BAMPFA’s ‘Watch From Home’ series celebrates independent cinema from a distance

Illustration of a person peacefully sitting on a couch, eating popcorn, and watching TV
Armaan Mumtaz/Staff

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The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, is one of many artistic institutions temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. But even though the public can’t physically visit the art museum while sheltering in place, the desire for unconventional, exciting cinema still persists. 

BAMPFA’s ongoing “Watch From Home” series hopes to meet this need, in addition to supporting the work of filmmakers and the art museum itself. The series consists of newly released films from BAMPFA’s streaming partners, available to purchase for at-home viewing. The selection displays the unique range that museumgoers and fans of independent film have come to expect from the art museum’s curators. Viewers can find everything from “Spaceship Earth” and “What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael” — documentaries that follow disruptors in the fields of environmental activism and film criticism — to Jules Dassin’s 1955 “Rififi,” a precursor to the contemporary heist film.

The “Watch From Home” series inspires a valuable dialogue about independent cinema beyond the confines of museum doors. Here, The Daily Californian arts staff contributes to the conversation, reviewing a portion of the available films.

— Grace Orriss

‘Spaceship Earth’ is optimistic portrayal of environmental activism

“Spaceship Earth” — a documentary following a group of countercultural entrepreneurs and their eccentric leader —  feels in some ways like an anti-“Tiger King.”

— Olive Grimes

‘What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael’ is tribute to legendary film critic

“What She Said” strikes a balance between discussing Kael’s ability to either empower or destroy a movie.

— Maya Thompson

‘Rififi’ is essential viewing for heist movie fans

The film shines not only as a compelling thriller but also as a documentary-like study of human fallibility.

— Vincent Tran

‘Band of Outsiders’ is cinematic emblem of French New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard

Along with all of Godard’s work in the 1960s, the film became a paradigm of the French New Wave style for its innovative style and romantic air.

— Kate Tinney

Patricio Guzmán’s ‘The Cordillera of Dreams’ pays homage to Chilean mountainscape

“The Cordillera of Dreams” focuses on the mountainscape, or cordillera, of the Andes and the way that it has impacted and defined life in the surrounding areas.

— Kate Tinney