Pakula, Politics and Paranoia: The US Elections

6–8 November

The 2020 U.S. presidential election takes place on Tuesday November 3, when voters will select presidential electors who will vote on 14 December to elect either a new president and vice president or reelect the incumbents. We couldn’t resist the chance to curate a short season of films to mark this event, starting with a rare screening of Albert Maysles, Robert Drew and D.A. Pennebaker’s fascinating documentary, Primary, about the 1960 Wisconsin primary election between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey.

Film historian, biographer, screenwriter and author Joseph McBride has kindly agreed to pre-record a Q&A with us for screening alongside Primary. Joe worked for and met Kennedy during the 1960 Wisconsin primary and can even be glimpsed briefly in the film.

Alan J. Pakula’s “Paranoia Trilogy”, Klute (1971), The Parallax View (1974) and All the President’s Men (1976) presents very different characters, but they have one thing in common: they are all ordinary Americans from everyday professions who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Bound together by a shared cynicism, Pakula’s characters are increasingly overwhelmed as they learn the truth about power and those in government who wield it against their own citizens. Relying on their own instincts these characters ultimately rise above the spectre of helplessness and social isolation, with the truth as their ultimate guide.

And on a sentimental note, Frank Capra’s 1939 comedy-drama Mr Smith Goes to Washington, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur is a stone cold classic which, even more than 80 years on, has lost none of its relevance.

Primary with Q&A (N/A)

Friday 6 Nov

Robert Drew's groundbreaking 1960 film PRIMARY is one of the most important and influential documentaries in the history of the medium. A pioneering work in the documentary movement that came to be known as cinéma vérité, PRIMARY…

Klute (15)

Saturday 7 Nov

The first of director Alan J. Pakula's "Paranoia Trilogy" and for many the best of the three. A claustrophobic psychological thriller originally released in 1971 to wide citical acclaim which also translated into great success at the box office.

Parallax View & All Presidents (15)

Saturday 7 Nov

US Elections: Pakula, Paranoia & Politics Double Bill … THE PARALLAX VIEW (1974) d. Alan J. Pakula Cast: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn - 102mins … Made in 1974 when the so called "New American Cinema" era that delivered so many…

Mr Smith Goes to Washington (U)

Sunday 8 Nov

Few films succeed in being relevant a decade or two after its release, but Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is still relevant 81 years later, especially in a voting year with questionable candidates. When the idealistic young Jefferson Smith (James…

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