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Jon Vickers
Indiana University Cinema

Last modified: Monday, August 29, 2011

Indie filmmaker John Sayles to make appearances at IU Cinema as highlight of 2011-12 season

Hear a podcast with John Sayles from Indiana Public Media

Aug. 29, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Independent filmmaker and two-time Oscar nominee John Sayles will deliver a lecture, answer questions and introduce screenings of three of his films at Indiana University's IU Cinema Sept. 8-9.

John Sayles


John Sayles

Print-Quality Photo

Sayles' visit is one of the highlights of the IU Cinema's 2011-2012 season.

The new season contains an array of contemporary and classic indie and international films, children's programming, films from IU's extensive archival collections and visits from some of today's top filmmakers, screenwriters and directors.

Known as one of the "godfathers" of the U.S. independent film movement, the director of Lone Star (1996), Eight Men Out (1988) and most recently, Amigo (2010), among many others, Sayles will deliver a Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker lecture at 3 p.m. Sept. 9. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Sayles' lecture, co-sponsored by the Poynter Center for the Study of Ethics and American Institutions, is titled "Thinking in Pictures" and will cover Sayles' hands-on filmmaking techniques and ability to tell the stories he wants to tell on his own terms. Sayles will also meet with IU students during his visit. The screening of Amigo is part of IU's fall 2011 Themester programming, "Making War, Making Peace," co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Being independent of the studio system, John Sayles has had the freedom to make whatever statements that he wants in his films," said Jon Vickers, director of IU Cinema. "He's not afraid to challenge political systems and social mores. He also thoroughly researches his subject matter, as well as the geographical locations of his stories, always bringing an authenticity to the finished product."

Sayles films to be screened at IU Cinema

The following three films are free, ticketed events, at which filmmaker John Sayles is scheduled to be present. Tickets can be picked up at the IU Auditorium box office during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in the lobby 30 minutes prior to each screening.

Amigo (2011, Rated R, 128 minutes), Thursday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m.

In Amigo, Sayles examines the forgotten history of the Philippine-American War. When the rural village of Rafael Dacanay (played by Joel Torre) is occupied by American troops hunting for Filipino guerillas, he comes under pressure to collaborate with both the blood-and-guts Colonel Hardacre (Chris Cooper) and the head of the local guerillas, his brother Simon (Ronnie Lazaro). Dacanay must make the near-impossible, potentially deadly decisions faced by civilians in an occupied country.

Matewan (1987, Rated R, 128 minutes), Friday, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Based on true events, Matewan tells the tale of a coal workers' strike and unionization attempt in a small town in West Virginia in 1920. When the company announces a lower pay rate, a strike is called by United Mine worker Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper). The miners are joined by Italian and black coal workers, and the battles between the company and miners lead to violence -- and ultimately, tragedy. This 35mm preservation print (courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archive) is considered one of Sayles' masterpieces.

Brother From Another Planet (1984, Rated R, 104 minutes), Friday, Sept. 9 at 9:30 p.m.

In this sci-fi comedy, The Brother (Joe Morton) arrives on planet Earth as an escaped alien slave on the run from two white Men in Black (David Strathaim and John Sayles) who are also aliens. The Brother is mute and telekinetic, with only three toes on each foot. As he struggles to express himself and find a way to fit in, Sayles uses the character's alien status to provide insight into society, prejudice and the concept of "outsider" in America. This 35mm print was borrowed from the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Additionally, his films Honeydripper (2007) and Lone Star (1996) will be screened on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. respectively, without the director's presence.

About John Sayles

John Sayles likes to be known as a storyteller. Amigo is his 17th film, all of which he has also written, and most of which he has edited. He writes fiction and has published several novels and collections of short stories. His book about the making of Matewan, "Thinking in Pictures" is taught in film classes and has never been out of print. His new novel, A Moment in the Sun, set around 1900, substantially in the Philippines, was published by McSweeney's in May 2011, and has gone into its second printing. Sayles supports his directing career as a "writer for hire" in Hollywood. Though his work is often un-credited, he recently wrote and received credit on The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). Currently, he is writing about KGB assassins, the Tasmanian penal colony, the Rosenberg spy case, the plot to bring water to Los Angeles, and the singer- songwriters Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. He directed three music videos for Bruce Springsteen: "Born in the USA," "I'm on Fire" and "Glory Days."

For more information about the IU Cinema, see the IU Cinema website at and the 2011-2012 season brochure at