UCLA PRESENTS THE BEST in arts and culture, community events, sports and entertainment. From film screenings to tasting events, December is full of exciting experiences and holiday magic. For more UCLA events, visit community.ucla.edu.
DECEMBER 1 | 7 P.M.–10 P.M.
Join us for an evening of holiday festivities at this month’s First Thursday event! Tie on a pair of skates for a spin around the skating rink, and don’t forget to wear your favorite ugly sweater for a chance to win a special giveaway. Begin the day at the Westwood Village Farmer’s Market, where the UCLA Volunteer Center’s Winter Wishlist Campaign is accepting donations of pantry items and household maintenance supplies. In partnership with Depaul USA Casa Milagrosa, all donations will go directly to those experiencing homelessness to gift them a hope-filled season.
DECEMBER 4 | 2 P.M.
Grab your tickets and show your support as the Bruins, led by honorary captain Ben Howland, go against the Oregon Ducks in this afternoon game. With food trucks including Baby’s Burgers and Go Fusion N Grill, and a halftime performance by American Idol’s Spyros Brothers, it will be a jam-packed day of sports, food and entertainment (especially when we win).
DECEMBER 4 | 7 P.M.
In an evocative and genre-bending display of cellist Seth Parker Woods’ versatility, Difficult Grace is a multimedia concert tour de force. Woods’ triple role as narrator, cellist and movement artist is heightened by the kaleidoscopic integration of film, spoken text, dance and visual artwork, creating both a visual and sonic masterpiece. These different facets work together, drawing inspiration from everything from the Great Migration to the poetry of Amiri Baraka and Dudley Randall.
DECEMBER 5 | 7:30 P.M.
As her 40th birthday approaches, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Kreps) is thrown into turmoil as she anticipates being considered an old woman. Faced with a future of strict ceremony and royal duties, she rebels against her public image and devises a plan to protect her legacy. Copresented by the Hammer Museum at UCLA and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, this screening is part of the MoMA Contenders film series — a compilation of the most influential, innovative films of the last 12 months. Tickets and details are available on the Hammer’s website.
DECEMBER 6 | 7:30 P.M.
A smash hit at the box office, Everything Everywhere All at Once imagines no cultural barrier and total freedom in the multiverse, where everyone belongs and anything goes. A Chinese American laundromat owner is thrust into the multiverse amid tax-filing mayhem, marital crisis and domestic meltdown. Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert channel Stephen Chow and Michel Gondry to whip up a wild mix of absurdist comedy, martial arts, sci-fi and adventure. Forget about logic, reason or timeline and allow yourself to freefall into pure sensory and cognitive overload. Michelle Yeoh, who soars to yet another career high as the central character in multiple manifestations, is joined by the equally brilliant Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, and Stephanie Hsu in a stellar ensemble.
DECEMBER 7 | 7:30 P.M.
From director Darren Aronofsky comes The Whale, the story of a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. A conversation with actors Brendan Fraser and Ty Simpkins and writer Samuel D. Hunter will follow the screening.
DECEMBER 8 | 7:30 P.M.
Motherhood and sacrifice: the two have long been thought inseparable, but what if the sacrifice is of one’s own child, whether out of noble vengefulness (Medea), the agony of a worse fate (slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved), or perhaps for reasons that can never be fathomed. Director Alice Diop brings the tenderness and acuity of her documentaries We and The Death of Danton to bear on her first fiction feature, in which a young Senegalese woman is put on trial in the small French town of Saint Omer for the murder of her baby daughter. A tense courtroom drama and a work of great psychological complexity, Saint Omer follows a novelist covering the case who finds her assumptions about race, class, culture and motive torn asunder, her character loosely based on Marguerite Duras, who in 1985 wrote a notorious essay “Sublime, Necessarily Sublime, Christine V” that wrongly imagined the mother of a murdered boy, 4-year-old Gregory Villemin, as the culprit. Starring Kayije Kagame and Guslagie Malanda.
DECEMBER 9 | 7:30 P.M., DECEMBER 11 | 7 P.M.
Enjoy a weekend of film screenings featuring radical filmmaker and UCLA alumnus Robert Cohen’s greatest contributions to the documentary genre. Cohen’s body of work constitutes a counter-history to the dominant Cold War narrative, reflecting Cohen’s extensive political career, as well as his affinity for telling stories not otherwise told. With films including Mondo Hollywood and Inside Red China, experience a time capsule of documentary genius alongside Robert Cohen ’52, M.A. ’54, who will be present as a special guest at these screenings. Seats may be reserved online at no cost.
DECEMBER 10 | 11 A.M.
Calling all young artists! Hammer Kids is presenting young creatives with a hands-on opportunity to design and create their own zines. Inspired by the Hammer exhibition Joan Didion: What She Means and led by teaching artists from L.A. Zine Fest, this drop-in workshop is a wonderful celebration of art’s impact across generations. Free; not ticketed.
DECEMBER 11 | 3 P.M.
Discover the artistry behind the exhibit! Join this Hammer event to hear acclaimed writer and exhibit curator Hilton Als discuss his approach to crafting Joan Didion: What She Means. With the show itself only steps away, experience both the collection and the story behind its curation.
DECEMBER 12 | 7:30 P.M.
Surprisingly or not, Robert Downey Jr., one of Hollywood’s A-list actors — a voice of the world-weary, drug-addled Gen X in the 1980s (Less than Zero) turned Marvel superhero (Iron Man) — is descended from underground movie royalty. It was from his father, Robert Downey Sr. (Putney Swope, Pound, Greaser’s Palace), and to a significant extent his actress mother, Elsie Downey, that Robert Jr. learned the craft of no-budget moviemaking, of improvisation both on screen and off, and of a certain reckless and sometimes immensely rewarding kind of creative abandon. Directed with uncommon sensitivity and acuity by Chris Smith (American Job, The Pool, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond), this freewheeling portrait of Robert Downey Sr. features hilarious and revealing anecdotes of the highs and lows of 1960s and 1970s counterculture — and of growing up within it. Features interviews with Paul Thomas Anderson, Alan Arkin, Norman Lear and more.
DECEMBER 13 | 3 P.M.–5 P.M. PST
You’re invited: Join UCLA Chancellor Gene Block in Washington, D.C., for a special alumni reception followed by a fireside chat with Ann Carlson, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The evening promises a stirring celebration of Bruin pride as Chancellor Block shares updates from a momentous fall quarter where UCLA welcomed one of the most diverse and talented incoming classes in UCLA history. The conversation will also include a look to the future, exploring the challenges and opportunities that UCLA faces as it navigates beyond the pandemic.
DECEMBER 13 | 7:30 P.M.
Join the Hammer for an advance screening of Sarah Polley’s new film, Women Talking, followed by a conversation with featured actress Claire Foy, best known for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in the first seasons of Netflix’s The Crown. Based on the bestselling novel by Miriam Toews, Women Talking follows a group of women in a Mennonite colony struggling to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men.
DECEMBER 14 | 7:30 P.M.
Maren (Taylor Russell), a teenager who survives by eating human flesh, has spent her life roving from town to town with her father. As soon as she turns 18 (and bites a girl from school), her father abandons her, leading Maren to finally search for her mother who left when she was a small child. Along her journey, Maren encounters Lee (Timothée Chalamet), who shares her affliction, sparking the flame of first love and first true kinship. Masterful performances by the young leads and supporting cast (Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg) are captured by Arseni Khachaturan's stunning cinematography, set against the promise and terror of American landscapes. Director Luca Gudagnino crafts a textured balance of the goriness of his Suspiria (2018) and the tenderness of Call Me by Your Name (2017), resulting in a singular tale of love on the margins. Based on the novel by Camille DeAngelis. A conversation with actress Taylor Russell and screenwriter David Kajganich will follow the screening.
DECEMBER 15 | 7:30 P.M.
In-person intro by director Guillermo del Toro.
“From my many wanderings on this Earth, I had so much to say about imperfect fathers and imperfect sons,” begins Sebastian J. Cricket, chronicler of the life of the wooden boy, Pinocchio. Directors Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson transport Carlo Collodi’s 1883 book to Fascist-era Italy in del Toro’s first stop-motion-animated feature film. While Collodi — and the many, many subsequent retellings of the classic story — focus on the obedience of children, del Toro celebrates righteous disobedience, chosen family and what it means to be truly alive. Brought to life by Wood Sprite to heal a grieving Geppetto, Pinocchio navigates the exploitative worlds of the military and the entertainment industry as he tries to find out what it means to be a good son. Though del Toro and Gustafson take a naturalistic approach to their handmade animation, the fantastical creatures Pinocchio meets along the way wrap the film in an aura of otherworldly magic. An international production that spanned from Portland, Oregon, to Guadalajara and Manchester, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a sweeping love letter to — and a towering achievement in — the craft of stop-motion animation.
DECEMBER 17 | 2 P.M.
Bring your friends and your school spirit to cheer on the Bruins as they play against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners in this afternoon game. Enjoy a little competition of your own and try your hand at the halftime Teddy Bear Toss for the chance to win a grand prize.