WKU Midnight Movies is a student-run film series focusing on bold international cinema that is challenging, unconventional, and unfamiliar.
For the past three years the “Midnight Movies” series has presented a variety of cult classics and international genre films with the occasional exploitation or counterculture work thrown into the mix.
The “midnight movie” is a cultural phenomenon that has its roots in late-night screenings of low-budget genre films and repeat screenings of odd or campy films that enabled them to develop devout followings. But in addition to being a venue for B movies and cult films, the midnight time slot also served as a countercultural setting in which adventurous filmgoers sought out avant-garde, underground, and offbeat cinema that didn’t fit in with the mainstream and wasn’t easily categorized.
While the midnight movie saw its heyday in the 1970s, there are still a substantial amount of theaters across the US that participate in midnight-movie programming. Unfortunately, a significant portion of that programming revolves around simply presenting films that have preexisting cult followings or is cashing in on the nostalgia factor of box office hits from previous decades. I do realize that money and attendance is an issue for many theaters today. Fortunately, when it comes to the WKU Midnight Movies series, I am in a position where an obligation to make money isn’t an issue.
After recently coming across a couple of articles online (here and here), I was prompted to reevaluate the current state of film exhibition and programming in the US, and my tiny place in it, and the need for access to the foreign and unfamiliar. I decided to scrap the lineup I initially had planned for this semester and try something different.
There is definitely a place for the aforementioned fun cult movie, but I want to reassess what it means to be a “midnight movie” and place a stronger emphasis on bold international cinema, both new and old, and get back to presenting films that subvert the norm and run counter to the mainstream. I’ve put together a series of films that were carefully considered and then impulsively selected. This semester’s lineup is an eclectic mix—a lurid “rap musical” shot in black and white, a Communist propaganda film with ambitious cinematography, an anarchic and adventurous farce that is often considered “one of the great works of feminist cinema,” an experimental feature focusing on humanity and the natural world, and a sadomasochistic love story that might induce nauseous revulsion.
None of the films in the lineup are readily available online, so there is somewhat limited access to these titles, particularly on a big screen in a communal environment. So grab a friend (or several) and take a chance on a late-night movie. Some of the films might be considered confrontational, challenging in terms of content and/or form, frustrating, downright weird, potentially psychologically traumatizing, and maybe even a little fun, but hopefully they will all possess a strong element of unfamiliarity.
“Most people choose movies that provide exactly what they expect, and tell them things they already know. Others are more curious. We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds.” – Roger Ebert