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January 13–19, 2017

Chicago Premiere


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Film still: Ma Film still: Ma


"The combination of surreal tone, strange characters, sun-drenched cinematography, and entirely visual movement-based language creates a heady and spellbinding cinematic experience"
"One of the year's most original debuts... The cinematic medium has seldom felt as free as it does in [director/choreographer] Rowlson-Hall's hands"
  —Chicago Tribune
3 stars½ "[Celia] Rowlson-Hall has indulged herself in Ma, and has created a bold and unique film that has 'personal' written all over it. No one else could have made it. This should be celebrated"
Recommended "[A] limber, challenging delirium"
  —NewCity Chicago

A contemporary, choreographic road movie re-imagining of the Virgin Mary's story, transposed to the scorched landscape of the American Southwest, Ma is a sublime study of gender, motherhood and mythology. It follows a young woman (director and choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall) and her Oldsmobile-driving companion through the desert as they drift together between barren motels, having chance encounters with strange, sometimes hostile characters, on their respective paths out west. Along her journey, Ma struggles with her self-identity, which is compounded when this mysterious conception occurs, as she also faces the challenge to save herself.

Winner of the AFI Fest Breakthrough Audience Award, Ma is Rowlson-Hall's feature debut, after having worked as a choreographer for bands including Sleigh Bells and MGMT, and with directors including Lena Dunham and Gaspar Noé, as well as on numerous short films of her own. Boldly dialogue free, it allows the actors' impeccable and voluminous movement to drive the narrative, such as it is, through the scrupulously composed sound design and luminous cinematography. Proudly feminist, Ma is a visually poetic story for the ages.

Directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall, U. S.A., 2017, 81 mins.


  • Fri., Jan. 13 at 7 & 9 pm
  • Sat., Jan. 14 at 5, 7 & 9 pm
  • Sun., Jan. 15 at 5 & 7 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Jan. 16–19 at 7 & 9 pm
Buy tickets


$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation