Are you the sort of person who salivates at the prospect of watching a seven-hour Hungarian movie in a theater? We have found your people.
Actually, odds are that if you are a fan of classic, foreign and experimental film in Madison, you’ve already discovered the UW Cinematheque, the free on-campus film series that programs a mix of diverse films with one common denominator — they wouldn’t screen on a movie theater in Madison otherwise.
Cinematheque programmer Jim Healy released the spring 2020 series Friday afternoon, which includes the Madison premiere of “63 Up,” the latest and supposedly final installment of the long-running documentary series, the final film by the late French director Agnes Varda, and a retrospective of the work of filmmaker Chantal Akerman.
And, yes, that seven-hour Hungarian film, Bela Tarr’s opus “Satantango.”
All screenings are free and open to the public, but Cinematheque, a production of the UW-Madison’s Communications Arts Department, accepts and encourage donations. Seating is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
Here are a few highlights from the upcoming season, which kicks off Jan. 30. All screenings are at 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., unless otherwise noted:
Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, 7 p.m.
“Cunningham 3-D” — The Cinematheque fires up its 3-D projector for the Madison premiere (and likely only screenings) of this documentary about choreographer Merce Cunningham, who worked with John Cage and Andy Warhol, among others.
Feb. 1, 1 p.m.
“Satantango” — Set aside the day to see Bela Tarr’s 450-minute masterpiece, called the “cinephile’s Mount Everest” in a new restored print. There’ll be a short intermission and a 90-minute dinner break.
Feb. 7, 7 p.m.
“Varda by Agnes” — The late director clearly meant her final film, screening here in its Madison premiere, to be a parting gift to her fans, a free-associative and playful journey back through her six-decade film career and the passions of her life.
Feb. 21, 7 p.m. and Feb. 22, 2 p.m.
“63 Up” — Every seven years, filmmaker Michael Apted revisits the same group of people as they grow older, creating an important and moving series of documentaries that chronicles the passing of time. This latest installment may be the most poignant; according to a recent New York Times Magazine article, due to Apted’s health issues, it will likely be the last.
Feb. 27, 7 p.m.
“The Great Escape” — John Sturges’ entertaining thriller about World War II POWs who orchestrated a daring prison break (which gets a sly reference in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time . . . In Hollywood”) returns to the big screen in a restored print, with a talk by film scholar Dana Polan.
Feb. 28, 7 p.m.
“Kiss of the Spider Woman” — Hector Babenco’s 1985 film about two inmates (William Hurt and Raul Julia) in a South American prison who form a deep and unexpected bond returns in a special 35mm print. In a special bonus, audience members will get a free copy of the original Manuel Puig novel while supplies last.
Feb. 29, 7 p.m.
“Battle of the Century” and more restored Laurel & Hardy — This season’s Cinematheque is full of restored films from the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the crown jewel may be this collection of four short films by the classic comedy duo of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. 1929’s “Battle,” featuring the duo’s most epic pie fight, was thought lost until a print was discovered in 2015.
March 21, 7 p.m.
“Brawl in Cell Block 99” — The Cinematheque is presenting all three films by writer-director S. Craig Zahler, whose films mix disturbing violence, rich dialogue, leisurely pacing and button-pushing politics, like this film starring Vince Vaughn as a brutal ex-con. Zahler’s co-composer on all three films is UW-Whitewater professor Jeff Herriott, who will appear at this screening to talk about his work with Zahler.
April 19, 2 p.m.
“Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai Du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” — Chantal Akerman’s influential masterpiece follows the routines of a single mother’s life over 200 minutes, making the mundane ring with meaning. This film is screening at the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave.
April 24, 7 p.m.
“The Cotton Club Encore” — Released in 1984, Francis Ford Coppola’s Jazz Age drama was maligned by critics and ignored by audiences upon release. Now, Coppola has re-edited the film and inserted several never-before-seen sequences, which many present-day critics say has created an entirely different and much-improved film.