Mel Novikoff Award: Annette Insdorf: To Be or Not To Be

Mel Novikoff Award Annette Insdorf fiction film To Be or Not To Be

Saturday, April 14, 2018
1:00 p.m.

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Guests Expected

Honoree Annette Insdorf expected to attend.


The Mel Novikoff Award is given to an individual or institution whose work has enhanced the film-going public’s appreciation of world cinema. For 30 years as an educator, Annette Insdorf has been doing just that. An internationally renowned professor in the Film Program of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, she is the host of the Reel Pieces movie series at New York’s 92nd Street Y, where she’s enlightened audiences and enlivened screenings with hundreds of in-person filmmaker interviews and panels, including such pathbreakers as Meryl Streep, Natalie Portman, and Jeremy Irons. She’s also provided commentary on the Cannes red carpet, organized and moderated panels at the Telluride Film Festival, and is currently hosting two series on FilmStruck. A prolific author, she’s published four scholarly books (Indelible Shadows: Film and Holocaust, Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof KieslowskiFrancois Truffaut, and Philip Kaufman) whose engaging style and approach has taken them far beyond academia. This past year, she even managed to increase the pace of production, with Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes and Intimations: The Cinema of Wojciech Has released in 2017. Join us for this program and conversation with Annette Insdorf, followed by a screening of To Be or Not To Be.

To Be or Not to Be (Ernst Lubitsch, USA 1942, 99 min)
The Nazi blitzkrieg of Warsaw provides the backdrop for the exploits of a band of Polish actors that never stops “performing”—whether to the thunder of applause or bombs. Occupying center stage are Jack Benny as the vain, hammy, and jealous Josef Tura, and Carole Lombard as his clever, luminous, and less-than-faithful wife, Maria. Lubitsch translates painful events into a timeless meditation on ego, vulnerability, role-playing, and the need for humor.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Ernst Lubitsch (1892-1947) began his career in his native Germany, but found his greatest success in Hollywood. Among his notable works are The Love Parade (1929), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Design for Living (1933), Ninotchka (1939), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), and Heaven Can Wait (1943). When Lubitsch died at 55, it is said that as Billy Wilder was leaving the funeral, he remarked, “No more Lubitsch,” to which fellow auteur William Wyler replied, “Worse than that – no more Lubitsch films.”

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Year: 1942
  • Running time: 150
  • Director(s): Ernst Lubitsch
  • Producer(s): Ernst Lubitsch
  • Writer(s): Edwin Justus Mayer
  • Cinematographer(s): Rudolph Maté
  • Editor(s): Dorothy Spencer
  • Music: Werner R. Heymann
  • With: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack

Print Source: 

Westchester Films