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It's movie time at Mercyhurst

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s final on-screen performances, a shocking documentary about a Pennsylvania juvenile court scandal and an Oscar-laden Marlon Brando classic are among the selections in this fall’s Maria J. Langer Movies at Mercyhurst lineup from the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture.

All films – with the exception of “Fly by Light” on Oct. 26 – will be screened at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoons in Taylor Little Theatre at Mercyhurst University. Movies at Mercyhurst is comprised of the following three series:

The Maria J. Langer Film Series features an array of critically acclaimed independent world movies and documentaries that inspire reflection and conversation with the greater Erie community.

The On Screen/In Person Series will bring independent filmmakers to campus, followed by Q-and-A sessions that give the audience an opportunity to learn more about the passion and creativity behind the filmmaking process.

The Classic Film Series is a great way to see an encore of the films you love on the big screen, shown this year in celebration of their milestone anniversaries. The audience will be taken back in time as selections will be accompanied by clips and cartoons from the film’s original premiere date.

Ticket prices for the Langer and On Screen/In Person Series are $6 for adults; $5 for students/seniors; and $1 for Mercyhurst students (with ID). Classic Film Series tickets are $1 for everyone.

The Fall 2014 lineup is included below. All titles subject to change. For tickets or more information, call 814-824-3000 or visit


The Hand that Feeds, On Screen/In Person, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014

At the original 63rd Street Hot and Crusty café, NYC residents get served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sublegal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma López has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.

Risking deportation and the loss of livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of young organizers to form an independent union. In one rollercoaster year, they must overcome a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers will battle in backroom negotiations, Occupy Wall Street protesters will take over the restaurant, and a picket line will divide the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country. But whatever happens, Mahoma and his compañeros won’t be exploited again.


Kids for Cash, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014

Kids for Cash is a riveting look behind the notorious scandal that rocked the nation when it first came to light in 2009. Beginning in the wake of the shootings at Columbine, a small town in Pennsylvania elected a charismatic judge who was hell-bent on keeping kids in line. Under his reign, more than 3,000 children were ripped from their families and imprisoned for years for crimes as petty as creating a fake MySpace page. When one parent dared to question this harsh brand of justice, it was revealed that the judge had received millions of dollars in payments from the privately-owned juvenile detention centers where the kids – most of them only in their early teens – were incarcerated.

Exposing the hidden scandal behind the headlines, Kids for Cash unfolds like a real-life thriller. Charting the previously untold stories of the masterminds at the center of the scandal, the film reveals a shocking American secret told from the perspectives of the villains, the victims and the unsung heroes who helped uncover the scandal. Now serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison, the former juvenile court judge at the heart of the scandal shares his ulterior motives, revealing that his attorneys never knew about his interviews for this film.




Gloria, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

Gloria is a "woman of a certain age," but still feels young. Though lonely, she makes the best of her situation and fills her nights seeking love at social dance clubs for single adults. Her fragile happiness changes the day she meets Rodolfo. Their intense passion, to which Gloria gives her all, leaves her vacillating between hope and despair – until she uncovers a new strength and realizes that, in her golden years, she can shine brighter than ever. Gloria is Chile's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, and stars Paulina García in a tour de force performance.




A Streetcar Named Desire, Classic Film Series, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014

In the classic play by Tennessee Williams, brought to the screen by Elia Kazan, faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to visit her pregnant sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), in a seedy section of New Orleans. Stella's boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), not only regards Blanche's aristocratic affectations as a royal pain but also thinks she's holding out on inheritance money that rightfully belongs to Stella. On the fringes of sanity, Blanche is trying to forget her checkered past and start life anew. Attracted to Stanley's friend Mitch (Karl Malden), she glosses over the less savory incidents in her past, but she soon discovers that she cannot outrun that past, and the stage is set for her final, brutal confrontation with her brother-in-law.




Rob the Mob, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014

New York City, 1991. Small-time crooks Tommy and Rosie have two things in common: a crazy-passionate love for one another and-after they're caught robbing a florist on Valentine's Day-prison records. Trying to go straight, Rosie lands a job at a debt-collection agency and persuades Tommy to join her. But soon Tommy is skipping his shifts to do something much more interesting-attend the landmark trial of Mafia hit man Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, whose graphic testimony could finally bring down flamboyant Gambino-family boss John Gotti.




Muscle Shoals, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014

Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Rick Hall brought black and white together to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the “Muscle Shoals sound” and The Swampers, the house band at FAME Studios that eventually left to start its own successful studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound. Gregg Allman and others bear witness to Muscle Shoals’ magnetism, mystery and why it remains influential today.



Fly by Light, On Screen/In Person, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014

* Please note: This will be screened in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center

A group of teenagers board a bus for West Virginia, leaving the streets of Washington, D.C., to participate in an ambitious peace education program. For the first time in their lives Mark, Asha, Martha, and Corey play in mountain streams, sing under the stars, and confront the entrenched abuse, violence and neglect cycles of their past. But as they return to DC, each young person faces an unforgiving series of hurdles and roadblocks that challenge their efforts to build a better life. Through breathtaking visuals from street corners to mountaintops, Fly By Light is an intimate exploration of the chaotic, confusing, and emotional journey to rewrite a young person’s future.




A Most Wanted Man, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014

When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest: as the clock ticks down and the stakes rise, the race is on to establish this most wanted man's true identity - oppressed victim or destruction-bent extremist?



The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations, On Screen/In Person, Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014

Through interviews, animation and archival materials, this documentary playfully explores the creation, creators, lasting impact and enduring relevance of one of the most universally beloved children’s books of our time. The film introduces viewers to the hilarious world of 1961’s The Phantom Tollbooth, along with some of the novel’s more serious themes. Discover author Norton Juster’s word play, watch Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Jules Feiffer draw Tollbooth protagonist Milo for the camera, and hear children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle reflect on the creative process. Conceived in Brooklyn during the Cold War 1950s, The Phantom Tollbooth – hailed as “the Alice in Wonderland of our time” –  is about much more than a bored little boy who travels through a tollbooth to the Lands Beyond to rescue princesses named Rhyme and Reason. The film illuminates the book’s deeper themes: the value of learning, the state of children’s literature, the creative journey and the importance of the written word. The book triumphed and has sold nearly 4 million copies to date and been translated into 20 languages.




Frank, Maria J. Langer Film Series, Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014

Acclaimed Irish director Lenny Abrahamson follows up his award-winning films Adam & Paul, Garage, and What Richard Did with an offbeat comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), who finds himself out of his depth when he joins an avant-garde pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender), a musical genius who hides himself inside a large fake head, and his terrifying bandmate Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).