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The Women Behind the Programs

The women behind the programs at the IMA sit down and answer a few questions about how and why they do what they do…

How do you pick films for Summer Nights and Winter Nights?

Lindsay Hamman:   For Summer Nights it’s more of a pop-culture vibe, with popular movies that people have seen before, but would love to see again on the big screen.  And it’s our 36th year, so we have a long list of movies that we have screened over the years.  We try to go through and hit a variety of decades and a variety of genres, and we try to keep a seven to ten year gap between the favorites.  Like Singing in the Rain, or Psycho, or something like that. We always try to include a Hitchcock, an action film, a scary option, and a musical; we try to have as much variety as we can.

Anne Laker:  With Winter Nights… well, there aren’t a lot of places you can see classic film on the big screen. So we love to look back in cinematic history and pick some gems that people may have heard about, but haven’t seen. Then we try to make it a whole experience.  Sometime we try to Skype with a film historian or director, or throw in a cartoon. And we love showing films on 35mm if we can, if that was the original form in which the film was created. We burn through our Netflix account, and watch all kinds of film before we make our final choices.

Summer Nights at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

How do you decide on programs that you book throughout the year?

Anne: We try to respond to exhibitions going up at the IMA. We also try to keep our thumb on the cultural pulse. What are some exciting ideas that might have to do to with the world of art, design, or nature (which are the three pillars of the IMA mission)? People make suggestions, we read about things in The New York Times. We also have to fulfill the needs of groups that support the museum, like the Horticultural Society and Contemporary Art Society, and we do things that highlight those realms.

Lindsay:  It’s a lot of balance.  Between exhibition, affiliate groups, and film, as well as adding in things that no one else in the city is doing, we make sure to use our budget the best we can to hit everything.

Anne: Exactly. For example, we’re not going to do a jazz series, because the Jazz Kitchen has taken care of that.  Though we are thinking about doing a Japanese horror film set to a live jazz score. But I will say one of the drivers of programming is all the amazing spaces we have at the IMA, everything from 100 Acres to The Toby to the Maya Lin balcony.

Ok, so saying all of that, what do you see as a void in Indianapolis’s cultural offerings?

Anne:  Well, Indy’s cultural scene  is always in flux, and lately there seems to be more edginess and risk going on, which is great.  We like NoExit, a theatre group we’ve hosted here, because they have responded to the IMA’s spaces. You know, where else can you see maybe a dark and arty movie or a huge kite performance (Lindsay: or a vegetable orchestra).  So we want to surprise people, and that’s a constant effort.  The model is always changing, we aren’t doing as many standard art history talks as we have in the past and we looking for new models to get people excited about new ideas.  It can’t be an old-fashioned lecture anymore…what comes next?

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Filed under: Public Programs


Green Dreams, Well-Designed

Nothing like an ice storm to make you dream green.  It’s hard to fathom the audacity of this amaryllis on our kitchen counter right now:

Fathoming, though, is a big part of sustainability – that’s why we love it at the IMA.  Green thinking demands an experimental spirit, and usually reflects a nod to smart design.  The status quo (pollution, wastefulness, inefficiency) has got to go.

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Filed under: Design, Education, Public Programs


The Perfect Film Noir

Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, writes about the seminal film noir Criss Cross, screening this Friday night at the TOBY as a part of the Winter Nights series:

When people ask me to cite the definitive film noir, I usually say Double Indemnity. That’s the one most people have likely heard of. But these days, I’m more inclined to call Criss Cross the perfect film noir. I’ve seen it several more times in recent years and it improves with each viewing. Its mood of thwarted passion and desperate melancholy only deepens with the passing years.

Criss Cross
was essentially the culmination of the film noir era (roughly 1944-1952), made at the movement’s peak in 1949. It reunited the brain trust from The Killers (1946), one of the films that ignited Hollywood’s fascination with dark, cynical crime stories. The one collaborator missing, unfortunately, was producer Mark Hellinger who died of a heart attack at age 44, just as the project came together. A one-time Broadway newspaper columnist, the brash and ballsy Hellinger had recently scored his biggest success with the groundbreaking police procedural Naked City (1948). He seemed destined for a long career as film noir’s dominant storyteller.

Hellinger was inspired by Don Tracy’s 1934 novel about a daring racetrack robbery, complicated by sexual passions. It was essentially The Killers redux, only better: this time there was no dispassionate protagonist (Edmond O’Brien) to distance the audience from the tale’s maelstrom of lust and longing. Daniel Fuchs fashioned a screenplay that greatly improved upon Tracy’s novel. Michel (Michael) Kraike stepped into the producer’s role and smartly let director Robert Siodmak have free rein. (Although theirs was a successful collaboration, Siodmak and Hellinger often butted heads while making The Killers.)

Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) is an armored car guard who still has it bad for his ex-wife, Anna (Yvonne De Carlo). He’s drawn back to Slims, a nightclub where their passion burned brightest. He discovers that she’s hooking up with Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea), a slick and shady operator. Anna, in fine femme fatale fettle, ignites a fire fight between the two men. When Dundee catches him with Anna, Steve blurts out a cover story: he’s willing to act as the inside man so Dundee can knock over one of his company’s armored cars. Both men stage a cagey mating dance, while setting each other up. Steve plans on swindling Slim, grabbing his cut, and running off with Anna. Slim plans to kill Steve in the heat of the heist.

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Filed under: Film, The Toby


The Embodied Power of Punk-i-fied Barbies

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry,” wrote Emily Dickinson.  Emily’s wham-bang factor applies to the documentary film Marwencol, showing in The Toby on Thursday, December 9.  Here’s a peek:

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Filed under: Film, Public Programs, The Toby


Onion Noise

And carrots and bell peppers and pumpkins and….

I’m here at the Indianapolis International Airport waiting for the 11 members of the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra to arrive.  They perform at The Toby this Saturday night, 7 pm.

Since seeing their picture in a cooking magazine five years ago, I’ve been obsessed with bringing them to perform at IMA.  I love that they take an everyday object like an eggplant and mine it for its expressive sonic properties.  I love that they wear all black and let the colorful veggies create a visual pop.  I love that they treat vegetables as sculptural objects.  I love that their music is experimental.

Here’s a listen to their latest CD, Onionoise. I especially like Brazil.

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Filed under: Public Programs, The Toby


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