Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Q&A with CASABLANCA Mosaic Artist Jonathan Mandell

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

Summer is nearly over and we're preparing for our fall programming. Although seeing the season come to an end is bittersweet, there is one fantastic part: our traditional screening of Casablanca. Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 29 we will conclude our Summer Classics series with the World War II romance starring Bogie and Bergman as former lovers who are reunited in the distant Moroccan outpost.

How perfect it is that we honor one of our favorite films (and one of my favorite end-of-summer traditions) by displaying artist Jonathan Mandell's original mosaic interpretation of the film in our lobby. Thanks to the generous gift of Margie and Bryan Weingarten, visitors over the last several months have enjoyed seeing Mandell's tribute to the iconic film and will continue to do so for years to come.

Casablanca (c) Jonathan Mandell, 2000.

Mandell answered some questions via email about interpreting Casablanca and his artistic process.

What made you choose this film to inspire your mosaic?

Casablanca is one of the most iconic films of all time. It also has a rich history of movie posters and graphic art.

How long does it take to make a piece like this?

Creating a mosaic like this is a two-step process. The first part is creating the composition. The second is the fabrication of the design. It took a couple of weeks of research and design refinement to produce my composition. The fabrication took around four weeks. Each piece is hand shaped to fit the neighbor piece. The grout lines are designed to act as drawing lines. They establish depth perspective and the volume of form. An example would be on Bogie's pin-striped suit the grout lines are both pin stripes and drawing lines.

How do you plan your mosaics? What’s your process for creating one?

I create my composition first. Then I fabricate the panel. It is designed to be as light weight as possible. The panel also has a built-in hanging apparatus. The panel is then white washed and the drawing is laid out. The next step is picking and choosing materials. The Casablanca mosaic was made using ceramic tile and various semi-precious stones and minerals including snow flake obsidian, rhodonite, and hickoryite jasper.

Sam (Dooley Wilson) plays for Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) in Casablanca. This image inspired the central panel of Jonathan Mandell's mosaic.

What’s your favorite scene (or line) in Casablanca? Why?

The scene in Rick's cabaret where Sam offers up the tune "As Time Goes By". It is such a touching gesture to his longtime friend.

What movie would you like to depict next?

The Godfather. I would welcome the opportunity to create that.

If you haven't taken a close look at the mosaic yet, please do--perhaps on your way in to see Casablanca?

Mandell is about to start an 8ft x 6ft mosaic for Bryn Mawr Hospital. You can find out more information about his work at www.jonathanmandell.com.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Diane Mina Weltman: Why I Love BEN-HUR

BMFI member Diane Mina Weltman discusses why she loves the 1959 epic Ben-Hur, showing Tuesday, August 28 at 7:00 pm at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. Check back for additional posts by BMFI staff and community members that explore the movies we love.

Why I love Ben-Hur
By Diane Mina Weltman, BMFI Member and Film Fan

The chariot race.

While it is not the only reason that William Wyler's Ben-Hur is a favorite, the chariot race ranks at the top of my list of reasons to see the film on a cinema screen. Nine four-horse chariots race around a Circus Maximus set, the definition of grandeur. In a film laced with trumpet and string orchestration, the actual race sequence has no music. This means the thundering beat of horses hooves, the snap of whips, the grinding of wheels by metal spikes, the roar of the 5,000 extras cheering in the stands fill the senses for nine glorious minutes as Charlton Heston (as Ben-Hur, a Jew) and Stephen Boyd (as Tribune Masalla, a Roman) race for glory and revenge.

Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur in the famed chariot race.
In what could be characterized as a showing of uber machismo, the chariot race grabs us by the throat, daring us to ride alongside the stampeding wonder. As I recently listened to Charlton Heston’s commentary about the race (originally taped in 1993), I expected to hear some swagger. After all, he was to become the NRA spokesperson who, in support of his Second Amendment rights, thrust a rifle into the air famously announcing it would have to be removed “from my cold dead hands.”

Heston (who died in 2008) was circumspect, lathering praise for the chariot training he received as well as lauding the work of his stunt double, Joe Canutt. Joe was the 24-year-old son of Yakima Canutt, the film’s stunt supervisor and trainer who went on to work with Heston in El Cid and Khartoum. Heston recalled the elder Canutt telling him to “Just stay in the chariot. I guarantee you’ll win the damn race.”

Heston also debunked three myths that sometimes surface regarding the making of Ben-Hur. The rumors that there was a red Ferrari parked inside the arena, that a stuntman was killed, and that Heston was wearing a wristwatch during the race are all false. His last comment about the race came wistfully; letting the work speak for itself, he said, “Best action scene ever filmed.” While our politics may have differed, I agree 100 percent with his succinct review.

Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince, is sold into slavery after being betrayed by his friend, a Roman.
Ben-Hur blends pageantry with raw beauty in epic fashion. Filmed in Italy and the US, it is a testament to a pre-computer graphics era. Grand scenes provide wonder. Intimate scenes offer emotion. The 3 hour 27 minute running time serves them up banquet style.

Unlike films such as The Ten Commandments or The Robe in which Christ’s life is central to the story, this film incorporates it peripherally, integrating pieces in a parallel storyline. The face of Christ is never revealed, nor is his voice heard.

The impact of a foreign power occupying another country is a theme in Ben-Hur that resonated in America following World War II. The Roman Empire’s sovereignty over Jerusalem mirrored the groundswell of hate and resentment that the world was still recovering from in the post-war ‘50s. However, it is the film’s personal stories within this larger context—a man and his mother and sister, a man and his childhood friend, a Roman consul and his adopted son—that pierce our emotions and make an ancient story relatable.

I remember watching black and white gladiator movies on UHF in the sixties with my two older brothers. The campy grandiosity was irresistible. It hooked me into the Roman-era style movie. Ben-Hur, with its eleven Academy Awards, elevated the genre to combine storytelling and staging to levels unseen at the time.

No film of its type comes close to the impact of Ben-Hur.

Diane Mina Weltman is a BMFI member who enjoys attending performing and visual arts events and writing about them. Check out her blog, A Subject for Consideration.

Dan Santelli: Why I Love THEY LIVE

BMFI concludes its summer season of The Late Show tonight at 11:30 pm with a screening of John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic, They Live. BMFI's Programming Intern, Dan Santelli, tells us why he loves this politically charged thriller. Dan will also introduce the film screening. Check back for additional posts by the BMFI staff and community members that explore the movies we love.

Why I Love They Live
By Dan Santelli, Programming Intern, BMFI

As a movie lover, I’ve always held a personal—and admittedly contrarian—stance that societal problems and issues (be they contemporary or historical) are worked out better and are more attention grabbing when placed in the context of the genre film than that of the “prestige” film (a la Forrest Gump). With genre films, you know what to expect when you go to see one, which gives you a greater opportunity to uncover hidden subtexts and messages. Never has there been a better example of the transcending power of the genre film than John Carpenter’s 1988 thriller They Live, which will screen at BMFI tonight at 11:30 pm as the final entry in the summer season's Late Show series.

Director John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) with cast members on the set of They Live.

The premise of They Live is remarkably simple: Nada (WWE’s Rowdy Roddy Piper), a wandering construction worker, rolls into Los Angeles seeking a job. He discovers a box filled with sunglasses, which look as if they were stolen from the set of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood music video. When he tries on a pair, he realizes that the world he thought knew is merely a mirage created by power hungry, capitalist-minded extraterrestrials bent on brainwashing society with upper-class and conservative values.

From the get go, They Live is downright silly and preposterous, as all the Body Snatchers films and rip-offs inevitably are. And yet, this facet doesn’t undermine the movie as much as it only affirms Carpenter’s skill and assurance as a director. His deft, political touch involves us in the increasingly absurd tale of a burly, asocial hero as he blasts his way through Los Angeles conquering aliens and trading insults with them. It’d be too easy to criticize Piper’s characterization of Nada as less a full-fledged character than an expansion on his “Hot Rod” wrestling persona. Doing so misses the point. Much like Jack Torrance (Nicholson) in Kubrick’s The Shining, Nada is an archetype—a cipher standing in for the middle- and working-class Americans lost amidst the corruption and greed of the late ‘80s yuppie culture. Pitted in a world where friend could be foe and almost everyone’s against you, Nada carries the belligerent swagger of a conservative general (think Patton) with a liberal agenda.

John Nada (WWE Superstar "Rowdy" Roddy Piper) ready to kick some butt in They Live.

A USC film school grad who broke into the movies amidst the New Hollywood movement, Carpenter learned his craft by studying and lifting from masters such as John Ford, Sergio Leone, and Howard Hawks (his favorite director). With They Live, Carpenter indulges his love of the 1950s science fiction genre and their themes of Cold War paranoia (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing from Another World, Red Planet Mars). He uses the tropes while turning their underlying values on their head. What was once a genre telling the audience to “fear the outsider” and promote conservative values has been updated and injected with liberal minded ideology, as well as Carpenter’s contempt for the ‘80s approach to those right-wing politics.

They Live might not be Carpenter’s greatest film, but it remains an essential 1980s genre outing and the work of an oft-misunderstood auteur. Furthermore, it possesses a power that most non-genre films lack because it plays to the mass movie-going public by employing genre conventions while, simultaneously, expressing social/political fears and anxieties in the subtext. With They Live, John Carpenter transcends the genre tropes, while still adhering to them, and offers an elaborate, scrutinizing examination of—at least from Carpenter’s viewpoint—the “evils” of Reaganomics and the ills it inflicted upon society. You might not agree with Carpenter’s political agenda, but there’s no denying his ambitions.

"They" demand that you attend a screening of Mr. Carpenter's They Live.

In this respect, he ranks alongside fellow filmmaker and pop-satirist Joe Dante, whose vastly underappreciated Small Soldiers—a scathing anti-war satire disguised as a kids’ summer blockbuster—plays like a hybrid of Dante’s own Gremlins and They Live by creating an intelligent argument against the practice of packaging war for mass youth consumption. The Dante/Carpenter comparison could be explored further, on a surface level at least, as both directors are apparent cinephiles and Baby Boomers who grew up in the 50s and 60s, compulsively consuming science fiction and horror movies. This love is expressed through each director’s filmography, which divides critics, audiences, and cineastes, but has garnered both directors massive international cult followings (particularly in France). Their subversive wit, macabre interests, and scattershot bankability has ultimately forced them to work outside the studio system in order to express their love and craft.

Directors John Carpenter (above) and Joe Dante (below): Masters of the (Subversive) Macabre.

Of course, one can’t discuss They Live without noting what is, perhaps, the movie’s most memorable scene: an infamously prolonged slugfest between Piper and actor Keith David. Beginning around the 56-minute mark and lasting nearly five minutes, it’s a pile-driving, bruise-beating, no-holds-barred brawl that almost seems to have been extracted from a Chuck Norris movie. At least Carpenter has the sense of humor and intelligence to have fun with the scene—he noted in a making-of documentary that since he cast a notable wrestler as the lead, he might as well exploit his talents in the movie. As noted by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in his review of They Live, the Howard Hawks influence on Carpenter’s work might explain why he would extend this scene to the degree that he did: “buddies have to slug it out in order to become friends.” Boy, do they ever.

They Live is crude, lewd, trashy, goofy, and sensationally silly. At the same time, it’s an endlessly entertaining and thoughtful rumination on the ‘80s culture, with messages and themes which continue to be relevant today, post-9/11. Piper more than holds his own amidst the chaos and, while he’s by no means the world’s greatest actor, develops a persona that’s charismatic and charming. He’s a classic John Wayne-inspired Carpenter hero. Alongside the (lovingly) cheesy humor and rough-and-ready special effects is director Carpenter working to provoke thought in his audiences with stimulating political allegories and social criticism. It’s a singular, ridiculous hoot and Carpenter wouldn’t have it any other way. Even if you don’t agree with the subtext, it’s impossible not to appreciate the sublime ridiculousness of a movie that contains the line “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

They Live, We Sleep: Sunglass vision reveals the aliens in hiding.

Below is the They Live "making-of" documentary referenced above. Enjoy!

Dan Santelli, BMFI's Programming Intern, is a 2012 graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor's degree in Film and Media Arts. A lifelong cineaste, his favorite films (in no particular order) include Leon: The Professional, The Night of the Hunter, Touch of Evil, Blue Velvet, Brazil, Apocalypse Now, Dressed To Kill (1980), Halloween, and Les Yeux Sans Visage.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Hothouse Coffee Now Open at BMFI

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

 Coffee lovers, you’ve found a new home. After extensive renovations, the café at Bryn Mawr Film Institute has reopened as Hothouse Coffee.

Beautifully redone, the new café feels modern and welcoming, with gleaming metal, warm wood, and teal accents. Under the design team at Form A+D Architecture, the space has been updated with a polished zinc counter, a new walnut floor, and striated bamboo tables and counter facing. Fresh flowers and some understated floral accents complement the name, which was inspired by BMFI’s light-filled atrium. And, for those who are looking to do some computer work, they’ve added additional outlets as well!

A full range of drinks are already available. Soon they’ll soon feature pour-over coffee, the latest trend: you choose your espresso blend and they’ll grind the beans to order, providing the freshest cup o’ joe you can get.

Hothouse Coffee owner Natalia Carignan poses in her newly redone cafe. 
They’re also expanding the menu.

“We’re introducing new items weekly,” says Natalia Carignan, the owner of Hothouse Coffee. “We want to do it right, so we’re going slowly. We have many new purveyors and are now offering delicious turkey from Koch’s Turkey Farm—the best I’ve ever tasted—and breads from Hudson Valley, NY. We’re also featuring cheeses and hams from Green Valley Farms and cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop in New York City. We’ll slowly introduce new desserts and will offer a cheese tray, new salads, and more.”

Her favorite new offering? She recommends their ham panini featuring savory meat from Lancaster County and a caramelized onion and balsamic marmalade.

“My exchanges with my customers are the most exciting part for me,” says Natalia, a graduate of the Art Institute’s culinary program. “I want Bryn Mawr to be vibrant and for Hothouse to be an active part of the community, a place where customers can come relax and enjoy good things.” (We feel the same way, Natalia.)

As always, BMFI patrons are invited to bring food and drink from Hothouse Coffee into the movies, and you get a 10% discount at the café when you show your ticket stub.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

She’s Got “The Right Stuff”: Q&A with Author Annette Insdorf

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

Bryn Mawr Film Institute is thrilled to welcome acclaimed author, film scholar, professor, and festival panelist, Annette Insdorf on Tuesday, August 21. Dr. Insdorf will sign copies of her new book, Contemporary Film Directors: Philip Kaufman, and introduce a screening of Kaufman’s Oscar-winning 1983 hit, The Right Stuff.

Based at Columbia University, where she is Director of Undergraduate Film Studies and teaches in the Graduate Film Program, Dr. Insdorf has written definitive works on filmmakers Francois Truffaut and Krzysztof Kieslowski as well as Indelible Shadows: Film and Holocaust. Parisian by birth, she has been honored by the French Ministry of Culture, the National Arts Club, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, and is a popular panel moderator and translator at film festivals around the world. You may have seen her in one of her many media appearances on programs such as 20/20, The Charlie Rose Show, and Good Morning America, as well as on CNN, The Sundance Channel, in Woody Allen: A Documentary on PBS’s American Masters series, and more.

Dr. Insdorf answered questions via email about her book, The Right Stuff, and her relationship with Kaufman.
Your new book, Contemporary Directors: Philip Kaufman, was published this year, the first on the director. What drew you to study Philip Kaufman? Why now?

I started writing my book around 2002, after having interviewed the wonderfully articulate Kaufman onstage a few times. Given that there was no book about his rich cinema—and that he was equally under-appreciated in academia and popular film criticism—I figured I had to write it.

It struck me that Kaufman was making sophisticated films for literate viewers—the kind of stylistically and philosophically juicy movies that I associate with the French New Wave. Henry and June was the first film to receive the NC-17 rating, which created controversy (both for the film and for the rating system). Kaufman courageously tackled the famously "macho" Henry Miller, but through the female perspective of Anais Nin.

Philip Kaufman and Annette Insdorf at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. 

Youʼre an expert on Kaufman’s films. What is something interesting about the making of his 1983 classic The Right Stuff?

There was a script written by the great screenwriter William Goldman. But his adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book diminished the role of Chuck Yeager. Kaufman felt that Yeager was the embodiment of The Right Stuff, and wrote his own screenplay, whose first part is devoted to the laconic hero who broke the sound barrier. And he insisted on Sam Shepard for the role.

Youʼve moderated panels at film festivals around the world. Do you have a favorite festival?

Yes, the Telluride Film Festival, which takes place Labor Day weekend in the mountains of Colorado. I have a vivid memory of watching The Wanderers there in 1995, with Philip and Rose Kaufman beside me, as the audience cheered. It was outdoors, at night, against the Colorado sky...

What is one of your most memorable exchanges with a filmmaker?

It was with Kaufman! I was galvanized after seeing Henry and June in 1990: I contacted a mutual friend for Kaufman's address in order to send him a fan letter. He replied, quickly and generously, and we continued to correspond. I was gratified that he appreciated my book on Francois Truffaut.

Devin Wachs is the Public Relations Manager for Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She joined BMFI in 2005, following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College. If you send BMFI a message on Facebook or Twitter or are interested in onscreen sponsorships, she's the one who'll be in touch!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gus Cileone: Why I Love THE RIGHT STUFF

BMFI will screen The Right Stuff on Tuesday, August 21 as part of the "Director in Focus: Philip Kaufman" film series. BMFI patron and film aficionado Gus Cileone tells us why he loves this Kaufman classic. Check back for additional posts by BMFI staff and community members that explore the movies we love.

Why I Love The Right Stuff
By Gus Cileone, BMFI Patron, Student, and Volunteer

[Spoiler alert.]

There were many fine films in 1983—including The Big Chill and Terms of Endearment—but for my money, The Right Stuff, directed by Philip Kaufman, based on the book by Tom Wolfe, was the best movie that year. One thing this film is so successful at doing is showing heroes as real people with definable character traits. It accomplishes this feat without diminishing what these men achieved, or undermining the courage needed to face the unknown obstacles confronting them.

The tone is set by the opening voiceover describing test pilots in epic hero terms as they chase the "demon" out there in the sky. The men’s quest to break the sound barrier and "punch a hole in the sky" emphasizes the theme that people must break through the barriers that try to contain them.

The pilots are all distinct personalities, revealed with humor and insight. John Glenn comes off like a squeaky clean Marine. Ed Harris even looks like Mr. Clean in the TV commercials. He can't curse when he is angry, and leaves the profanity to the other pilots to fill in the objectionable words when he speaks. He is admirable as he backs up his wife, who has a speech impediment, so that she doesn't have to let in the press and the grandstanding Lyndon Johnson when they are camping out on her front lawn. Alan Shepard, played by Scott Glenn, is a mischievous prankster, who does inappropriate Hispanic impersonations of then-comic Bill Dana's politically incorrect persona. Gordon Cooper is a bragging charmer, played by Dennis Quaid, who keeps asking "Who is the best pilot you ever saw? You're looking at him." He is so cool that he has to be awakened after falling asleep in the space capsule just before his launch. His pal, Fred Ward's Gus Grissom, calls him a "hot dog," and there is a chilling scene as he holds up a burnt-to-a-crisp hot dog at a barbecue, which strikes Cooper’s wife as a bad omen. Grissom is a man of few words, and is stoical most of the time. But he knows how to get the other astronauts to unite and take control of their missions. He emphasizes how they must show their superiors that the test pilots are not just the equivalents of chimpanzees. He makes those running the program realize how much they need the astronauts, because they are the ones who generate funding, when he says, "No bucks, no Buck Rogers."

The pilots of Mercury 7 (from left to right): Gus Grissom (Fred Ward), Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), Deke Slayton (Scott Paulin), John Glenn (Ed Harris), Scott Carpenter (Charles Frank), Alan Shepard (Scott Glenn), and Wally Schirra (Lance Henriksen).
Sam Shepard's Chuck Yeager, the test pilot who first broke the sound barrier and who refused to become an astronaut, is the most iconic character portrayed in the film. After breaking the barrier, he howls at the moon, presaging the time when man would land on earth's satellite. He is the essence of cool, quiet manliness. But when he gets knocked off his horse after hitting a tree branch while galloping after his wife (Barbara Hershey), he tells her, "I'm a fearless man, but I'm scared to death of you." One of the last scenes in the film has Yeager ejecting from a doomed test plane. You can't help but be moved when Yeager, his face greasy and looking burned, strides away from the wreckage. One of the soldiers asks, "Is that a man?" Another says, "Yeah, you're damn right it is!" Machismo in the most dignified sense of the term. When the bar where the first test pilots congregated burns down, it symbolizes the passing of an era, as Yeager figuratively passes the baton to the next generation of "star voyagers."

Chuck Yeager (Sam Shepard) returns after a successful test flight.
These men are supported by their long suffering wives, who shudder every time the "man in black" appears to give them the bad news whenever one of their pilot husbands crashes. Mrs. Cooper (Pamela Reed) leaves at first but later returns to back up her husband. Mrs. Grissom (Veronica Cartwright) rails against the military because they owe her for her sacrifices. As one of the wives says, the military spent a lot of money to train their men, but nothing to prepare the wives to be fearless. But these women obviously were attracted to these men; as Mrs. Yeager says, she must have been drawn to a man who "pushed the outside of the envelope."

Louise Shepard (Kathy Baker), accompanied by her fellow pilot wives, listens as her husband's fate is revealed over the phone.
Besides showing the challenges that these men face, the film is notable for its humor. Jeff Goldblum and Harry Shearer are very funny as they show films of potential astronauts to the President and his top officials. They say surfers would be good for splashdowns and car racers even have their own helmets. Eisenhower comes off pretty well as he rejects the outrageous nominees and insists on test pilots, whom his advisers consider to be uncontrollable. Since the Russians were the first to send up an orbiting satellite, our technical ability is questioned by these advisers. But they are assured by rocket scientist Wernher von Braun that "our German scientists are better than their German scientists."

The best comic scenes center on the tests that the men must pass, which look like torture treatments. You have to laugh when Scott Glenn can't remove his arm off of the table after a needle has overstimulated his muscles. The scene where he has a balloon inflated in his rectum and he must run to the bathroom to relieve himself is also hysterical. Another hilarious sequence is when the men need to provide sperm samples. Cooper knows Glenn is in the next bathroom stall because he is humming the Marine Corps theme song. Cooper tries to drown it out with the Air Force counterpart, and the sounds get louder as they race toward their respective climaxes. Of course, the scene that shows Mission Control having no contingency for going to the bathroom in space for the first flight overflows with humor. We roar as Shepard, who had drunk numerous cups of coffee, grimaces and must request permission to relieve his bladder into his spacesuit.

The pilots undergo one of their many pre-departure tests.
This film expertly shows the bravery and failings of these space pioneers, and it, along with Apollo 13, reminds us of a can-do America where "failure is not an option."

Gus Cileone is a retired government employee who worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has received several writing awards and has published two novels, A Lesson in Murder and Feast or Famine. You can visit his web site at www.augustuscileone.com.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Films Worthy of Olympic Gold

By Angela Monaco, BMFI Intern

Keep the Olympic spirit of the London 2012 Games alive with these five films that capture the Olympic passion, dedication, and determination that we all know and love.
1. Chariots of Fire (1981)
Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire tells the story of two British track athletes at the 1924 Summer Olympics: a Scottish Christian running to honor God and an English Jew running to achieve social acceptance. This highly-acclaimed British film celebrates the perseverance and strength that these Olympians possessed both on and off the track.

2. Olympia (1938)
German film director Leni Riefenstahl shot Olympia, a documentary of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics. Although used as a Nazi propaganda film, Olympia offers a stunning cinematic display of athleticism. This documentary—the first ever documentary feature film of the Olympic Games—includes the legendary sprint races of American track star Jesse Owens.

3. Miracle (2004)
Miracle highlights one of America’s finest moments in Olympic history: the “Miracle on Ice” of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team. Kurt Russell stars as head coach Herb Brooks, who leads his team of collegiate athletes to victory over the heavily favored Soviet team. The Cold War rivalry of these two nations comes to the ice in this inspirational tale of Olympic success.

4. One Day in September (1999)
The 1972 Olympic Games in Munich were supposed to be “The Happy Games”; instead they became remembered for the Palestinian terrorist group that took eleven Israeli athletes from the Olympic Village, killing two and holding the rest hostage. One Day in September features footage from the actual events as well as interviews with the surviving terrorist and police officials. This Oscar winner for Best Documentary presents a factual yet captivating story of an Olympic comeback that went horribly wrong.

5. Million Dollar Legs (1932)
Million Dollar Legs, starring W.C. Fields and Jack Oakie, is the tale of one country’s hilarious and bizarre Olympic journey. Klopstokia, whose population is made up entirely of athletes, decides to enter the Los Angeles Games as a solution to their impending bankruptcy. Million Dollar Legs offers a lighter, comedic approach to the Olympic Games in the face of the many intensely emotional Olympic films.

Angela Monaco is a Spanish and Communications student entering her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh, currently interning at the Bryn Mawr Film Insitute.