New film series hits Hancock

HANCOCK – When Pedro Trevino screened “Salo” for his friends, they came in armed only with a Wikipedia skim of its bad reputation.

But after explaining the film and its history to them, he said, they were better able to appreciate it. He’s hoping to replicate the experience on a wider sale with the Unsilvered Screen Film Series, which he is curating and hosting.

“Their heads aren’t going to explode,” he said. “They may be shocked, they may be bored. But if I do anything right in introducing the films, they’ll be curious, and they’ll leave with a grander sense of the filmmaker, their duties, and the dangers that they face.”

The Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock will be hosting the bi-weekly film series with Trevino, a filmmaker and photographer, starting at 7 p.m. April 18.

Trevino got the idea of the series after attending screenings at Club Indigo. While he liked the screenings, he said he wanted to provide more context for the films, and also shine a light on less covered areas of film.

“Nothing matters more to me than cinema,” he said. “I felt there were works that should be shown in the place of an MGM musical. Something to show people the potential of film as an art.”

Admittedly, he also wanted to provoke. Trevino said the movies, highly provocative in content and narrative, are meant for mature audiences. The next movie, Jean-Luc Godard’s “Le Gai Savoir,” consists of two people on a soundstage.

“I wanted people to be able to see that film is a medium for political expression as well as entertainment,” he said.

The choice of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom” was Trevino’s answer to the question “What would be the absolute worst thing to show in a public place?”

The film was banned for up to 30 years in some countries. The censure heightened its allure but led it to be regarded solely as what the British called a “video nasty.” By adding historical background and not fast-forwarding to the juicy bits, Trevino hopes to show people its artistic value.

“People would skip for the bad parts and they would forget this film was made in the wake of fascism in Italy,” he said. “It’s a highly political film that got the filmmaker killed. I thought in that regard, it’s actually a great film. It’s one of my favorites, not only for its boldness, how daring it is, but the matter of technique and where it comes in the history of film. It’s brilliant, and it was courageous of this man to make it.”

May 16’s pick is Nagisa Oshima’s “Death by Hanging,” about a Korean man accused of murdering a Japanese schoolgirl. Trevino said the film highlights anti-Korean sentiment in Japan.

“He’s executed for his crimes, but because he doesn’t acknowledge the fact that he’s done anything wrong, he doesn’t die, so it turns into a black comedy of them trying to convince him of what he did and his identity,” he said. “They try to execute him and it turns into a farce. I wanted extreme examples like that.”

Kiarostami’s “Shirin” is about women watching a film in Tehran; the film remains unseen as the camera cuts between the women’s faces. However, during filming, the women were neither watching the film nor in a theater.

“There’s just these levels of intervention by the director that questions the potential of the medium,” he said.

Godard’s film is one of Trevino’s favorites, but also politically important. Godard started the film before the protests in Paris of May 1968. He eventually finished it, then primarily stuck to making political videos for the next decades.

Screenings will be preceded by a brief talk, contextualizing each film’s history, themes, and aesthetics. For “Salo,” Trevino will talk about things such as Italian fascism, its role in film production in the post-war era, and how Pasolini’s apprenticeship as a filmmaker in the fascist era informed the film.

“After the film, if people want to have a discussion, I’m definitely up for that,” he aid. “The problem is I’m more of a monologue person.”

Films will be shown on April 18 and May 2, 16 and 30 at 7 p.m. The April 4 screening of Shji Terayama’s “Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets” was postponed because of weather; the film will be added on after the original end of the series.

For a listing of the film lineup, visit .com/programs.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Call 482-2333 for more information.