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Talk About the Passion: Stephen Cone’s First Act

Nov 3 — Nov 12, 2017

Barely a decade into making movies, Chicago-based writer-director Stephen Cone has established himself as one of the most distinctive and accomplished filmmakers working today. In his eight features and numerous short films, Cone has dexterously explored, and sometimes exploded the borders between comedy and drama, community and the self, faith and sexuality, sincerity and performance. As a writer, he imbues his characters with humanity and respect, and as a director oriented toward collaboration and improvisation, he approaches his actors the same way. “Stephen Cone is a humanist; he can’t help but perceive that every person, even those we might write off as ‘types,’ has complexity,” wrote Roger Ebert.

Raised in the south by churchgoing parents—his father became a pastor when he was in grade school—Cone eventually settled in Chicago, where he teaches at Northwestern University. Drawing on Chicago’s legendarily deep bench of working actors, he populates his films with diversely talented performers who are nevertheless mostly unknown to national audiences stuck on a diet of New York– and Los Angeles–based faces. And the characters they play are just as revelatory, dotting the spectrum from self-possessed young people to self-challenging older people, sincere believers to curious non-believers, gays and straights and bisexuals and those uncertain or defiantly undefined, and every one of them still in the process of questioning themselves and the meaning of it all. Talk About the Passion is an early career retrospective of Cone’s work, highlighting features such as Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party and The Wise Kids, all preceded by selections of the director’s shorter work. The centerpiece of the series is Cone’s newest film, Princess Cyd, which receives its New York theatrical premiere at the Museum.

Organized by Associate Curator of Film Eric Hynes

Special Offer: Ticketholders for Princess Cyd are welcome to a complimentary ticket to another Stephen Cone film on the same day. Please request the additional ticket upon arrival at the admissions desk. Tickets will be distributed first come, first served.

Past Films in Series