The best cinema, like great literature, is about people, according to Academy-award-winning director Michael Cimino, who spoke at the Modern Theatre following a screening of his film Year of the Dragon.

“You never fail to be surprised by what comes out of your subconscious,” said the director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate.

February is movie month at the Modern, and Cimino’s appearance capped off a series of screenings of his work.

He sat down with author James Carroll, a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Suffolk University, to discuss his films and answer questions from the audience.

Cimino, who studied painting at Yale and never attended film school, focused on how film concepts come to him.

“I don’t make movies because of ideas. I make movies about people,” he said. “You’re always surprised by the journey you take with the characters.”

The Modern Theatre film series also features:

A Dennis Lehane retrospective, with an appearance by the author and screenwriter on Feb. 17
"Digital Medium: New Aesthetics of the Moving Image," a lecture by Vlada Petric, founding curator of the Harvard Film Archive, on Feb. 24

A program of Russian short films was shown on Feb. 8.