OVID’s April Lineup: Arab American Heritage Month, films from Jem Cohen, exclusive shorts by Wayne Koestenbaum + a film on controversial filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk…

OVID in April presents 14 new films!

To mark Arab American Heritage Month, we have partnered with the Arab Film and Media Institute on a collection of docs and features they would like to spotlight in our collection, with new additions including Sirens by Rita Baghdadi, about members from a burgeoning thrash metal band on the outskirts of Beirut wrestling with friendship, and Beauty and the Dogs by Kaouther Ben Hania (director of Oscar-Nominated and César Award-winning Four Daughters), hailed by The Hollywood Reporter as a “harrowing and necessary film.”

This month we’ll also present two films by Jem Cohen, including his quietly enchanting magnum opus Museum Hours, an Austrian-American drama set in and around Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. In a glowing review for Slant Magazine, Jesse Cataldo writes: “Imagine an ascetic, much wiser version of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, without any of the jagged concessions toward standard Hollywood plotting.”

OVID is excited to exclusively premiere a selection of recent short films by the polymorphously brilliant “pleasure-seeker par excellence” Wayne Koestenbaum—an acclaimed poet, critic, painter, filmmaker, and distinguished professor at CUNY. Rolling out over the coming months to spread the joy, we bring you the first batch of these strangely mesmerizing encounters, including Stigma Pudding and The Gays.

Three more films on the docket from Altered Innocence, including Astrakan by David Depesseville and David Buckley’s bathhouse drama Saturday Night at the Baths. Plus, a documentary on the cult Polish filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk, with special guests including Terry Gilliam, Bertrand Bonello, Neil Jordan, Andrzej Wajda, Patrice Leconte, and Slavoj Zizek.

We round out the month with more dramas from Oscilloscope, including Sophia Takal’s Always Shine, starring Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald, praised by Vogue as a “chillingly resonant horror movie about toxic female friendship.”

Full details on April’s complete lineup are below!

(Image from David Buckley's Saturday Night at the Baths, premiering on OVID on April 16th)
Astrakan (2022)

Thursday, April 4

Directed by David Depesseville
With Mirko Giannini, Jehnny Beth, Bastien Bouillon, Théo Costa-Marini
Altered Innocence | Feature | France | 2022

When Samuel, a young orphan, is sent to live with foster parents Marie and Clement, he is gradually forced to face the demons he’s holding on to internally. Swept up in the motions of coming of age for the very first time — falling in love with the girl next door, exploring hobbies and indulging in childhood passions — he also begins to learn of the secrets his foster family are keeping, leading him to question everything around him. As these questions emerge, Samuel is pushed in and out of crippling anguish, bridging a harsh gap between dense realism and feverish fantasy which leads to a stunning and transcendent final act.

“A gripping, impressionist rendering of the raw precariousness of youth.” —The Film Stage

Sirens (2022)

Tuesday, April 9

Directed by Rita Baghdadi
Oscilloscope | Documentary | USA | 2022

Sirens intimately chronicles the lives and music of Slave to Sirens, a band made up of five young metalheads members wrestle with friendship, sexuality, and destruction as their burgeoning fame and music serves as a refuge to Beirut’s youth culture. At the band’s core are its two founding members, Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara, whose complicated relationship threatens the very fabric of the band.

“Sirens is a powerful reminder that punk isn’t dead if you know where to look.” —IndieWire

“A roof-raising rock-doc with heart to match its decibels.” —Screen International

Beauty and the Dogs
Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania
With Mariam Al Ferjani, Ghanem Zrelly, Mohamed Akkari
Oscilloscope | Feature | Tunisia, France | 2017

When Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, is raped by police officers after leaving a party, she is propelled into a harrowing night in which she must fight for her rights even though the law tilts on the side of her assailants. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Kaouther Ben Hania’s Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on. A rare, startling film from a female Tunisian director, it’s a striking critique of a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry.

“Confronts issues rarely addressed so frankly – at least in this part of the world – with a story that is both powerful and important.” —The Washington Post

“A harrowing and necessary film.” —The Hollywood Reporter

Museum Hours (2012)

Thursday, April 11

Museum Hours
Directed by Jem Cohen
Cinema Guild | Feature | USA | 2012

An enchanting tale of two adrift strangers who find refuge in Vienna’s grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum. Johann, a museum guard, spends his days silently observing both the art and the visitors. Anne, suddenly called to Vienna from overseas, has been wandering the city in a state of limbo. A chance meeting sparks a deepening connection that draws them through the halls of the museum and the streets of the city. Exquisitely photographed, Museum Hours is an exploration of an unseen Vienna, and an ode to the power of art to both mirror and alter our lives.

Museum Hours is a unique film that creates a richly rewarding experience from the scraps of life. It doesn’t rely on A-list actors or expensive sets; true that it films inside one of the world’s greatest museums, but it also questions what it is that we value in the museum experience.” —RogerEbert.com

“While the story at its core is lovely, it’s the delicate treatment of that story, and the deftness exhibited in incorporating a purposefully small narrative within an achingly expansive context, that makes the film a masterpiece.” —Slant Magazine

“Four Stars! An exhilarating journey through art and life.” Washington Post

Directed by Jem Cohen
Cinema Guild | Documentary | USA | 2015

Counting’s fifteen linked chapters conjoin city symphony, diary film, and personal/political essay (documentary’s unruly stepchildren) to build a vivid portrait of contemporary life. Shot in locations including Russia, Istanbul, and New York City, its subjects range from naturally occurring Moscow street theater to NSA spying to the dismantling of Brooklyn landmarks. In Cohen’s 30-year exploration of documentary as a path of open inquiry, the film is perhaps his most personal reckoning.

“Sublime. Finds beauty and grace at the most unexpected moments.” —New York Observer

“Cohen’s most palpably personal and affecting film… a gorgeously photographed drift through cities.” —The Guardian

Saturday Night at the Baths (1975)

Tuesday, April 16

Saturday Night at the Baths
Directed by David Buckley
Altered Innocence | Feature | USA | 1975

A landmark excursion into bisexuality, 70s relationship politics, and the historical importance of gay bathhouse culture. When struggling pianist Michael lands a job at the legendary Continental Baths in NYC, his wife Tracy encourages him, emphasizing how special this institution is. Michael struggles with his homophobia, yet at the same time starts to develop feelings for his confident and sexually free co-worker Scotti. Shot on-location inside the famous Continental Baths, Saturday Night at the Baths is a sublime work of queer cinema from one of the most groundbreaking periods in gay and bisexual film history.

“Part charmingly awkward coming-out narrative, part document of a disappearing culture.” —Film Comment

Five short films by Wayne Koestenbaum

Thursday, April 18

Intimacies and Agglomerations
Stigma Pudding
The Gays
The Blood Drinkers
The Window and the Door

Directed by Wayne Koestenbaum
Short Films | USA | 2023–2024

A natural extension of his discursive criticism, poetry, and painting, Wayne Koestenbaum’s filmic forays are poetic and mesmeric, and sometimes deliriously farcical. His luxuriously lo-fi monologues drip with spontaneous wit and slippery eroticism. His stop-motion animations with improvised piano accompaniments are visually dazzling, scrappy yet delicate, and with nimble musical scores of his own devising. His experiments with hand-painted and hand-altered 16mm film, using found footage or blank film stock, feature explosive color and dream-like Pop patterning. Other shorts are spare experiments in cinéma-vérité—observational glimpses of private lives. We will leak this expansive body of work in batches over the coming months to spread the joy. 

A New York-based artist, performer, filmmaker, poet, cultural critic—and Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature at the City University of New York, Koestenbaum had written acclaimed books about Andy Warhol, opera, Harpo Marx, humiliation, and Jackie Onassis. He is perhaps best known for his essays (collected in his books My 1980s & Other EssaysFigure It Out, and Cleavage), which combine autobiography and analysis with rueful, comic brio. His many collections of poetry include Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films and Camp Marmalade. His latest collection of poetry, Stubble Archipelago, is out now from Semiotext(e).
“[Koestenbaum] is not without genius, mischief, or gonads. When the lurid steam clears, his bedewed lines coruscate amidst hot shadows that leap with a kind of pink spermy glee. Hilarious, gorgeous, intellectually playful, fairy-light… all in ways I’ve NEVER encountered before. Utterly thrilling!” Guy Maddin

“Koestenbaum is a pleasure seeker par excellence… [He] delights in the intricacies of language, carousing across staid grammars for the most vivid and vivifying forms of engagement.” Tausif Noor, Interview Magazine 

“Koestenbaum is an exuberant critic, enraptured poet, intoxicated historian… I can hardly think of a writer who is so exacting about his own enthusiasms, so diligent in his pursuit of joy, so principled in the defense of pleasure.” Brian Dillon, Frieze


Tuesday, April 23

Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk
Directed by Kuba Mikurda
Altered Innocence | Documentary | Poland, Estonia | 2018

How does a filmmaker go from creating cutting-edge work and competing in Cannes to being labeled a failed erotic filmmaker? The debut documentary feature from Polish critic and academic Kuba Mikurda investigates the work of Walerian Borowczyk, a director of unparalleled creativity & sensitivity, revered in the 1970s for creations including Goto, Island of Love, The Beast, & Immoral Tales. The film interviews his closest collaborators, filmmakers, and leading intellectuals who put his work into perspective, including Bertrand Bonello, Neil Jordan, Patrice Leconte, Slavoj Žižek, Terry Gilliam and the late Andrzej Wajda.

“A fascinating appreciation… very entertaining.” —48 Hills

Always Shine (2016)

Thursday, April 25

Always Shine
Directed by Sophia Takal
With Mackenzie Davis, Caitlin FitzGerald, Alexander Koch, Jane Adams
Oscilloscope | Feature | USA | 2016

Two friends, both actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald), leave Los Angeles for Big Sur embarking on a weekend getaway to reconnect. Once alone, however, the two women’s suppressed jealousies and deep-seated resentments bubble to the surface, causing them to lose grasp not just of the true nature of their relationship, but also of their own identities.

“A deft, assured movie with a sly self-reflexive undercurrent containing commentary on sexism and self-idealization that’s provocative” —The New York Times

“An exploration of the impossible tightrope act women perform just to stay within the bounds of acceptable femininity, and it culminates in a nightmarish horror plot.” —Vogue

“A dazzlingly confident film, spinning like a wind-up toy, yet slicing with insight on each go-round.” —Flavorwire

What Happened Was…
Directed by Tom Noonan
With Tom Noonan and Karen Sillas
Oscilloscope | Feature | USA | 1994

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Screenwriting Award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, Tom Noonan’s directorial debut is a darkly humorous take on dating dread. Featuring powerhouse performances by Noonan and Karen Sillas as two lonely hearts spending one claustrophobic Friday night together in an imposing apartment, the film exposes with startling clarity the ways in which people struggle to connect.

“A miraculous autopsy of a first date, capturing perfectly the sustained tension in which attraction summons an entire cosmos of possibilities… quietly devastating.”
—Screen Slate

“Deft and continually surprising… Tom Noonan delivered his magnum opus right out of the gate.” —Reeling Reviews

Complete list of films premiering on OVID this month (in alphabetical order):

Always Shine, Sophia Takal (2016)
Astrakan, David Depesseville (2022)
Beauty and the Dogs, Kaouther Ben Hania (2017)
Counting, Jem Cohen (2015)
Intimacies and Agglomerations, Wayne Koestenbaum (2023)
Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk, Kuba Mikurda (2018)
Museum Hours, Jem Cohen (2012)
Saturday Night at the Baths, David Buckley (1975)
Sirens, Rita Baghdadi (2022)
Stigma Pudding, Wayne Koestenbaum (2024)
The Blood Drinkers, Wayne Koestenbaum (2024)
The Gays, Wayne Koestenbaum (2023)
The Window and the Door, Wayne Koestenbaum (2023)
What Happened Was…, Tom Noonan (1994)

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