Virtual Cinema

Watch New Release films and support your local nonprofit, the Des Moines Film Society.


Now Playing:



Through November 4


A profile of the American Ballet Theatre, an important classical ballet company, the film presents the company in rehearsal in their New York studio and on tour in Athens and Copenhagen. Choreographers, ballet masters and mistresses are shown at work with principal dancers, soloists and the corps de ballet. Other sequences involve the administration and fundraising aspects of the company, all presented in director Frederick Wiseman’s trademark observational style.


Rental of “Ballet” will come with an exclusive conversation between Wiseman and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of “Free Solo.”


“Martin Eden”

Through October 29


Adapted from a 1909 novel by Jack London, yet set in an unspecified moment in Italy’s history, “Martin Eden” is an enthralling narrative fresco in the tradition of the great Italian classics. Martin (played by the marvelously committed Luca Marinelli) is a self-taught proletarian with artistic aspirations who hopes that his dreams of becoming a writer will help him rise above his station and marry a wealthy young university student (Jessica Cressy). The dissatisfactions of working-class toil and bourgeois success lead to political awakening and destructive anxiety in this enveloping, superbly mounted story. Winner of the Best Actor prize at the Venice Film Festival.


Coming Soon:


“Wednesdays with Wiseman”


Starting Wednesday, October 21, the Varsity Virtual Cinema will be participating in “Wednesdays with Wiseman,” a streaming series celebrating the work of legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman. Each week, a Wiseman classic will become available, along with an exclusive pre-recorded conversation between Wiseman and other documentary filmmakers. The series will culminate with the streaming premiere of Wiseman’s new film “City Hall.”


The series’ featured films (and dates) are:

  • “Ballet” (1995) + conversation with Wiseman and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (“Free Solo”) — October 21
  • “Sinai Field Mission” (1978) + conversation with Wiseman and Errol Morris (“The Thin Blue Line”) — October 28
  • “Hospital” (1970) + conversation with Wiseman and Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (“Jesus Camp”) — November 4