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April 2020–June 2021

At its heart, Moving Images is about bringing communities together in the museum. Beginning in spring 2020, when the impact of COVID-19 prevented safe gathering in theater spaces, we collaborated with filmmakers, scholars, and other friends in the local film community to share a monthly selection of recommendations for our audiences to enjoy at home.

We are grateful for the collegial support and creative energy of more than 20 members across the local film community, who together shared over 50 recommended watch-at-home selections. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the moving image at home, whether you’re streaming via a subscription service, taking advantage of free library resources, or supporting your favorite local theater with a view-at-home ticket.

Past At Home recommendation lists. Please note: while the films remain great picks, information about available watch-at-home sources may have changed.

As June heats up and our skies fill with cicadas, we’re leaning into the cool thrill of film noir. A cinematic term applied first to Hollywood crime dramas in the 1940s and 50s, film noir, and its neo-noir and tech-noir successors, include films marked by dramatic lighting, sinister underworlds and hard-edged characters. This month’s contributors offer selections that span the noir style of storytelling.


Bound, directed by Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, 1996. Included for free on Amazon Prime; rent or buy on other major VOD services

Film Noir meets the New Queer Cinema in this sexy heist film by the Wachowski sisters (The Matrix, 1999; Cloud Atlas, 2012). Just as Todd Haynes’s academy award winning Far from Heaven (2002) reinvented the classical Hollywood melodrama for twenty-first century audiences, the Wachowskis’ first feature film, Bound, gives film noir a stylish reboot and lesbian protagonists. The influence of Billy Wilder, Joel and Ethan Coen, and Quentin Tarantino are apparent here, but Bound’s queer protagonists, feminist twist, and fresh femmes fatales are entirely its own.

— Valerie Weinstein, Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Niehoff Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of Cincinnati


Blade Runner: The Final Cut, directed by Ridley Scott, 1982. Rent or buy on major VOD services

If noir is dark streets, neon lights, and rain-soaked sidewalks, no modern film does it better than Blade Runner. In it, we follow Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) in his quest to “retire” four androids who have unlawfully returned to Earth. It is the future in Los Angeles, and the scene is as eerily familiar as it is foreign. The skyline is peppered with glowing lights-orange, white, and blue; flames flare up from impossibly tall skyscrapers; a towering pyramid rises from the haze and humidity. From the view of a flying car, the city is entrancing. At street level, the city (including recognizable landmarks Union Station, the Bradbury Building, and even Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House) is shrouded in darkness, draped in leaky pipes, and tangled in wires. In Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s future-world is believable and haunting. It builds upon the past, layers architectural styles and eras, and crumbles like the empires of old. How did we get here? Will Deckard emerge unscathed? Will we?

— Lauren Walker, Exhibition Designer, Cincinnati Art Museum


Panic in the Streets, directed by Elia Kazan, 1950. Rent on major VOD services

As we hopefully approach the light at the end of the tunnel related to our coronavirus pandemic, a quick look back at how the film noir universe directed a jaundiced eye toward public heath disasters in the 1950s seems just what the doctor ordered. Elia Kazan’s noir thriller Panic in the Streets (1950) follows a ghoulish killer, frightfully played by Jack Palance, through the streets of New Orleans, unaware that he carries a deadly plague as he evades police. Stars also include Richard Widmark and Zero Mostel. On top of the public health fears sparked by the film, it’s easy to discern how the plague functions as a metaphor for communism. Things just seem to keep repeating themselves. Check out the trailer here.

 — H. Michael Sanders, Professor and Department Chair, Electronic Media Communications, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College



Past At Home recommendation lists. Please note, while the films remain great picks, information about available watch-at-home sources may have changed.

In 1979 Barbara Rose issued a bold statement: these 41 paintings will represent American painting of the 80s. Her daring curatorial statement took the form of the landmark exhibition now reconstituted at the Cincinnati Art Museum as American Painting: The Eighties Revisited. Drawing inspiration from Rose’s work, this month’s contributors reflect on films that encapsulate the spirit of the 80s.


Painters Painting, directed by Emile de Antonio, 1973. Rent on major VOD services

Filmed in New York City in the early 1970s, Painters Painting depicts the place and time during which Barbara Rose conceptualized and curated American Painting: The Eighties, A Critical Interpretation. Filmmaker Emile de Antonio interviews dozens of artists, and the footage of Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg and Helen Frankenthaler make the film worth watching.  Frankenthaler describes her thinking behind Mountains and Sea (1952), her first stained canvas, a technique for which she became well known. Edward Youkilis, one of the artists featured in American Painting: The Eighties, worked as Frankenthaler’s studio assistant for a time. The artists featured by de Antonio were either direct predecessors to or contemporaries of those featured by Rose: the latter were painters who were courageously committed to their material at a time when painting was neither championed nor encouraged.

— Kate Bonansinga, Director, School of Art, UC College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning and CAM guest curator for American Painting: The Eighties Revisited


Purple Rain, directed by Albert Magnoli, 1984. Rent or buy on major VOD services

Purple Rain is a 1984 fictional musical biopic that, thanks to Donald Thorin's remarkable cinematography, elevated Midwestern rock star Prince to film-iconic status. The Black queer musician portrays "the Kid," son of an abusive Minneapolis household which he might himself reproduce, were it not for the power of music and love. Pauline Kael's assessment of the film was right on the nose: "It's not difficult to see the attraction that the picture has for adolescents ... [This] picture knows no restraint. ... Prince is in charge, and he knows how he wants to appear."

— Evan Torner, Associate Professor of German and Film & Media Studies, University of Cincinnati


Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, directed by Sara Driver, 2019. Rent or buy on major VOD services or stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

The late twentieth century presented a unique turning point for detailing the origin story – if you will – for artists. Thanks to far more mobile video cameras, we were newly-armed with the ability to capture moving images of the cultural landscape and artists actively operating in that space like never before. Jean-Michel Basquiat, who started out as a graffiti artist merged not only a raw freeform aesthetic developing during the late-1970s and early-1980s, but he was also remixing urgent creative expression and blunt social criticism like his contemporaries in the emerging world of rap and hip-hop. I discovered Basquiat, for myself, a few years after his death in 1988, but his legacy serves as a one of many potent model my ongoing efforts as a critic and film programmer. Sara Driver’s documentary provides a moving portrait of an artist on the verge of becoming an incendiary light on the scene. 

— tt stern-enzi, Artistic Director, Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival


American Psycho, directed by Mary Harron, 2000. Rent or buy on major VOD services

Disturbing, depraved, 80’s. That’s how I’d begin to explain Mary Harron’s American Psycho (2000). I wasn’t alive for the 80’s. I can’t say whether its depiction of the aesthetic & experience of the times is cogent. But I can’t think about American Psycho without thinking of the 80’s. And I’d imagine some people would say the same things about American Painting: The Eighties Revisited.

— e.m.i., Digital Content Manager, Cincinnati Art Museum

This month’s At Home recommendations build on the theme of adaptations in connection with April 22–25 virtual film and discussion series, Art, Histories, & Adaptations.

The World According to Sesame Street, directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan, 2006. Rent or buy on major VOD services

The World According to Sesame Street offers a behind-the-scenes look at the complex and delicate work to adapt a beloved children’s series, Sesame Street, for global audiences. Spanning over 6 continents, numerous local co-productions of Sesame Street bring educational content to children where they are with indigenous songs, muppets, and curricula tailored for the local community. This documentary shares the development and creation of co-productions in Bangladesh, Kosovo, and South Africa as they face cultural, political, and environmental challenges. The World According to Sesame Street gives viewers a chance to meet familiar and new “people in our neighborhood” on a global level.

— Nancy Jennings, Director, Children's Education and Entertainment Research (CHEER) Lab, University of Cincinnati


Tchaikovsky: Iolanta, produced by Queen City Opera in collaboration with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Stream free here

Tchaikovsky’s final opera, Iolanta, focuses on a young princess who is born blind. As a somewhat naïve reflection of its time, the original work presents blindness as a calamity that can only be overcome by receiving the gift of sight from heaven.

This adaptation was presented in collaboration with the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, with a focus on the right of the visually impaired and vision restoration as a choice. In the original Russian, with English subtitles. If you enjoy, please subscribe to the Queen City Opera YouTube channel for more free opera videos.

— Isaac Selya, Queen City Opera Artistic Director


I Am Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck, 2016. Rent or buy on major VOD services or stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Raoul Peck’s 2016 film, I am Not Your Negro, combines newsreel and lecture recordings, notes, letters, images, cultural artifacts, and excerpts from James Baldwin’s unfinished 1979 memoir “Remember this House,” setting the film squarely in the past. Interspersed through the film are also scenes from Black Lives Matter protests from the 2010s, highlighting the uncanny parallels between what would seem to be distinct periods of time in American History. James Baldwin captured the essence of the African American experience and was almost prophetic in his observations about race relations in the US. In watching I Am Not Your Negro, one cannot help but recognize the ongoing challenges that the fight for racial progress and equality pose to American society. The film not only represents an adaption of Baldwin’s words and works, but also a particular mode of cultural dislocation applicable to our past as well as our present.

— Sunnie Rucker-Chang, University of Cincinnati Director of European Studies and Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice faculty affiliate

Celebrating histories shaped by filmmakers and changemakers who identify as female.

9to5: The Story of a Movement, directed by Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar, 2020. Stream free on PBS Independent Lens though March 3; local PBS station membership required after March 3

If you’ve forgotten what life was like before the modern women’s movement, let’s take a tour. This documentary by an Ohio team reminds us that working women had to organize and fight to be taken seriously. The film is about the real women who inspired the Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda fiction film Nine to Five (1980). It’s about the secretaries who had enough and rose up against their bosses in a culture that paid them little and told them they were nobody. Cincinnati secretaries from the 70s, 80s, and 90s are featured in the story. The editing of old TV ads and archival news by Jaime Meyers Schlenck is hilarious, and though it may make you nostalgic, it may also make you glad that we've moved on.


ThinkTV, CET and other community organizations are presenting a free, virtual, live discussion and Q&A with filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar as well as the trailblazing women featured in the film. The event is Tuesday, March 9, at 7pm. If interested, please register by March 8 at

— Melissa Godoy, filmmaker


Treacle, directed by Rosie Westhoff, screenplay by April Kelley, 2019. Amazon Prime or Cindependent and Chill

April Kelley's Treacle is a compelling, dark comedy about being Bisexual in a world that sometimes feels like 'B' in LGBTQ+ is an exploratory opportunity amongst friends, as opposed to a specific, sexual orientation with boundaries. When friends Belle and Jessie go away for the weekend, a drunken hook-up ultimately is illuminated into an incredible betrayal between the two.  


Treacle has screened at over 50 festivals worldwide, including Cincinnati's Cindependent Film Festival in 2019. Over 50% of the team who brought Treacle to life are female. This film is available as part of Cindependent and Chill's March indie film edition, and includes an exclusive outtake from the creator herself. You can read more about Cindependent's virtual, curated, indie film subscription by visiting here.  

— Allyson West, Executive Director/Founder, Cindependent Film Festival


The Art Carvers of Music Hall, directed by Melissa Godoy. Stream free here

Godoy’s 14-minute documentary sheds light on the little-known history of one of Cincinnati’s largest ever public art commissions: the massive carved organ screen for Music Hall’s Hook & Hastings organ. 108 women carved the decorative wooden panels by hand—though only few of the women would continue as professional artisans, their participation in the city’s art-carved furniture movement pressed against barriers to gender equality. Godoy deftly weaves the story of the panels, from creation to twenty-first century restoration, together with insights from art historians including Anita Ellis, founding curator of CAM’s Cincinnati Wing, and Amy Dehan, CAM Curator of Decorative Arts & Design.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

In a nod to Valentine’s Day, these recommendations compose our love note to the medium.


Right Now, Wrong Then, directed by Hong Sang-soo, 2015. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Few things in life are as reliable as a Hong Sang-soo film, beginning with the fact that the Korean auteur offers up a new one every year. Characters will drink Soju and talk, the camera will zoom in and out, and narrative timelines will be anything but linear. Right Now, Wrong Then might be the purest distillation of Hong’s charmingly uneventful cinema. A celebrated director arrives in town for a festival, meets a beautiful young artist, and the two spend the day eating, drinking, and talking. Then they start over and do it again. Two meet-cutes that end with a heartfelt love-letter to cinema—I can’t think of a better film to spend Valentine’s Day with.

— Todd Herzog, Director, Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at the University of Cincinnati


Boogie Nights, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997. Rent or buy on major VOD services

Not only is Boogie Nights centered on the filmmaking industry (albeit the adult film industry), but it’s also an homage to other great movies. It borrows Martin Scorsese’s flashy style—like long, unbroken tracking shots—and an ensemble cast that feels pulled straight from a Robert Altman film. Don’t let the film’s salacious subject fool you; this is a surprisingly touching film that centers on the theme of love. It’s not the love of Eros, but instead the love of a chosen family.  

— Russell Ihrig, Associate Director of Interpretive Programming


Burden of Dreams, directed by Les Blank, 1982. Rent or buy on major VOD services

Burden of Dreams is a documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo, arguably one of Werner Herzog's most ambitious and chaotic films about a man who builds an opera house in the jungle. The film shows the plight of filmmaking in the extreme. Plagued with everything from dysentery to the crew being perilously stuck in the middle of a war between Peru and Ecuador, Burden of Dreams captures the torturous and often dangerous experience of shooting a film in the jungle with an obsessive filmmaker at the helm. At one point with the help of locals, the crew hauls a 30-ton boat up a muddy embankment for a scene. That in itself is reason enough to watch.

— Jaime Meyers Schlenck, Film Editor and President of Women in Film Cincinnati


Singin’ in the Rain, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

A musical about what musicals can and should be, with a light-hearted take on the advent of sound in motion pictures, Singin’ in the Rain never fails to make me smile. It’s a spectacular culmination of timing, choreography, set design, performance—yet it feels as natural as skipping down the street. Okay, it may be infectious. But with a delightful mixture of whimsy and parody, and knockout performances by Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds, why not give in to its charm?

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

A Billion Colour Story, directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, 2016. Rent or buy on major VOD services

“In a world rapidly being torn asunder by violence, racism and suspicion, there is growing despondence and a feeling that much of humanity is at cross purposes, and most of it at war. There is a dire need for reassurance that the fundamental goodness of humanity is still intact. There need to be more love stories than revenge dramas, more stories of real life heroes than superhero sagas.”

There need to be more stories that reinforce our faith in each other. A Billion Colour Story is one such story. It represents new beginnings. Our opportunity to recognize our common humanity. So even though the film takes place in India it could also be our story here in the USA. I hope you enjoy our selection from the Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati.

— Ratee Apana, Executive Director, Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati


Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, directed by James LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, 2020. Netflix

This powerful documentary, produced for Netflix by the Obamas, shows firsthand interviews and live footage of the disability rights movement. It starts by highlighting Camp Jened in the 1970s, a summer camp for teens who have disabilities. The camp’s judgement-free community fostered a group of advocates with disabilities seeking to produce change in a discriminatory world. The documentary follows this group of passionate people over the decades leading up to the Americans with Disabilities Act, as they fight to be accepted and accommodated in a society not built for them.

— Sara Birkofer, Manager of Accessibility and Gallery Programs, Cincinnati Art Museum

Visit to learn about accessibility initiatives at the Cincinnati Art Museum.


The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch, directed by Michael Steiner, 2018. Netflix

Motti is an orthodox, Jewish man in college, who is pressured by his mother to find a Jewish girl to marry soon. However, Motti meets Laura – a shiksa – non-Jewish girl, who he falls in love with. After Motti’s mother meets Laura, his mother sends him to Tel Aviv to reevaluate his life. Although Motti was supposed to become more religious in Israel, he joins the secular joys of life – partying, drinking and involving himself with different women. Motti is conflicted throughout the film between his traditional, Jewish life, and wanting to create a life for himself. 

— Ashley Englander, Rabbinic Student Intern, Skirball Museum, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion


Moonstruck, directed by Norman Jewison, 1987. Rent or buy on major VOD services

More than thirty years after its release, Moonstruck is enjoying a renaissance among film critics, and with good reason! Hard to categorize and joyfully unforgettable, the film sees Loretta Castorini (Cher), whose first spouse died tragically, preparing for a sensible remarriage to Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello). Before they wed, Johnny insists that Loretta invite his brother Ronny to their wedding—Nicolas Cage plays the tempestuous, opera loving baker. The story’s subplots are as delicious as the central narrative, made exceptional by cast members including Olympia Dukakis and John Mahoney.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

Anila Quayyum Agha’s immersive installation All the Flowers Are for Me (Red) has returned to CAM’s Thomas R. Schiff Gallery. We’re celebrating Agha’s transformation of the gallery through light and intricate shadows with a list of films that underscore the ways architecture and physical spaces shape stories.

, directed by Bong Joon Ho, 2013. Based on the Transperceneige novels by Benjamin Legrand, Jacques Lob, and Jean-Marc Rochette. Rent or buy on major VOD services

The last of humanity rides a train hurtling around the frozen earth—luxe riding in front, squalor in back. Revolution works its way forward. The architecture of the train emerges as malevolent, but not because of some intrinsic mech-demon. The inequities of the society that built it are so habituated that the linear design simply institutionalizes them with an unthinking, monstrous directness. For architecture and society, both a stark caricature and uncomfortably familiar.

— Jim Cheng, emersion DESIGN, Design Principal


Cléo from 5 to 7, written and directed by Agnès Varda, 1962. Available on the Criterion Channel or on Kanopy via your public library membership

Agnès Varda’s 1962 innovative nouvelle vague classic invites us to consider how our perspective on the built environment of the city changes according to our positioning and subjectivity at a particular time. Viewers follow ninety minutes in the life of Cléo as she wanders through the streets of Paris and reflects on – symbolically and literally through the numerous mirrors that she gazes into – life, loss, and time. The film complements All the Flowers Are for Me with compelling visual motifs: vivid compositions of city streets and apartment interiors showcase Varda’s background as a photographer, and the culmination of mirrors create a kaleidoscope effect while Cléo is shopping.

— Michael Gott, Director of Programming at the Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at UC


Pina, directed by Wim Wenders, 2011. Rent or buy on major VOD services

A theater stage blanketed in soft dirt or flooded with inches of water. A street median flanked by a McDonald’s billboard and the visual hum of passing traffic. A hilltop, the inside of a rail car. As dancers of the Tanztheater Wuppertal move through them, these spaces feel uncannily immediate. Gorgeously photographed—and stunning regardless of whether you’re able to view it in its original 3D format—Wim Wenders’s tribute to dance pioneer Pina Bausch weaves together breathtaking dance sequences and tender personal accounts from the artists who collaborated with her.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, 2016. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Moonlight is a coming-of-age drama that tells the story of Chiron, in 3 distinct phases: his childhood, adolescence, and early adult life. Set in the Liberty City neighborhood of Miami, Florida, Moonlight explores the difficulties and challenges Chiron faces with sexuality, masculinity, and identity. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Moonlight is gripping look at a character's journey through hardships and adversity, while learning more about one's self. 

— Don Hancock, Assistant Professor Film/TV E-Media, University of Cincinnati


Being John Malkovich, written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze, 1999. Rent or buy on major VOD services

Have you ever wanted to be someone else? Kaufman and Jonze’s 1999 surrealist comedy explores what it’s like to escape who you are and be someone else for 15 minutes. Specifically, to be esteemed actor John Malkovich. Kaufman’s first produced screenplay is one that explores loneliness, self-loathing, and gender identity, all while being loaded with absurdities like the 7 ½ floor and getting spit out of Malkovich’s mind onto the New Jersey turnpike. In true Kaufman fashion, you don’t really “like” any of the characters, but you can’t help but at times to identify with them. 

— Sara Drabik, Associate Professor & Program Director of Electronic Media & Broadcasting, NKU; Board Member, Women in Film Cincinnati


Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, written by Hasan Minhaj, 2017. Netflix

Hasan Minhaj, a former Daily Show correspondent, premieres his first standup special on Netflix. Homecoming King is a hilarious monolog of Minhaj’s life in a Muslim Indian family living in Davis, California. He chronicles the follies of intergenerational and cultural mishaps in a light, authentic way, layering the struggles of every child to fit in at school, dominate their siblings and ultimately find a date to Homecoming. The performance is charming, witty and won a Peabody Award in 2018.

— Emily Hanako Momohara, Artist and Associate Professor of Studio Art, Art Academy of Cincinnati


The Grace Lee Project, directed by Grace Lee, 2005. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

What’s in a name, and can your given name shape who you are? To director Grace Lee, it seems not only that everyone she meets knows another Grace Lee, but that each person describes the Grace Lee they know in stereotypes of female Asian American identity. Lee invites us into a social experiment, meeting Grace Lees across the country as she ponders how “Grace Lee” became a stand-in for the “model minority.” Her wry narration and beautiful portraits of the women she meets create an unexpected and satisfying love song to the ways we each know who we are.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images


In 2019 CAM hosted its first Horror Film Fest, a triple feature looking at the vampire mythos through arthouse horror films from different decades and with distinct cultural perspectives. Here is our lineup again—grab your popcorn and enjoy your own Evening of Vampires.


Let the Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, 2008, 114 minutes. Swedish with English subtitles. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

With its screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who penned the best-selling novel by the same name, Let the Right One In is at once disturbing and beautiful. Centering on lonely twelve-year-old Oskar and his new friendship with pale, serious Eli, Alfredson’s adaptation juxtaposes harshly cold circumstances with a tender coming of age story. 


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014, 100 minutes. Persian with English subtitles. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

In her director’s statement, Amirpour explains, “It’s like Sergio Leone and David Lynch had an Iranian rock ‘n’ roll baby, and then Nosferatu came and babysat for them[…] I found a desolate, vacant oil-town in the desert of California which became the fictitious Iranian ghost-town Bad City, and suddenly there were no rules.” Amirpour created her own universe, with a cast of characters inspired by pop icons from James Dean to Sophia Loren, and of course, the enduring Vampire.


Nosferatu the Vampyre, directed by Werner Herzog, 1979, 107 minutes. German with English subtitles. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

"I feel the vampire genre is one of the richest and most fertile cinema has to offer. There is fantasy, hallucination, dreams and nightmares, visions, fear and, of course, mythology." – Werner Herzog

Herzog’s homage to F.W. Murnau’s iconic silent classic – itself inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula – is a richly drawn encounter with human mortality, superstition, and symbolism. The story unfolds in lush color, with frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski famously convincing in the title role.

Presented in celebration of the Cincinnati Art Museum opening of Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal..., the All Things Being Equal film and discussion series featured films that honor the themes of Thomas’s work, discussions with scholars, filmmakers, and artists, and a special presentation of short films created in collaboration with Cincinnati nonprofit film-focused organizations.

This series took place September 3–September 5, but information about the films and recordings for conversations remain accessible at

August is for indies! This month’s recommendations celebrate the creative vision of independent filmmakers.


Caroline, written and directed by Celine Held and Logan George, 2018. Available to view here

In the middle of a Texas summer, plans for a babysitter fall through and six-year-old Caroline is left in charge of her two younger siblings. This film by Celine Held and Logan George exemplifies short filmmaking by accomplishing large character arcs and high-risk situations in a small space and amount of time.

— Allyson West, Executive Director/Founder, Cindependent Film Festival


Desperately Seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman, 1985. Rent or buy on major VOD services

1985 American comedy-drama Desperately Seeking Susan centers on the unlikely entanglement of bored housewife, Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) and punk drifter, Susan (Madonna). Set in New York, the plot is spurred by messages in the personal column of a newspaper. The film is both a comedy and an adventure story oriented toward women who are looking for new direction in their lives, not unlike the thrust of Thelma and Louise, though more comedic and gritty.

— Rachel Lyon, documentary filmmaker and board member, Women in Film Cincinnati


The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang, 2019. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

Lulu Wang’s The Farewell stars Awkwafina and Shuzhen Zhao and was released by indie studio A24. “Based on a real life lie,” the touching story explores one family’s decision to withhold telling their beloved matriarch of her fatal cancer diagnosis. For insight into the film’s making, check out Wang’s podcast version of the story on This American Life, as well as her insightful interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

— C. Jacqueline Wood, Founder and Director, The Mini Microcinema and Film Curator at Large, FotoFocus


Medicine for Melancholy, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, 2008. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

The first feature film by acclaimed writer and director Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy sees twenty-four hours with freshly acquainted protagonists Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Heggins). The city of San Francisco feels like a third main character, serving as both gorgeous backdrop and impetus for conversations spanning gentrification and identity politics. Cinematographer James Laxton portrays the city in entrancing desaturated hues, with occasional color seeping into not quite black-and-white scenes.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

Our July lineup highlights films that portray the richness and strength of communities and families.

A Place of Our Own, directed by Stanley Nelson, 2004. Rent or buy on Amazon

Released in 2004, A Place of Our Own spotlights award-winning filmmaker and MacArthur Fellow Stanley Nelson (The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities) and his family's experiences vacationing at Oak Bluffs, an upper-middle class black enclave on Martha's Vineyard. Nelson delves into the history and significance of the community as well as how the resort area evolved over the years. As with all of Nelson's work, A Place of Our Own lays bare the commonality of our human experiences.

— tt stern-enzi, Film Critic & Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival Programmer


The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, 2010. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

The Kids Are Alright is a keenly observed portrait of a marriage put to the test, and of human behavior in the face of change. Lesbian couple Nic and Jules have raised two children thanks to an anonymous sperm donor. Joni and younger brother Laser decide to contact donor Paul, setting off a chain reaction. Cholodenko’s smart comedy is a witty, warm exploration of family life that’s conventional and unconventional in equal measure.

— Amy Faust, Film and Television Camera Operator


Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Norman Jewison, 1971. Rent on all major VOD Services

This popular 1971 screen adaptation has continued to speak to generations, remains relevant to current events, and evokes important universal themes of tradition, identity, survival, struggle and change while exploring the experiences of a Jewish family in an old-world, small town. Though there is an undercurrent of oppression, the well-paced three hours of storytelling by Tevye the milkman about his life, family, and community are filled with music, humor, and love.

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (Max Lewkowcz, 2019) is a wonderful documentary about the origin and legacy of the musical that was featured in the 2020 Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, and is available on Kanopy and on-demand services.

— Frances Kahan, Cultural Arts Manager, Mayerson JCC


The House by the Sea (La Villa), directed by Robert Guédiguian, 2017, France. Rent on Amazon (free with Prime subscription)

The French director’s 20th feature film is part of a body of work that constantly interrogates family and community. Like most of his other films, it is set in the same terrain in southern France and tells a story about the evolution of a working class community. The continuity across his work is in part due to his practice of always working with the same troupe or family of actors, including his partner Ariane Ascaride. The House by the Sea adds an interesting twist to the family theme and addresses the plight of refugees coming into Europe from Syria starting in 2015. Although familiarity with the director’s work will change your viewing experience, the film stands alone and is a good entry point to Guédiguian’s work.

— Michael Gott, Director of Programming at the Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at UC


Roller Dreams, directed by Kate Hickey, 2018. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Oscillating from electrifying to sentimental to shattering, Kate Hickey’s directorial debut documentary blends joyful 1980s footage with 2000s interviews and reunions to create a portrait of the Venice Beach roller dancing community. The film demonstrates that L.A.’s Venice Beach owes its vibrant reputation to the roller dancers’ participatory performances. Hickey then traces the process of gentrification that ultimately shut down “Disco Alley.” Personal, authentic and affecting, Roller Dreams is both a defiant celebration and a frank look at systemic racism.  

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

For our June line-up, we polled the CAM curatorial team for films teeming with art, fashion, and design. From biopics to art-filled escapades, here are their screen-worthy picks.


Miss Hokusai, directed by Keiichi Hara, 2015. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Fiercely talented O-Ei assists her father in his studio, often without credit, in this coming-of-age tale about an underrecognized woman artist. Adapted from the manga and anime of the same name, Miss Hokusai presents a lyrical series of vignettes about O-Ei, who is the daughter of acclaimed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Fans of Japanese animation will find a lot to appreciate here, especially if they examine Hokusai’s works to see where the film drew inspiration. I personally was delighted by a cameo appearance by Hokusai's famed The Great Daruma, a colossal painting of the revered Buddhist monk of the same name.

— Lynne Pearson, Curatorial Assistant for East Asian Art


Editor’s note – if you enjoy Miss Hokusai, head to Cincinnati’s Esquire Theatre virtual screening room for Keiichi Hara’s newest release, The Wonderland.


Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Imagine for a moment you are stuck in your house, forced by circumstance to watch the outside world from your window…  How has this been going for you? For photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, confinement lays bare the irresistible drives that lurk at the heart of photography, setting off a perilous chain of events. If you’ve (hopefully) avoided such extremes over the past several weeks, you can still take advantage of evenings at home to reacquaint yourself with this classic, drum-tight and incredibly satisfying piece of filmmaking. Don’t forget: as the viewer of the film, you’re looking through a lens avidly, too.

— Nathaniel M. Stein, Associate Curator of Photography


Through a Lens Darkly, directed by Thomas Allen Harris, 2014. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Taking inspiration from photographer and curator Deborah Willis’s groundbreaking book Reflections in Black (2000), Harris’s gripping documentary traces a history of photography by black Americans. The film weaves together images from family albums and compelling works by contemporary artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Hank Willis Thomas. In stark contrast, Harris’s survey also shines an unforgiving light on images of racist stereotypes and black trauma that permeate our cultural consciousness. The result is a complex look at American history and the way photographs shape how we understand who we are.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images


McQueen, directed by Ian Bonhôte, 2018. Rent on major VOD Services

Explore the world of Alexander McQueen in this riveting documentary about one of the most visionary fashion designers of our time. Watch McQueen’s evolution from his first collections to his last before his untimely death in 2010. Film footage of the designer himself, his studio and runway shows along with interviews with family, close friends, and associates tell the story of this celebrated fashion designer.  

— Cynthia Amnéus, Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles


Caravaggio, directed by Derek Jarman, 1986. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

As a student of art history, I admire the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio, and this film presents a diverting treasure hunt of his paintings. Jarman captures Caravaggio’s mesmerizing aesthetic 400 years later by using minimalistic sets, dramatic lighting, theatrical costumes, and emotional characters. But don’t expect a biopic – this is Jarman’s interpretation of Caravaggio’s (admittedly tumultuous) life, including a delirious narrator speaking in a poetic stream of consciousness and many purposeful anachronisms (tuxedos! typewriters!). Known for its groundbreaking queer representation, this film raises questions of artifice and realism that were as relevant in 1600 as they are today.

— Liz Simmons, Curatorial Research Assistant


Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, directed by Jacques Demy, 1967. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

Centering around twins Delphine and Solange, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a romantic comedy of errors where love is always one step out of reach. Maxence, a young sailor passing through town, has painted a vision of his ideal woman and hopes to find her one day. The portrait astonishingly resembles Delphine, who notices the painting in a local gallery and hopes to find her admirer. Separately, Solange hopes to become a famous composer and is eventually introduced to American composer Andy Miller, played by the enigmatic Gene Kelly. Will the twins find what they are looking for? This film is quintessentially 1960s, with love, art, music, and dancing. Oh, and a murder plot…  

— Adam MacPhàrlain, Curatorial Assistant and Collections Manager for Fashion Arts & Textiles


The Young Victoria, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, 2009. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Growing tired of your own four walls and décor? Escape and enjoy the sumptuous interiors and art collections of Blenheim Palace, Ham House, Lancaster House and Ditchley Park without moving from your couch or dressing for dinner. These magnificent homes provide the backdrop for the story of the strong-willed Victoria and her budding love affair with Prince Albert. Once married, this royal power couple became great supporters of the arts and sciences as collectors and patrons and as organizers of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition). This world’s fair, and those that followed it, as well as the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) inspired the formation of the Cincinnati Art Museum and its collections. After watching, discover works from our 18th- and 19th-century European and British decorative arts via our online collection, or enjoy the Royal Collection Trust’s online exhibition, Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.

— Amy Dehan, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design


Funny Face, directed by Stanley Donen, 1957. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Lose yourself in an oldie but goodie! Set in New York City and fabulous Paree, Funny Face charts the transformation of a dowdy bookseller into a glamourous fashion model as she falls in love. Enjoy costumes by Edith Head, Paris fashions by Hubert de Givenchy alongside the incomparable dancing of Fred Astaire, not to mention Audrey Hepburn, and music by Gershwin.  

— Cynthia Amnéus, Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles

In May we’re focusing on films that offer extraordinary vistas. Here are a few armchair journeys from our at-home queues.


The Juniper Tree, directed by Nietzchka Keene, 1990. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Atmospheric Icelandic hillsides filmed in crisp black and white make for an uncanny destination in Nietzchka Keene’s Juniper Tree. Her adaptation of the Grimm fairytale by the same name sees two sisters seeking shelter after their mother has been executed for witchcraft. Restored from the original 35 mm camera negative in 2019, this feature film was the first for both American writer and director Keene and lead actor Björk. Ripe with meanings, the story unfolds in haunting stanzas.  

—Emily Bauman, Film Programmer, Moving Images


Local Hero, directed by Bill Forsyth, 1983. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

A Houston oil company sends an up-and-coming executive to Scotland with the mission of buying an entire seaside village and erecting an oil refinery. This charmingly small comedy offers quirky characters, beautiful scenery, and thoughtful reflections on important issues. Bill Forsyth’s direction, Chris Menges’ cinematography, and Mark Knopfler’s score keep the film moving at a gentle pace. How many films are generous enough to sympathize with a crackpot oil tycoon and an environmentally conscious marine biologist?

— Todd Herzog, Director, Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at the University of Cincinnati


Tracks, directed by John Curran, 2013. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Tracks is a film that captures the harshness and wild beauty of the Australian outback. In this true story of fortitude and fragility, Robyn Davidson treks 1700 miles across the desert. Evoking the palette of a watercolor painting, cinematographer Mandy Walker captures the texture of the majestic, yet unforgiving terrain. Be ready to wipe the dust off because by the time the film ends, you'll feel you've traveled the distance yourself.

— Jaime Meyers Schlenck, Film and Television Editor

In April, we’re focusing on great films that make us smile. We all have movies that feel like old friends or that are simply a pleasure to spend time with. Here are a few from our at-home queues.


Charade, directed by Stanley Donen, 1963. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant cavort through the effortlessly modern backdrop of early 1960s Paris. I could probably stop there, but If you need further convincing, the film expertly straddles the line between rom-com and thriller, swinging from laugh-out-loud goofy to nail-bitingly tense without seeming forced, and the plot twists will keep you guessing to the very end. A passel of recognizable supporting actors round out the fun.

— Emily Bauman, Film Programmer, Moving Images


Hairspray, directed by John Waters, 1988. Rent on any Video-on-Demand service

There's so much to love about the original Hairspray: the dancing, the ‘60s pop soundtrack, the costumes. But for me, it's all about Divine. She commits so fully to the role of Edna Turnblad and can make me laugh by just raising an eyebrow. 

— Russell Ihrig, CAM Associate Director of Interpretive Programming


The Whistlers (La Gomera), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019. Available to stream through the Esquire or Cincinnati World Cinema

Porumboiu was part of a Romanian “new wave” that burst onto the international scene in the mid-2000s to great slowly paced, darkly humorous, and bleak portrayals of a society in shambles. The Whistlers, by contrast, is an exuberant crime caper that trades a dreary postcommunist setting for the beautiful Canary Islands and allows viewers the opportunity to simultaneously indulge their cinephilia and their wanderlust. The Whistlers may inspire you to plan a dive into recent Romanian cinema now or an island vacation later.

— Michael Gott, Director of Programming at the UC Center for Film & Media Studies