Walker Art Center

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Free Films in the Mediatheque

Discover the history of cinema in the Walker’s newly remodeled self-select cinema. The Bentson Mediatheque is a place to make new discoveries in moving image and get reacquainted with old favorites. Choose from more than 200 titles from the Ruben/Benston Moving Image Collection, or select one of our specially curated playlists accessible via touchscreen controls. Unique to the Walker, the Bentson Mediatheque offers a one-of-a-kind cinema experience.

Featured Playlists on Target Free Thursday Nights


March 2: Fade to Black

A double bill features Dudley Murphy’s controversial musical shorts St. Louis Blues and Black and Tan (both 1929), the former of which includes the only known film appearance by the Empress of Blues, Bessie Smith. Previously known for his work on the experimental Dada film Ballet Mechanique (1923–24), Murphy collaborated with Smith, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, and an all–African American cast, though both titles were funded and shot by a white director and crew. These films were made between the end of silent film era and the beginning of the “talkies”—a short and highly musical period in film history that coincided with the Harlem Renaissance and increased, yet tightly controlled, African American visibility on screen. Programmed by Mason Leaver-Yap. 1928–1929, 38 min. (looped).

March 9: Two Films by Charles Atlas (in person)

Program begins at 6:30 pm
Artist Charles Atlas will introduce screenings of Locale (1979) and Channels/Inserts (1982), two of his early collaborative films with choreographer Merce Cunningham. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time. 1978/1982, 62 min.

March 16: Body Humor

From silent film to performance art, Body Humor is a collection of shorts that explores the communicative potential of physical comedy. Programmed by Dylan Redford. 1922–2004, 108 min.


Performance duo HIJACK (Kristin Van Loon & Arwen Wilder) will occupy the Mediatheque to create dances in response to moving image works selected from the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection. Specializing in the inappropriate, the duo toys with the audience’s expectations through unconventional interpretations of the space. The performers will return for two additional performances in spring and summer 2017.

March 30: East, West, Home Is Best

Taking its title from Czechoslovak director Josef Kluge’s allegorical 1969 puppet film about a young chicken leaving home, this series of shorts from postwar East Central Europe bridges beloved children’s animation and the avant-garde. Many of the selections are drawn from the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection. Presented as part of the University of Minnesota symposium Remapping European Media Cultures during the Cold War: Networks, Encounters, Exchanges, the screening is followed by a panel discussion. 1965–1985, 65 min.


April 6: Hans Richter: A Birthday Celebration

Hans Richter was born in Berlin on April 6, 1888; the influential and enigmatic Dadaist would have turned 129 this year. In celebration, this screening presents a program of Richter’s early films, beginning in 1921 with Rhythmus 21, a landmark in avant-garde filmmaking. Following his trajectory into the late 1920s—Richter’s work becoming more and more surreal, often humorous, and increasingly a platform for social and political commentary—the films tell the story of an anti-artist’s reluctant embrace of the anti-film. Programmed by Joseph Franklin. 1921–1929, 34 min (looped).

April 13: Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther

Filmed in 1969 while director William Klein was in Algiers for the Panafrican Festival of Algiers, this documentary is a portrait of Black Panther member Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver was in exile in Algiers after being accused of murder in the United States and had approached Klein with the hopes of making a film that would explain why he expatriated to Algeria. From personal interviews and public speeches to footage of the Berkeley riots and war efforts in Guinea Bissau, Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther crystallizes the connection between culture and politics while exploring what it means to be “revolutionary.” 1970, 75 min.


Major support to preserve, digitize, and present the Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection is generously provided by the Bentson Foundation.

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