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20,000 Years in Sing Sing + Manhattan Melodrama + discussion
Institute of Contemporary Arts
In black and white - a blonde white woman embraces a white man as he leaves a prison cell
20,000 Years in Sing Sing, dir. Michael Curtiz, USA 1932, English, 81 min.

In this second event in the series, Schtinter is joined in conversation by filmmaker and novelist Chris Petit to discuss the themes of liberty and decline, following a double-bill screening of the pre-Code Hollywood films, 20,000 Years in Sing Sing and Manhattan Melodrama.

American career-criminal John Dillinger was murdered in a panic of police bullets as he left the Biograph Theater in Chicago, having just watched his favourite actor Clark Gable (Fassbinder’s favourite actor too), in Manhattan Melodrama. Fassbinder was found lifeless by his editor Juliane Lorenz, having just watched 20,000 Years in Sing Sing in bed. Though officially unconnected, both films celebrate protagonists bound by the same fate: the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.
Chris Petit has been described by Le Monde as the Robespierre of English cinema. His films include Content, Radio On, and The Falconer. His books: Robinson, The Hard Shoulder and Ghost Country.

Stanley Schtinter has been described as an ‘artist’ by the Daily Mail, as an ‘exorcist’ by the Daily Star. Recent projects include The Lock-In, a 96-hour film consisting solely of indoor pub footage from the British soap opera Eastenders, and Important Books (or, Manifestos Read by Children).

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