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Retrospective of New Queer Cinema pioneer Gregg Araki opens at Museum of Arts and Design
Nowhere, 1997. Photo: Courtesy of Warner Brothers

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Arts and Design presents the first American retrospective of New Queer Cinema cult auteur Gregg Araki this fall from September 19 through October 26. God Help Me: Gregg Araki surveys the director's career thus far, with 9 films selected by Araki himself, including his rare early work Three Bewildered People in the Night (1987), the never-aired MTV pilot This is How the World Ends (2000) and the complete Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. MAD will also host a rare master class with the director on September 28.

"Araki is a pioneer of American '90s independent cinema. He's a filmmaker whose distinct voice and intelligent perspective on youth and queer culture have influenced so many others. His work plays with genres and narrative tropes, breaking from traditional structures, while addressing serious issues in culture. I hope that this retrospective will give audiences a rare opportunity to see all of Araki's work, and introduce him to a new generation," says Jake Yuzna, MAD's Director of Public Programs.

Widely regarded as one of the key directors of 'New Queer Cinema'—alongside figures such as Todd Haynes, Derek Jarman, Isaac Julien, Tom Kalin and Jennie Livingston—Araki came to prominence in 1992 with The Living End, a raw and intense road movie that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that year. The film follows a drifter and a film critic, both gay and HIV positive, as they embark on a road trip and crime spree across America. Exploring the anger and alienation triggered by an HIV positive diagnosis, the film was described as simultaneously honest, humorous and heart-rending in the exploration of its lead characters' plight.

Araki further cemented his status as cult filmmaker with Totally F****ed Up (1993), The Doom Generation (1995), and Nowhere (1997), known together as the "Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy." Navigating adolescent transformation, alternative models for sexuality and love, alien visitors, and the effects of HIV/AIDS on Generation X, Gregg Araki blended and parodied influential cinematic genres from the coming-of-age to road trip to science fiction, to craft a body of groundbreaking films that continue to reverberate today.

The series also gives the public a chance to discover Araki's first film, Three Bewildered People in the Night (1987), shot guerilla-style in black and white with a spring-wound Bolex camera and a budget of only $5000, as well as the pilot for a never-realized TV miniseries This is How the World Ends (2000). Araki showed equal ease and gained wider mainstream recognition with a more traditional narrative in Mysterious Skin (2004), which explores the long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse on the trajectories of two young men. In 2010, Araki switched back to his signature style with the comedic and wildly libidinous dystopian sci-fi film Kaboom, which won the first ever Queer Palm at that year's Cannes Film Festival. Taking audiences on a turbulent and thrilling ride through celebrity mania, doomsdays, sexual awakenings, neo-Nazis, and teenage wastelands, Araki's daring cinematic voice has crafted a complex pop portrait of adolescent America as it transitioned into a new millennium.

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