“An American in Paris” will kick off Mercer Island’s Friday Night Films Jan. 10. Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

“An American in Paris” will kick off Mercer Island’s Friday Night Films Jan. 10. Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons

Island’s Friday Night Films returns for 15th year

Friday Night Films kicks off January 10.

  • Wednesday, January 8, 2020 10:57am
  • News

Mercer Island’s Friday film series returns with a new name and a fresh look to celebrate the 15th year of free movies on Mercer Island.

Discover the art of film through a dozen films about visual arts, dance, music and theater. From musicals to documentaries, animated features to biopics, the season is designed to delight art lovers of all ages.

Most screenings start at 7:30 p.m. at Aljoya (2430 76th Avenue Southeast). Film historian Lance Rhoades sets the stage with an introduction for each film and then leads a question and answer session to share more insights and interesting facts. All films are free and open to the public.

Lance Rhoades is a graduate in literature and cinema studies from The University of Washington, where he has taught in the cinema studies, comparative history of ideas, ethnic studies, American Indian studies, and comparative literature departments and was a recipient of the university’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Rhoades regularly presents talks throughout North America, Asia and Europe on cultural history in film, and each year he teaches a course in humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also has been a featured scholar on Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau, and he has programmed the Arts Council’s film series since its inception.


Jan. 10: “An American in Paris” (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) – Music by George Gershwin and choreography from Gene Kelly light up the musical comedy. A winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the film features classics such as “I Got Rhythm” as well as a ballet finale performed to Gershwin’s jazz-influenced orchestral piece, “An American in Paris.”

Feb. 7: “Bird” (Clint Eastwood, 1988) – Forest Whitaker plays Charlie “Bird” Parker in a tribute to the life and music of the revolutionary alto saxophonist.

Feb. 28: “The Concert” (Radu Mihaileanu, 2009) – The 2009 French comedy-drama follows the misadventures of a ragtag symphony orchestra traveling from Moscow to Paris to perform under false pretenses. (Film notes: Presented in French with English subtitles.) The screening takes place at 7 p.m. at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, 3605 85th Avenue Southeast.

March 6: “Immortal Beloved” (Bernard Rose, 1994) – After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, his assistant Anton Schindler attempts to discover the true identity of the “immortal beloved” addressed in three letters from the late composer’s estate. Gary Oldman portrays the infamous composer in a semi-biographical account of Beethoven’s life.

March 27: “Le Mystere Picasso” (Henri-Georges Couzot, 1956) – Stop-motion and time-lapse photography capture revolutionary painter Pablo Picasso’s creative process in a French documentary. (Film notes: Presented in French with English subtitles.) Sponsored by the Mercer Island Sister City Association. Enjoy wine and cheese starting at 6:30 p.m., courtesy of Aljoya.

April 3: “Mad Hot Ballroom” (Marilyn Agrelo, 2005) – Follow the lives of several fifth graders in New York City as they prepare for a ballroom dancing competition in a heartwarming documentary.

May 1: “Fantasia 2000” (Walt Disney Studios, 1999) – Sixty (60) years after the release of Fantasia, a new generation of Disney artists present exciting visual interpretations of classical music compositions by Beethoven, Stravinsky and Gershwin.


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