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Mar 6, 2009 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM

Ivan Passer’s Way

Ivan Passer Film Retrospective, MoMA, March 6-13, 11 West 53rd Street

Ivan Passer’s Way
March 6-13
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street



Already admired for his screenwriting contributions to some of the most celebrated films of the famed Czech New Wave (including Loves of a Blonde and The Firemen’s Ball, cowritten with director Milos Forman), Ivan Passer’s major contribution to the movement came in 1965 with his astonishing directorial debut, Intimate Lighting. The film’s lightness and casual elegance veils a trenchant, sensitive portrait of friendship and provincial life; shot through with compassion, humanity, and a keen sense of the absurd, it perfectly expresses the tone and rhythms of real life. Intimate Lighting exemplifies Passer’s remarkable ability to capture atmosphere and to craft detailed psychological portraits.

After immigrating to the U.S., Passer attempted to retain his unique vision by shooting two films in New York, a city that reminded him of home. Those films, Born to Win and Law and Disorder (both of which Passer also cowrote) display his characteristic gifts: capturing human foibles, unveiling the tragicomic nature of group interactions, and celebrating the ins and outs of close friendships. Friendship is also at the core of the unclassifiable but masterful Cutter’s Way, an early high point of Passer’s American career. Something of a misunderstood sensation upon its 1981 release, the film’s reputation has subsequently been rehabilitated thanks to its unique vision.

Organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, MoMA and supported by the Czech Center, New York. Grateful thanks to Criterion/Janus Films; Swank; and Irena Kovářová.




Fádní odpoledne (A Boring Af ternoon), 1964

A short film about all the things that happen when, ostensibly, nothing

is happening. In Czech; English subtitles. 20 min.

Intimní osvětlení (Intimate Lighting), 1965

Directed by Ivan Passer. Written by Passer, Jaroslav Papoušek, Václav Šašek.

With Zonek Bazušek, Karel Blažek, Věra Křesadlová, Jaroslav Středa. Two

friends meet again after several years and reconnect over a night of drinking

through their shared passion for music. This extraordinary portrait is as personal as a home movie and as penetrating as an X-ray. Every gesture and musical cue is intimate and effortlessly laden with history and meaning; every movement and action reveals the details of provincial living and the heartache of diminished expectations and broken dreams.
New print. In Czech; English subtitles. 71 min.

Friday, March 6, 6:00 (introduced by Passer)

Saturday, March 7, 2:00

Sunday, March 8, 4:00

Monday, March 9, 5:00

Wednesday, March 11, 8:30

Thursday, March 12, 6:00



Cutter’s Way, 1981

USA. Directed by Ivan Passer. With Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn. This devastating neo-noir has it all: sleek design, a stripped-down narrative, a Santa Barbara locale that mixes dark alleys and glittery lawn parties, and, above all, the most complex, conflicted characters of any post-Vietnam movie. The two leads portray a pair of very different, though equally damaged, men who are neither morally righteous nor outright criminal. Bridges’s commitment-phobic Bone gets by as a part-time gigolo – not exactly an upright citizen – but he’s nothing compared to Heard’s Cutter, a one-eyed veteran turned mad avenger. The shifting emotional complexity of their lifelong friendship is pushed into the realm of hallucinatory nightmare when a murder is committed. 109 min.

Friday, March 6, 8:00 (introduced by Passer)

Sunday, March 8, 6:00



Born to Win, 1971

USA. Directed by Ivan Passer.

With George Segal, Karen Black, Paula Prentiss, Robert De Niro.

Passer’s first American film, a gritty, hard-boiled tale about a junkie, was shot on the mean streets of New York City. Segal gives a nuanced performance as JJ, a charming heroin addict who drags his girlfriend (Black) into his desperate quest for a daily fix. Anticipating the dingy atmosphere of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), Passer evocatively captures the hallucinatory, sordid beauty of 1970s Times Square. 100 min.

Saturday, March 7, 4:00

Friday, March 13, 8:00



Law and Disorder, 1974

USA. Directed by Ivan Passer.

With Ernest Borgnine, Carroll O’Connor, Karen Black. When police

fail to respond to the influx of criminals and perverts into Borgnine

and O’Connor’s working-class neighborhood, the two men take

matters into their own hands. But instead of making the streets safer,

their shoestring militia of bumbling, incompetent husbands – like

modern-day Keystone Kops – only makes them crazier. Featuring vibrant

location photography, Passer’s second American film is an insightful

look into the social politics of 1970s New York City. 106 min.

Sunday, March 8, 1:30

Friday, March 13, 6:00



Golden Sixties, 2009

Czech Republic. Directed by Martin Šulík.

This insightful and revelatory documentary portrait of Passer is part of a just-finished project by the producer čestmír Kopecký to depict all the major figures of the Czech New Wave while they can still participate. The twenty-six portraits completed to date include Miloš Forman, Dušan Hanák, Věra Chytilová, Jiří Menzel, and Jan Švankmajer.

In Czech; English subtitles. 53 min.

Sunday, March 8, 6:30

Wednesday, March 11, 4:30



Info about tickets: www.moma.org


Discount for members of the Czech Center Club.


Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street
NY 10021 New York
United States


Mar 6, 2009 12:00 AM - 12:00 AM


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