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Experience 1940s Culture At Bridgeport Museum Of Art's Film Exhibit

Award-winning filmmaker Martin West and M. Dante attended the opening reception of "Rendezvous In Black" at the Housatonic Museum of Art. Photo Credit: contributed
Film noir expert Richard Edwards presented the exhibition and discussed the dark and edgy film style that emerged in the early 1940s. Photo Credit: contributed
Ann Chernow. Rendezvous in Black: "From the moment they met, it was murder!" 2012. Lithograph printed on Canson paper. 7 3/4 by 10 7/16 (sheet 11 by 13 7/8). Edition 20, #4. Noir series. Photo Credit: contributed
Cindy Sherman. Untitled Film Still #7. 1978. Gelatin silver print. 10 by 8 inches; 25.4 by 20.3 cm.Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures Photo Credit: contributed

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Many art lovers and film buffs turned out recently for the opening reception of "Rendezvous In Black," a new exhibit at the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport.

Approximately 100 people, including artists, arts and culture enthusiasts, film aficionados and members of the community came on Thursday evening, Nov. 10, to immerse themselves in a film noir experience, complete with Cindy Sherman photographs, Ann Chernow lithographs and a noir movie viewing.

Film noir expert Richard Edwards presented the exhibition and shared the history of the 1940s film genre; he discussed why the exhibition pieces by Sherman and Chernow are stunning examples of the style.

“It’s as if you are wandering among a lost film archive, but these films have never existed,” said Edwards. “The images that surround us are powerful images of powerful women. They are dangerous, in a good way. Film noir expanded the role of women – prior to the genre, women were portrayed as wives and mothers, but now we have a new role: the femme fatale.”

Museum Executive Director Robbin Zella expressed her thoughts on the exhibition.

“Both artists mine the noir genre, calling on the viewer to analyze the narrative of each scene,” she said. “The exhibition is replete with dark figures in doorways and ambiguous images of women responsible only to themselves; it’s very powerful.”

In Sherman's images, the photographer is her own subject. This groundbreaking series expanded the definition of portraiture, as each image presents Sherman in different roles and personas, according to a release from the Housatonic Museum of Art.

Chernow’s lithographs embrace the characters and contexts of classic film noir, creating tense moments that are dark, mysterious, risky and all together contemporary, the release said.

“This is one of the brightest and most polished exhibitions of film noir I’ve ever seen,” said M. Dante who drove up from Philadelphia to attend the opening. “Having the film playing as a part of the show is an essential component to the discussion of film noir;  it creates a visceral connection to the subject.”

The exhibition runs through Friday, Dec.16. The museum is also presenting a series of film noir masterpieces to accompany the exhibition.

"In a Lonely Place" by director Nicholas Ray starring Humphrey Bogart will be shown on Thursday at 7 p.m. "Out of the Past," directed by Jacques Tourneur featuring Robert Mitchum, will be screened on Saturday at noon, and "Christmas Holiday" by director Robert Siodmak starring Gene Kelly and Deanna Durbin will be shown on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

All movies will be shown in the Burt Chernow Galleries at 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport.

For additional information about the exhibition or the screenings, call the museum at (203)-332-5052 or visit its website.

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