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Steven Spieberg on the set of "Duel"
Steven Spieberg on the set of "Duel"

This Month at the Packard Campus — August 2023

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First Time Directors

Everyone has to start somewhere.  This month we celebrate the first works of ten titans of cinema!  Each one of these filmmakers went on to direct an Oscar-winning film as well as films that are on the Library’s National Film Registry.  In some cases, their first film is their best work, others merely showcase a bit of the greatness to follow.  But all the films presented are unique experiences in their own right.  With luck, these will inspire you; as “On the Town” director Stanley Donen once said, “What we all like in life, I think, is the challenge of making something… that is not easy to do.”

Color portraits of all film stars on 1945 film poster
“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3 @ 7:30 p.m.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (20th Century-Fox, 1945) – Directed by Elia Kazan

The tale of an Irish-American family living in 1912 New York City. Dorothy McGuire and Joan Blondell head the cast, and James Dunn won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor.  Kazan went on to direct A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront and Splendor in the Grass. Black & White, 129 minutes. Added to the National Film Registry in 2010.

Three leading couples of the film depicted
“On the Town” (1949)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4 @ 7:30 p.m.

“On The Town” (M-G-M, 1949) – Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen

“The Bronx is up but The Battery’s down.”  Geography lesson aside, this is the MGM musical at its best. Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, with Jules Munshin, are three sailors on leave and “on the town.” The town?  New York, New York.  Kelly and Donen would next direct the classic Singin’ in the Rain.  Individually, Kelly later directed Hello Dolly and Donen would direct Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Two for the Road and Charade. On the Town was added to the National Film Registry in 2018. Color, 98 minutes.

Red image of Hillary Swank walking on highway
“Boys Don’t Cry” (1999)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 10 @ 7:30 p.m.

“Boys Don’t Cry” (20th Century-Fox, 1999) – Directed by Kimberly Pierce

Hillary Swank won the first of her two Best Actress Oscars starring as the real-life Brandon Teena, a young female-to-male transgendered person, who leaves his hometown under threat when his ex-girlfriend’s brother discovers that he’s biologically female. Kimberly Pierce went on to direct the remake of Carrie and currently works in episodic television. Added to the National Film Registry in 2019. Black & White, 81, minutes.

Lurid illustration of a woman crawling out of swamp.
“Dementia 13” (1963)


“Dementia 13” (M-G-M, 1963) – Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

The untimely death of her husband, and the desire to be sole benefactor of his will, causes a young woman to try and deceive his family. Roger Corman produced this film with $40,000 left over from another production. Coppola is best known for directing The Godfather and its sequels as well as The Conversation and Apocalypse Now. Black & White, 81 minutes.

Purple-tinted film poster of man holding and aiming rifle.
“Targets” (1968)

“Targets” (Paramount, 1968) – Directed by Peter Bogdanovich

An old horror film actor announces his retirement but first agrees to one last personal appearance at a drive-in movie theater. Always on the cheap, producer Roger Corman made this film because actor Boris Karloff still owed him two days of work!  Peter Bogdanovich, a renowned film critic at the time, would soon go on to direct such classics as The Last Picture Show, What’s Up Doc, and Paper Moon.  Rated R. Color, 90 minutes.

Edward James Olmos, in character, for film stands in front of chalkboard
“Stand & Deliver” (1988)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17 @ 7:30 p.m.

“Stand and Deliver”  (Warner Bros, 1988) – Directed by Ramón Menéndez.

A math teacher helps change the lives of a group of East L.A. students.  They learn how to excel in the classroom and outside of it.  Edward James Olmos was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the teacher.  Menéndez also directed Money for Nothing and wrote Tortilla Soup. Added to the National Film Registry in 2011.  Color, 102 minutes.

Against background image of asphalt, the words "Blood Simple" are spelled out
“Blood Simple” (1984)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18 @ 7:30 p.m.

“Blood Simple”  (Circle, 1984) – Directed by the Coen Brothers

A casual tryst between a bartender and his boss’s wife leads to trouble.  Much, much trouble in this with this razor-sharp, hard-boiled neo-noir set somewhere in Texas, where a sleazy bar owner releases a torrent of violence with just one murderous thought.  Starring, in her film debut, the future three-time Best Actress Oscar winner Frances McDormand. Joel and Ethan Coen went on to direct Raising Arizona, O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, and Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men. Rated R. Color, 96 minutes.

Purple-ish image of lead actors partially obscured by while image of tree
“The Learning Tree” (1969)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24 @ 7:30 p.m.

“The Learning Tree”  (Warner Bros – Seven Arts, 1969)) – Directed by Gordon Parks

A group of African-American boys grow up in 1920s Kansas. With this tender and clear-eyed coming-of-age odyssey, the renowned photographer turned filmmaker Gordon Parks not only became the first Black American director to make a Hollywood studio film, he also served as writer, producer, and composer, resulting in a deeply personal artistic achievement.  Gordon Parks would later go onto direct the iconic film Shaft and its first sequel Shaft’s Big Score. Color, 107 minutes. Added to the National Film Registry in 2011.

Dennis Weaver in black and white photo with red lettering
“Duel” (1971)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 25 @ 7:30 p.m.

“Duel”  Universal, 1971) – Directed by Steven Spielberg

A salesman driving home in a small car innocently passes a large and monstrous tanker truck.  What follows is a battle between the two drivers, their vehicles and the open road.  Dennis Weaver stars and the screenplay is from the legendary Richard Matheson (The Twilight Zone).  Spielberg would soon direct a certain film about a small boat and a big shark named… Jaws. He also, of course, directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, etc.. Color, 90 minutes.

Illustration of major characters from comedy film
“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24 @ 7:30 p.m.

“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (Universal, 1982) – Directed by Amy Heckerling.

A who’s who of future film stars (Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forrest Whitaker, Phoebe Cates, etc.) star as a group of Southern California high school students who are “studying” their most important subjects:  sex, drugs, football, rock ‘n’ roll and pizza (sometimes having it delivered to them in the middle of a class).  The verbal swashbuckling between Sean Penn’s surfer “Spicoli” and Ray Walston’s history teacher “Mr. Hand” is something to behold!  Heckerling also directed National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Look Who’s Talking  and Clueless. Rated R. Color, 92 minutes. Added to the National Film Registry in 2011.


Please note:  Due to necessary electrical maintenance to the NAVCC facility, the film screening schedule for the next few months will be altered. The Packard Campus Theater will be screening films on Thursday and Friday nights only. Programs are free and the matinee shows will be family friendly. Children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Seating at the screenings is on a first-come, first-served basis unless otherwise noted.

Wearing face masks is recommended as the theater is open to 100% capacity. Patrons must go through an “airport style” security check, and no large parcels, purses or backpacks are permitted.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. 930) prohibits the possession of any firearm or other dangerous weapon into this Federal facility.  This includes in the parking lot, all roads, trails, and grounds as well as the building. This also applies to off-duty law enforcement officers (LEO) and concealed-carry permit holders.

The Packard Campus is located at 19053 Mount Pony Road in Culpeper, Virginia. Access to the campus parking lot begins one hour before show time; entrance into the building begins 45 minutes before the show, and the theater opens for seating 30 minutes before the curtain. Please do not arrive early and queue at the Packard Campus gate.

The Library of Congress Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center oversees one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift and purchase, the Collection spans the entire history of the cinema. Since 2008, the art deco theater located at the Packard Campus has shown films each week and screened more than 2,500 titles. The programs will again highlight the best in cinema, including silent films, Hollywood classics, kids’ cartoons and foreign films.


For more information on LC screenings, see this link.


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