Hal Hartley at the CFI

Hal Hartley presents his films at the Canadian Film Institute Feb 1-3

The Canadian Film Institute (CFI) has a stacked line-up of screenings and director Q&As next week. Following The Boxing Girls of Kabul on Wednesday and The End of Time on Thursday, the CFI will celebrate acclaimed American independent filmmaker Hal Hartley in a six night retrospective. Hartley will be on hand to present and discuss his work on the first three nights of the series, which begins Friday, February 1st. Known for his quirky and satirical films, Hal Hartley is a forerunner of contemporary independent filmmaking and his films have launched the careers of numerous stars including Adrienne Shelley, Edie Falco, Martin Donovan, Michael Imperioli, and one of my favourite actresses, Parker Posey. “Hal Hartley is one of the most impressive and idiosyncratic contemporary American film artists,” says CFI Executive Director, Tom McSorley. “The CFI is proud to be bringing this critically acclaimed, internationally renowned American independent filmmaker to Ottawa.”

Fay Grim
Among the films screening in the series are my two personal favourite Hartley films, Henry Fool (1997) and Fay Grim (2007). A prizewinner for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, Henry Fool is an unconventional spy movie about a poet, Simon Grim (James Urbaniak), who is befriended by a hack novelist named Henry Fool (Thomas Jay Ryan) whose work-in-progress is a cryptic tale full of international secrets. The labyrinth of Henry’s poetry spills into the film’s follow-up, Fay Grim, which puts Simon’s wife, Fay (Parker Posey), on the hunt for Henry Fool. You’ll need to see the first film to appreciate the second, so plan your schedule accordingly!

The real treat of the series, however, might be the chance to see Hartley’s latest work, Meanwhile. (Review here.) A brisk, smart film, Meanwhile might be the most accessible of Hartley’s films, so viewers unfamiliar with the director’s body of work will appreciate the gateway drug that opens the CFI series. Additionally, chances are that this CFI screening is the only opportunity you’ll have to see Meanwhile on the big screen, since it went the route of home video releasing outside of Hartley’s native New York. The night should also be of interest for a lesson on the latest trends in DYI filmmaking and digital platforms.

In total, the CFI will devote six nights of screenings throughout February and early March to this special retrospective:

February 1st: Meanwhile (2012) 7:00pm and Trust (1991), 9:00pm *
February 2nd: Possible Films: Hal Hartley Short Film Programme, 3:00pm *
February 3rd: Amateur (1994), 7:00pm *
February 27th: Henry Fool (1997), 7pm
March 1st: The Girl From Monday (2005), 8:30pm
March 2nd: Fay Grim (2006), 7pm
 *Hal Hartley will be in attendance on dates marked with an asterisk (February 1, 2, 3).

All screenings will take place at the Auditorium of Library and Archives Canada at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa, except for the Short Film Programme, which will be presented at Club SAW, 67 Nicholas Street. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for CFI members, seniors, and students and can be purchased on-site with the box office opening half an hour before the start of the film.

Please visit the CFI’s website for more details.