Bernardo Rondeau, the museum’s senior director of film programs, says the idea came from receiving a lot of recommendations and feedback across the board from its members. “We were trying to figure out a way that we could harness this amazing knowledge and passion for cinema into a program; into a series. The fairest way to do it would be to do what we ended up calling ‘Branch Selects,’” explains Rondeau.
Each branch will select three titles, with one screening each week. “Battleship Potemkin” was the first film to screen at the beginning of the year, and was chosen by the film editors branch. On Tuesday night, the 1941 Orson Welles classic “Citizen Kane,” will screen, chosen by the visual effects branch. Other films coming up are “The Graduate,” “101 Dalmatians,” “King Kong” and “Bonnie and Clyde.”
Each week, the series highlights a movie — presented chronologically from silent cinema to contemporary films — that represents a major achievement in the evolution of cinema and its unique crafts. Says Rondeau, “We try to select three titles that are representative of a key breakthrough in the evolution of their craft, or that are exemplary works for their craft.”
Rondeau works with branch task forces, with whom he gets to brainstorm. Part of that brainstorming resulted in members of said branch talking about why that film means a lot to that branch. Craig Barron will introduce “Citizen Kane.” Barron, Rondeau says, is the perfect candidate to introduce the film, bringing his knowledge as a historian in the world of movie effects. “After you learn about Craig, you also learn how ‘Citizen Kane’ is filled with visual effects, and you wouldn’t even notice it. That’s the genius of it, and all of those collaborators contributed so successfully to Orson’s vision,” Rondeau explains.
The presentation aspect is something the museum hopes audiences will lean into — not only to celebrate excellence on film, but to learn unique stories about cinema that they may or may not have already heard.
As for the rest of the series and upcoming films, Rondeau says the ’70s will look at independent films, but once it hits the ’80s, “We start blossoming out to include more documentary works, more foreign language work and animation comes back in a big way.”
Learn more about “Branch Selects” here.