Our guide to film series and special screenings happening this weekend and in the week ahead. All our movie reviews are at nytimes.com/reviews/movies.
CITY SYMPHONIES at Anthology Film Archives (Jan. 11-March 10). A central idea of this program is that cinema’s growth as a medium in the 1920s and ’30s coincided with the expansion of modern cities, giving rise to a loose-knit genre known as the “city symphony,” in which the sights and rhythms of a metropolis dictated form. Some screenings are organized by city (a New York compilation, showing on Sunday and Jan. 20, leads with off with Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler’s “Manhatta”). Other films are grouped by concept (two “Thoroughfares and Neighborhoods” programs, spanning multiple cities, screen on Sunday and Jan. 21).
1ST IRANIAN FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK at IFC Center (through Jan. 15). This new festival showcases recent Iranian features like “Pig” (showing on Friday) from Mani Haghighi, whose “Men at Work” was a standout at Tribeca in 2006, and pays tribute to the great director Abbas Kiarostami, who died in 2016. A documentary on Kiarostami screens on Sunday with a short he directed.
FIRST LOOK 2019 at the Museum of the Moving Image (Jan. 11-21). The museum’s annual series is really less of a first look than a look back (to under-heralded titles that screened on the past year’s festival circuit) and a look to new horizons (many films here are likely too experimental or niche to turn up in New York again soon). The opening weekend offers a double dose of the acclaimed Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, who will appear with the bleakly absurdist fiction feature “Donbass” (on Friday), a narrative relay set in that war-torn, Russia-bordering region of Ukraine, and with “The Trial” (on Saturday), a document of real people confessing to fictional crimes. Loznitsa pieced together the film from footage of a Stalinist show trial from 1930. As the movie proceeds, the subjects performing their confessions appear to become more emotional, more “genuine.”
KAY FRANCIS: THE QUEEN OF PLEASURE at the Metrograph (Jan. 11-Feb. 3). If you only know Francis as the perfume heiress from “Trouble in Paradise” (on Sunday and Jan. 18-20), this retrospective offers a snapshot of her charms in the period when she rose to stardom, unencumbered by the imposed gentility of the Production Code. It’s rare to see high-quality versions of these titles by directors such as George Cukor, Leo McCarey and King Vidor. Cukor’s 1931 comedy “Girls About Town” (on Friday, Saturday and Thursday) finds Francis and Lilyan Tashman seeking wealthy male accompaniment, with Francis targeting Joel McCrea.
NEW YORK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (through Jan. 22). Much of the lineup here — like “Autonomies” (on Wednesday), a dystopian mini-series that depicts an Israel divided between a religious Jerusalem and a secular Tel Aviv — concerns Jewish identity in the 21st century. But some of the most noteworthy films go back nearly a century. In E. A. Dupont’s “The Ancient Law” (on Sunday), a 1923 silent screening in a superb restoration, a rabbi’s son leaves the beautifully portrayed ghetto lifestyle to pursue acting. Originally shown in 1924, “The City Without Jews” (on Jan. 20), an Austrian expressionist feature, indicts anti-Semitism by satirically imagining the expulsion of the Jews from Austrian society; in retrospect, it is seen as prescient of the Holocaust.
PICTURES OF POLITE SOCIETY: HENRY JAMES AT THE MOVIES at the Quad Cinema (Jan. 11-24). The author’s devotion to capturing interiority in prose might make his writing seem ill suited for film, but his novels have served as a consistent basis for a wide array of movies. Some, like Jacques Rivette’s wondrous “Céline and Julie Go Boating” (showing on Saturday and Jan. 19-20), can claim only loose inspiration from James. But even many of the straight adaptations (Jane Campion’s “The Portrait of a Lady,” on Friday, Sunday and Jan. 21) have eccentricities that upend costume drama conventions.
TO SAVE AND PROJECT: THE 16TH MOMA INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF FILM PRESERVATION at the Museum of Modern Art (through Jan. 31). Last year, MoMA unveiled its restoration of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1923 “Rosita” — a major rediscovery by any standard — for the first time in New York. This year, the museum furthers the trend with a restored version of Lubitsch’s sublime “Forbidden Paradise” (on Friday and Tuesday), a witty and knowing 1924 costume picture starring an irresistible Pola Negri as the hedonistic queen of a small Eastern European nation. She sets her eyes on an army lieutenant (Rod La Rocque) who merely wishes to save her from revolution. Other highlights of the museum’s preservation festival include the New York premiere of a restoration of Horace B. Jenkins’s “Cane River” (on Jan. 18 and 31) — a 1982 independent feature that dealt forthrightly with colorism and other issues of race but has scarcely been seen since — and an appearance by the artist Peggy Ahwesh (on Monday), who will locate the progressive streak in the pioneering nudie films of Doris Wishman at a screening of Wishman’s topless-aliens odyssey, “Nude on the Moon.”
For an overview of January and February’s cultural events, click here.