
Jan 31, 2017 at 7:00pm


A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is both a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. (2016, Kirsten Johnson, NR, 105 min)

Past titles

The Pearl Button (Bc005, 2016)

Pearl Button L

Post-show Q&A with Claudia Lagos Lira (UIUC College of Media, Universidad de Chile) & Austin McCann

From Patricio Guzman, the Chilean filmmaker behind two of the finest films ever made, The Battle of Chile and Nostalgia for The Light, comes the acclaimed film The Pearl Button, called “lyrical, impressionist, and profound,” and “a vivid, essential portal understanding not only the heritage of a nation, but also the art of nonfiction cinema” | The ocean contains the history of all humanity. The sea holds the voices of the Earth and those that come from outer space. Water receives impetus from the stars and transmits it to living creatures. Water, the longest border in Chile, also holds the secret of a mysterious button that was discovered in its seabed. Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline, the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are the voices of the Patagonian indigenous people, of the first English sailors and also those of its political prisoners. Some say that water has memory. This film shows that it also has a voice. (2015, Patricio Guzman, 82 min, DCP)

Orson Welle’s Othello (BC004, 2014)


In 1948, Orson Welles set out to adapt Shakespeare’s Othello – the tragic tale of jealousy and betrayal in the royal courts of Venice. The film’s shoot was fraught with pitfalls, including bankruptcy and unforeseen cast changes, which lead Welles to suspend filming several times. The bullheaded director persisted, however, and the result of his efforts is an astounding and breathtakingly beautiful adaptation. Assisted by renowned production designer Alexandre Trauner, Welles glorifies each shot of his Othello with clever contrasts between shadow and light, earning a well-deserved Palme d’Or in Cannes in 1952. (1952, Orson Welles, 95 min, DCP restoration)

Ornette: Made in America (BC003, 2014)

Ornette small

Shirley Clarke’s acclaimed film focuses on the struggles and triumphs of avant-garde jazz legend Ornette Coleman – surveying his life as well as on the inspired intelligence that spawned his creativity and ensured his success. Clarke’s footage includes Ornette in conversation with family and friends; excerpts of interviews, riffs and travels, along with footage of his performances—in his hometown of Fort Worth, TX, in New York, in Morocco and beyond—presents the most comprehensive record of his career available. Ornette explores the rhythms, images and myths of America seen through they eyes of an artist’s ever-expanding imagination and experience. (1984, Shirley Clarke, 85 min, DCP restoration)

The Missing Picture (BC002, 2014 – post-show Q&A)

The Missing Picture, Rithy Panh's Cambodia childhood

Thrillingly unorthodox and emotionally searing without being didactic, The Missing Picture is a uniquely poignant documentary — and so much more. Director Rithy Panh writes, “For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia…On its own, of course, an image cannot prove mass murder, but it gives us cause for thought, prompts us to meditate, to record History. I searched for it vainly in the archives, in old papers, in the country villages of Cambodia. Today I know: this image must be missing. I was not really looking for it; would it not be obscene and insignificant? So I created it. What I give you today is neither the picture nor the search for a unique image, but the picture of a quest: the quest that cinema allows.” (2013, Rithy Panh, 95 min, DCP, English subtitles)

Manakamana (BC001, 2014 – post-show Q&A)


Breathtaking, poignant and mesmerizing, Manakamana is a film shot entirely inside the narrow bubble of a cable car, high above a jungle in Nepal, as it transports villagers and tourists to an ancient mountaintop temple. (2013, Pacho Velez & Stephanie Spray, 120 min, DCP, English subtitles)

*BRILLIANT CORNERS is named after the Thelonious Monk tune of the same name; Monk having done to jazz what we wish to be done to cinema.


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