Doha Film Institute

Watching the Classics

- Doha Film Institute

Richard Peña / USA, Qatar / 2022 / 120 min / Unknown / Unknown / In English / (No Subtitles) subtitles
Themes :


Watching the Classics – ‘Making Movies Modern’
A monthly lecture series with Professor Richard Peña

Doha Film Institute is delighted to present ‘Watching the Classics’, an online programme where filmmakers and cinephiles can deepen their knowledge of film history. Presented by renowned scholar Richard Peña—Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of the New York Film Festival—this series of lectures/discussions each focuses on an undisputed world cinema classic.

In the monthly sessions, Professor Peña will present a given film within its aesthetic, economic, technological and social/political context, detailing each director’s formal techniques while teasing out the implications of these artistic and technical decisions.

To get the most from the programme, participants are recommended to view the selected films before each session, and all are readily available through various popular streaming services.

During the lecture, select images and clips will be included for discussion, and participants will be able to send Professor Peña questions, which will be addressed at the end of each session.

Join us for this chance to revisit some of your favourite films—or to discover works that have helped change the course of film history.

‘Making Movies Modern’
Lecture Series Introduction by Professor Richard Peña

By the late 1950s, the cinematic models and approaches that had largely defined movies all over the world began to break down. New generations of filmmakers took advantage of changes in technology to bring their films in closer dialogue with the physical world; meanwhile, the depiction of interior, mental states become more pronounced and intense. The impact of major changes in other media—from painting to dance to novels—inspired filmmakers to find new ways that broke with the confines of traditional three-act story-telling style. By 1960, all of these developments came together and burst into a series of “new waves” in France, Poland, Japan, Italy, Brazil and several other nations; the impact of new wave style could eventually even be seen in Hollywood.

This nine-part series, ‘Making Movies Modern’, will explore this cinematic revolution, analyzing some of its major trends and tendencies as well as offering discussions of some of its most emblematic works. Among the artists whose works will be discussed are Luis Buñuel, Jean-Luc Godard, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Each session will also include a detailed analysis of that week’s selected film.

The sessions will take place on the last Monday of every month. The films to be featured will be announced at the beginning of the month.

The first session takes place on 1 May 2023 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (Doha Time).


Session 1: ‘The Exterminating Angel’ by Luis Buñuel

A group of sophisticated, wealthy Mexicans gather for a post-concert dinner, but then discover they just can’t seem to leave. A key figure of the 1920s surrealist cinema, Luis Buñuel maintained his loyalty to the movement as he moved to Mexico and commercial cinema—a crucial link between the early modernist cinema of the 1920s and its 1960s evolution.

Director: Luis Buñuel
Mexico / 1962

Session 2: ‘My Life to Live’ by Jean-Luc Godard
29 May 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

‘My Life to Live’
Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless’ (1960) was one of the major warning shots that announced the new, bold modernist cinema. Here, in his fifth film, Godard offers a cool, perceptive look—divided into chapters that are all stylistically distinct—at a woman’s dramatic downfall from her life as a housewife and mother.

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
France / 1962

Session 3: ‘Eclipse’ by Michelangelo Antonioni
19 June 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

Michelangelo Antonioni boasted that he “took the bicycle out of neorealism”. Set among newly rich 30-somethings in Rome, the film follows Vittoria (the great Monica Vitti) as she attempts to learn the rules of a world in which nothing is certain, and nothing is as it appears.

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy / 1962

Session 4: ‘Machorka-Muff’ and ‘Not Reconciled’ by Jean-Marie Straub
31 July 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

‘Machorka-Muff’ and ‘Not Reconciled’
Escaping from the draft for the French war in Algeria, Jean-Marie Straub (together with his artistic and life partner Danièle Huillet) moved to Germany, where they became part of a burgeoning avant-garde film scene. Their first two films, both based on works by novelist Heinrich Böll, Straub distils each story down their essences, translating their narratives into a series of gestures and fragments. In the short ‘Machorka-Muff’, the dedication of a new military academy brings together a cast of characters steeped in their memories and feelings of guilt over the war. Based on Böll’s ‘Billiards at Half-past Nine’, ‘Not Reconciled’ follows the fortunes of a single German family from 1900 until 1950, but rather than follow events consecutively—Straub presents them simultaneously, capturing patterns of behaviour followed blindly despite their frequently devastating consequences. Straub offers dense reconstructions of each story, redefining the use of flashbacks so essential in modernist film practice.

Director: Jean-Marie Straub
‘Machorka-Muff’ / Germany / 1963 | ‘Not Reconciled’ / Germany / 1965

Session 5: ‘Memories of Underdevelopment’ by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
28 August 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

‘Memories of Underdevelopment’
Born of the 1959 Revolution, Cuban cinema was actually born into modernism, with an aesthetic built upon the desire to question the form and style of classical cinema linked to earlier forms of oppression. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea follows an upper-class individual too critical to follow the rest of his class to Miami, yet too uncertain to fully commit to the changes sweeping Cuba in the wake of Fidel Castro’s victory.

Director: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea
Cuba / 1968

Session 6: ‘Father’ by István Szabó
25 September 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

Freeing themselves from the shackles of Stalinism and its “socialist realist” aesthetic, the emerging cinemas of Eastern Europe ventured into new and exciting cinematic approaches to offer new visions of their countries and their histories. István Szabó follows Takó, a young man trying to discover the truth about his father against the tumultuous background of postwar Hungary.

Director: István Szabó
Hungary / 1966

Session 7: ‘Branded to Kill’ by Seijun Suzuki
30 October 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

‘Branded to Kill’
Japan had one of the longest and most widespread of all new waves, ranging from politically militant avant-garde works to bizarrely stylized genre films. Seijun Suzuki practically invented this second category—through a barrage of unexpected digressions and confusing constructions of space and time, we follow the Number #2 Contract Killer as he tries to defeat the Number #1.

Director: Seijun Suzuki
Japan / 1967

Session 8: ‘Point Blank’ by John Boorman
27 November 2023 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

‘Point Blank’
The impact of modernist style can be seen in the work of various Hollywood filmmakers, but nowhere more powerfully than in John Boorman’s dream-like account of a newly freed criminal’s attempt to settle the score with those who set him up. Walker (an amazing Lee Marvin) seems to continually move from memory to fantasy to an increasingly grim reality.

Director: John Boorman
USA / 1967

Session 9: ‘Mirror’ by Andrei Tarkovsky
15 January 2024 / 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM (Doha Time, GMT+3)

Weaving historical incidents with personal, at times autobiographical reflections, Andrei Tarkovsky creates a monumental meditation on life in a country whose inhabitants have lost faith in its claims and actions. Yet beyond the critique of Soviet life and politics is a deeply moving depiction of simply being in the modern world, a harshly material world increasingly distant from any notion of the spiritual.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
USSR / 1975

Language: English

Lecture Fee - 70 QAR
Qatar Museum’s Culture Pass Discount (20%) – 56 QAR

This programme is open to applicants over the age of 18. The sessions are best suited for those with some knowledge of filmmaking and who wish to expand their understanding of film history.

Registration Process:
• To register and secure your place, purchase a ticket online to this event from above session links.
• Your registration will be confirmed once your payment is processed.
• You will receive all necessary webinar links via email reminders before the sessions.


Richard Peña

Richard Peña was the Programme Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival from 1988 until 2012. At the Film Society, Peña organised retrospectives of many film artists, as well as major film series devoted to numerous national cinemas. Together with Unifrance, in 1995, he created Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, the leading American showcase for new French cinema. He is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University, where he specialises in film theory and international cinema and has served as a Visiting Professor at the Sorbonne, Beijing University, UNAM-Mexico City and the University of São Paulo. He also currently hosts WNET/Channel 13’s weekly ‘Reel 13’.