The Reel Queens: ‘Dirt!’ to join stone masterpieces at Noguchi Museum

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The museum, located at 9−01 33rd Rd. in Long Island City, will show “Dirt! The Movie,” a feature−length environmental documentary on soil, from its social, economic and political impact as well as its degradation, on Sunday at 3 p.m.

The movie, which is narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, was inspired by “Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth,” a series of essays on the history of soil and its connection to humans that was written by Brooklyn’s William Bryant Logan.

“Noguchi had an interest in nature,” said Peter Scibetta, operations supervisor at the museum. “We want to show things that are unusual and bring in a crowd we might not normally get. It’s nice to encourage people to see films like this.”

Logan, who is both an author and arborist, owns a Red Hook, Brooklyn−based company, Urban Arborists, which cares for shrubs and trees in the five boroughs. The group has helped to maintain the trees at the Noguchi Museum for the past seven years.

The author will take questions on his book and the film following the screening.

“The point of the book and the movie is that this material we scarcely think of is a living creature,” Logan said. “The filmmakers called me years ago out of the clear blue and told me they were making a movie out of my book. It took six years to make.”

The film, which had sold−out screenings at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and is now available on DVD, is made up of interviews, vignettes and animated sequences.

Logan, who wrote the book in the mid−1990s, said the film fits in with Noguchi’s work because he demonstrated both command and respect for nature.

“I love Nocuchi’s work because of his understanding of the textures of stone,” Logan said. “He was an astonishingly good user of natural materials.”

Jenny Dixon, director of the Noguchi, said the screening is part of a public program that the museum hosts every second Sunday of the month, which often includes a scholarly lecture, music in the garden, a poetry reading or a film.

The film, directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow, will be free with museum admission, which is $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and students with valid ID. All children under the age of 12 will get in free.

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese−American artist and landscape architect whose career spanned from the 1920s through the late 1980s. He also worked with several other designers in 1948 on a catalog that is considered to be among the most influential body of work in modern furniture.

The museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Its collection, which has been reinstalled in accordance with Noguchi’s original concept for the display of his work, will be on view through Oct. 24.

On March 21, the museum will collaborate with Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image on a children’s program that will include a cartoon and a short film by Buster Keaton as well as art−making activities. The event will run from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Queens moviegoers will also not want to miss the 11th annual Havana Film Festival, which will be held at various sites throughout the five boroughs.

The festival, which will run from April 16−23, will include screenings of more than 40 films at the Queens Theatre in the Park, Manhattan’s Quad Cinema, the Bronx Museum of the Arts and several other locales.

The April 16 opening night film will be 2008’s “Los Dioses Rotos,” which was Cuba’s official submission for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

For more information film schedules, visit hffny.com.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.

Updated 5:53 pm, October 10, 2011
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