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Arts Festival Pays Homage to Noir

In 1946, a French critic used the word noir to describe the popular movies of the past decade. These films depicted an ominous world of gangsters, private eyes and femme fatales with questionable morals and stylized emotion. Since then, the cinematic style has influenced other forms of art from fashion design to fiction.

Through Friday, April 8, The New School celebrates the various incarnations of noir with its first "The New School Art Festival Presents: Noir." Events include screenings of classic films, a visual art exhibit, poetry readings and presentations by renowned guest artists and critics including Francis McDormand, Mary Gaitskill and Griel Marcus, among others. Here are highlights from this week's free events:

Blood Simple at the Tishman Auditorium This 1984 American neo-noir crime film was Joel and Ethan Coen’s directional debut. The plot involves a Texas bar owner’s mission to kill his cheating wife and her new man. Horror ensues. Francis McDormand and John Getz star.  Hirshon Festival Director-in-Residence Guy Maddin and film and culture writer Kim Morgan introduce the film. On Monday, at 8 P.M.

"The Femme Fatale" at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center Who can forget Miss Ruth Wonderly (a.k.a. Brigid O'Shaughnessy) killing Sam Spade's No. 2 in The Maltese Falcon? Or Phyllis Dietrichson trying to get Walter Neff to murder her husband in Double Indemnity? Tuesday night's talk will address the femme fatales in film noir of the '40s and '50s and beyond. On Tuesday, at 6 P.M.

John Webster’s "The White Devil" at the Tishman Auditorium Webster's 1612 tragedy was a flop when it was first performed. But how will a Jacobean Count Lodovico do with a steampunk aesthetic? You be the judge during this one-hour performance of the play. On Wednesday, at 4 P.M.

"Noir Now" at the Theresa Lang Community and Student Center Writer-critic Greil Marcus, director Todd Haynes, and writer Jon Raymond discuss the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce. The series is based on the 1941 novel by James M. Cain in which a middle-class housewife attempts to maintain her and her family's social position during the Great Depression in California. Kate Winslet stars. On Thursday, at 9:30 P.M.

Fargo and conversation with Frances McDormand at the Tishman Auditorium Everyone’s favorite Fargo character, Academy Award-winning actress Frances McDormand, talks about acting and instigating--how actors collaborate with and inspire writer-directors. She’ll describe her process of creating the character of Marge Gunderson in this Coen brothers' film, and talk a bit about her current role as Margie in David Lindsay Abaire's Good People on Broadway. On Friday, at 2 P.M. Free, but reserve seats here.Francis McDormand