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Narrative Feature

Imitation of Life (1959) - Classic Film Selection
USA, 1959, 125 min., Color, English
An aspiring actress befriends a black widow, but trouble arises when the latter is rejected by her daughter, who tries to pass for white. In Coney Island, the widow and aspiring actress Lora Meredith finds her 6-year-old daughter Susie playing with 8-year-old Sarah Jane, daughter of black homeless housekeeper Annie Johnson. Lora brings Annie and her daughter to live in her small apartment in New York and they become close friends. Lora has a love affair with photographer Steve Archer and soon he proposes. But the ambitious Lora dreams on becoming a star on Broadway and prioritizes her career and also neglects Susie. The light-skinned Sarah Jones rejects her mother and tries to pass as white for her friends. Lora succeeds in her career and reaches stardom. Ten years later, she meets Steve by chance and he pays attention to Susie while Lora is shooting a film in Italy. When she returns, she decides to get married with Steve; but Susie has fallen in love with Steve. Meanwhile Sarah Jane runs away from home to work in fleshpots.
— —Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Douglas Sirk
Lana Turner, Sandra Dee, Susan Konner

Director Bio
Film director Douglas Sirk, whose reputation blossomed in the generation after his 1959 retirement from Hollywood filmmaking, was born Hans Detlef Sierck on April 26, 1897, in Hamburg, Germany, to a journalist. Both of his parents were Danish, and the future director would make movies in German, Danish and English. His reputation, which was breathed to life by the French nouvelle vague critiques who developed the "auteur" (author) theory of film criticism, casts him as one of the cinema's great ironists. In his American and European films, his characters perceive their lives quite differently than does the movie audience viewing "them" in a theater. Dealing with love, death and societal constraints, his films often depend on melodrama, particularly the high-suds soap operas he lensed for producer Ross Hunter in the 1950s: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and his last American film, Imitation of Life (1959) (Sirk's favorite American film was the Western Taza, Son of Cochise (1954), which was shot in 3-D).
Lana Turner
Lana Turner was an American actress who worked in film, television, theater, and radio. Over the course of her nearly 50-year career, she achieved fame as both a pin-up model and a dramatic actress as well as for her highly publicized personal life. In the mid-1940s, she was one of the highest-paid women in the United States, and one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's biggest stars, with her films earning the studio over $50 million during her eighteen-year contract with them. She is frequently cited as a popular culture icon of Hollywood glamour.
Sandra Dee
Sandra Dee was an American actress. Dee began her career as a child model, working in commercials before transitioning to film in her teenage years. Best known for her portrayal of ingénues, Dee earned a Golden Globe Award as one of the year's most promising newcomers for her performance in Robert Wise's Until They Sail. She became a teenage star for her subsequent performances in Imitation of Life and Gidget, which made her a household name.
Susan Konner
Susanna "Susan" Kohner is an American retired actress who worked in film and television. She is best known for her role as Sarah Jane in Imitation of Life, for which she was nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe award. She played a light-complexioned woman who "passed" for white as a young adult.