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Britain, late-1970s. Punk is exploding. The country is deeply divided over immigration with the National Front, a far-right political party, gaining strength. Outraged by this xenophobic agenda and a racist speech from Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders teams up with like-minded creatives to form Rock Against Racism. Focusing on issues that the mainstream British media ignores, the RAR zine challenges the status quo and sparks a grassroots youth movement that The Clash, Steel Pulse and other top punk bands jump on board. NR / 80 min.
Charlie Chaplin was already an international star when he decided to break out of the short-film format and make his first full-length feature. The Kid doesn’t merely show Chaplin at a turning point, when he proved that he was a serious film director—it remains an expressive masterwork of silent cinema. In it, he stars as his lovable Tramp character, this time raising an orphan (a remarkable young Jackie Coogan) he has rescued from the streets. Chaplin and Coogan make a miraculous pair in this nimble marriage of sentiment and slapstick, a film that is, as its opening title card states, “a picture with a smile—and perhaps, a tear.” NR / 68 min.
In his controversial masterpiece The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin offers both a cutting caricature of Adolf Hitler and a sly tweaking of his own comic persona. Chaplin, in his first pure talkie, brings his sublime physicality to two roles: the cruel yet clownish “Tomainian” dictator and the kindly Jewish barber who is mistaken for him. Featuring Jack Oakie and Paulette Goddard in stellar supporting turns, The Great Dictator, boldly going after the fascist leader before the U.S.’s official entry into World War II, is an audacious amalgam of politics and slapstick that culminates in Chaplin’s famously impassioned speech. NR / 125 min.