Year in Film: Culture High

Young guns of the local rep scene

Goldstein:I’ve also noticed that people have expectations for [what belongs at Film Forum]. That’s fine, but I don’t want to be so inflexible. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have shown a film from 1980, but now I would.

LESS IS MORE

Jed Rapfogel, film programmer, Anthology Film Archives: We pride ourselves on never showing things specifically to draw a large audience. We’ll put something on the calendar and expect nobody to show up, and more often than not, it’ll surprise us. That’s our market identity, I guess. People respond to it.

Thomas Beard, founder and director, Light Industry:Growth can be a presupposed ideal for a not-for-profit organization. It’s something we actively question. Something that people like about Light Industry is that it maintains a human scale. I wouldn’t want it to be larger than what we along with interns can accomplish.

Ed Halter, founder and director, Light Industry: Just like an experimental filmmaker might not say, “I have to go up to the next level and make a feature with a crew.” We realized that’s the aesthetic we’re going for. Rarefied is what we want. Our purpose is not to serve a large audience in that way, the way that most cinemas do. We do one show a week—that’s it.

Steve Holmgren, programmer, UnionDocs: We can seat 45 people, and it never seems like more than a living room.

Aaron Hillis, programmer, reRun Gastropub Theater and Voice contributor: There are great films out on the festival circuit that aren’t being released, maybe films without a movie star or an easy hook. 60 seats gives me the freedom to take that risk. It’s easier to fill a one-screen intimate little theater tucked inside a bar than it is to try to pack Film Forum. It’s a little unorthodox here. It’s a movie theater, and it’s not a movie theater.

Lampert: I also think there’s something to be said for not showing great movies—where “great” isn’t the key determining factor. We have programs where different film collectors come and show medical films. It’s not even avant-garde. Just another territory.

Rapfogel: A lot of places have achieved this thing where people go to “get some culture.” God knows we want people to come here. But we want it to be about the work.

Cristina Cacioppo, film programmer, 92YTribeca: I want it to have a family feeling, because then it’s communal and these people come to support one another, and that’s been a part of building the feeling of the place. For sing-alongs, I’ll even ask the audience what they want to see. And I’ll have people write titles. It’s like, “OK, if you want this, we’ll try it.”

REELING THEM IN

David Schwartz, chief curator, Museum of the Moving Image:These days, a programmer has to put together an experience. You need to have great prints; the architecture of the room has to be great. It needs to be an immersive and social experience.

Scott Foundas, associate program director, Film Society of Lincoln Center:Now it seems that people are more inclined to go to the cinema if there’s some kind of enhanced viewing experience—IMAX, 3-D, etc. In our small way, we’re trying to think of a way to show old movies that have an enhanced component.

Goldstein: I brought back [horror huckster] William Castle, The Tingler. Everyone took part in it. There were a couple of ushers that played victims. It’s theater. We can’t just show movies. There’s too much competition.

Foundas:There’s something to be said about the context in which you show films. Whether it’s having someone to talk about the film, or the filmmaker in person—which is very hard to replicate on your iPad.

Harris Dew, director of programs and promotions, IFC Center: Not to get too [Walter] Benjamin, but it’s nice to make it not so chemically reproduced once in a while.

DIGITAL DIVIDE

Livia Bloom, guest curator, Maysles Cinema: It’s really nice to be able to use what’s unique about each venue to its advantage. You could say that Maysles Cinema only has video projection, only has 50 seats, but that’s an advantage for a lot of reasons. There are a lot of films that are only available digitally, and look better on that screen and in that setting.

Hillis: Oftentimes, bartenders serve as projectionists here. But at the same time, we’re state-of-the-art. And I’ll go toe-to-toe and say that if I play a Blu-ray on my 12-foot screen, it’s going to look better than half the movie houses in New York, playing on a bigger screen. Even multiplexes show things digitally—you’re not losing the magic of cinema.

Halter:We don’t show 35mm. But that puts us even stronger in the cinematheque tradition of video, 16mm, Super 8, and performance. There’s something about the intimacy of the space that serves that kind of work.

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