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The Future of the Film Forum

Dear Friends and Patrons,

If you have come to the Forum to see a film this fall, you know that our movie attendance is down, pretty significantly. Overall, our attendance has steadily declined since Bow Tie opened.

The purpose of this letter is not to criticize another theater; it is to let you know how we intend to address our current situation. The film business is changing and consolidating. Very few theaters have a single screen any more; more and more, film distributors require “open-ended” engagements for popular films. In other words, you can’t book many newer films if you’re not willing to run them indefinitely.

Saratoga Film Forum runs a pretty lean organization. But our primary expenses – theater rental, movie rental and projection – are such that we don’t break even until about 135 people see a film each weekend (over three screenings). That’s a minimum of 45 people each and every screening on our typical Thursday, Friday, Sunday schedule. This fall, we tried some expanded screenings: two showings on some nights, some Saturday events. That gave us some boost, but not nearly enough. If you have come to films this fall, or last spring, you know we are not reaching those levels.

This does not mean that we are giving up; our entire board believes there is an important spot for independent cinema in our region, with curated films, speakers and special events. That is why we are going to take a hiatus for a few months from business-as-usual. The hiatus will allow us to schedule meetings and discussions with community members – both frequent patrons, and those who rarely come. It will allow our board to generate new options and ideas and test them out. Finally, we intend to hold special events at least monthly.  We also have a newly convened Documentary committee, and that committee is looking at new options and formats.

We understand that those of you who bought memberships may be particularly concerned. If you are a member at any level, we will “pause” your membership and re-start it when we have a clearer path. If you bought a membership this fall, and want a refund, we will do that. Above all, we hope to maintain the trust and respect of our community as we evaluate our options.

If you are interested in getting involved in re-shaping our future, please contact me at filmforumboard@gmail.com. I welcome your involvement and ideas.

Sincerely,

Carol Maxwell, Saratoga Film Forum Board President

The Last Scream You Hear May Be Your Own….

This Week At A Glance:

They’re here…. ”The Shining” PLUS “Nosferatu” (the original), plus Winter Schedule Change

1 Question Mini-Survey: My favorite night to go the movies is….

Coming Soon:    ”Sunshine Superman” next week, The Experimenter 11/12 – 15

Tickets:  $8 ($6 for members and students with ID)

 

This Week at Saratoga Film Forum

They’re here…. Scary movies that is.  Since Halloween is on Saturday this year, we decided to go full-bore scary.  We offered 5 choices and ran an audience poll.  The winner is………………THE SHINING, the 1980 film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, with Jack Nicholson playing the lead role, that has left a lasting impression on American culture. Don’t miss it – much better than watching it on a DVD! Thursday and Friday at 7:30 pm. Wear your costume, and we’ll treat you to a free candy.  

The runner up film didn’t get as many votes, but it was a very strong second. So….we decided to show that one too!  On Sunday, at 3 pm, we will screen Nosferatu (the original 1922 version).  According to Wikipedia: “The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, a few prints of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema. As of 2015, it is Rotten Tomatoes‘ second best-reviewed horror film of all time.”   By the way, by the time those prints were released, it was the late 20′s, and silent film was dying a quick death. So this brilliant film never really got the audience it deserved.

1 Question Mini-Survey:  What is YOUR favorite night to go to the movies?

please vote – we want at least 200 responses.  TO VOTE, email your choice to:  FILMFORUMSURVEYS@GMAIL.COM

 

Coming Soon

Next Week:  ”Sunshine Superman”

Have you ever heard of base jumping?  It’s an Extreme Sport – perhaps the first, in a category that is growing. Sunshine Superman tells the story of the sports Founder, Carl Boenish (rhymes with Danish).  As the reviewer at the Detroit news puts it: you may find Sunshine Superman exhilarating, or you may find it terrifying, but you almost surely will not find it boring. Bring a friend or two. This movie will be great fodder for a post-film discussion.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/entertainment/movies/2015/07/23/movie-review-tom-long-sunshine-superman-follows-base-jumping-pioneer/30595769/

11/12 – 15:  ”The Experimenter”

Just released 10 days ago, this film is a NY Times “Critics Pick”.  Read on…

In “Experimenter,” an aesthetically and intellectually playful portrait of the social psychologist Stanley Milgram, the director, Michael Almereyda, turns a biopic into a mind game. It’s an appropriate take on a figure who’s best remembered for his experiments in which subjects delivered punishing electric shocks on command. Working in the shadow of the Holocaust, and shortly after the capture of the SS official Adolf Eichmann, Milgram (1933-1984) was interested in questions of authority, conformity and conscience. “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders,” Milgram asked. “Could we call them all accomplices?” Exerpt from  NY Times Review

Check out the trailer here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1VOZhwRvWo

 

Last But Not Least:

Find our weekly updates on our blog, on the website:  www.saratogafilmforum.org.

Saratoga Film Forum has a suggestion box!  Have a suggestion about a film you’d like to see? A special event? The customer experience? Try our new suggestion box, in the theater.

We are a membership organization! Want to learn more? We have a variety of membership options, to meet your needs. Visit our webpage to learn more, and become a member. Memberships also make wonderful holiday and birthday gifts.

What’s Happening this Week: October 19 – 25, 2015

This Week At A Glance:  the raucous documentary “Best of Enemies”

Coming Soon:    Halloween Weekend: The Votes are In. Read more to find out the contest result

This Week at Saratoga Film Forum

First of all, this is our last weekend of Sunday 7:30 screenings. Beginning November 1st, we will switch to 3 pm screenings on Sunday.  (Some people love this, other’s don’t. All we can say is that during the winter, our box office does better with the earlier time, and vice versa in the warm, “bright” months.)

Our movie this week is….Best Of Enemies. Documentaries are rarely “raucous” but this one truly deserves that description. It details a series of four debates during the 1968 election cycle between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. If you’re under 50, you probably don’t know who they are. But in mid-century America, they were very famous, and notorious, in their own ways.  Here’s how the NY Times describes them:

“Buckley and Vidal were remarkable characters, at once bona fide intellectuals, true-blue aristocrats and knowing caricatures of those very types. Each one had, earlier in the decade, run a losing campaign for elective office in New York State: Vidal earnestly sought a congressional seat in the Hudson Valley in 1960; Buckley staged a lively protest candidacy in the New York City mayoral election of 1965. They were scions of powerful, privileged families, prep school graduates (Vidal never went to college), military veterans and tirelessly entrepreneurial men of letters happy to dabble in mass media when it suited their needs. They also genuinely and sincerely hated each others guts.”

They were also extremely famous. Back in the day, when news was dominated by broadcast networks, ABC was dead last in the ratings. the 1968 election was dominated by extreme cultural ambivalence about a protracted war, changing social mores, and uncertainty about America’s position in the world.  Sound familiar?

This very highly rated documentary is entertaining and informative. We screen it on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday at 7:30.  Don’t miss it!

BTW, here is a link to the entire NY Times review, if you want to read it: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/movies/review-best-of-enemies-recalls-gore-vidal-and-william-f-buckley-jrs-tv-battles.html?_r=0

Tickets are $8 ($6 for members)

Coming Soon:  

Halloween – the holiday.  Thanks to all who voted in our Halloween film survey. Well, the votes are in and they were quite strong. The film that beat the others by a landslide was The Shining. So as promised, we will screen that film on Thursday and Friday, 10/29 & 30 (7:30 pm). However, there was one very strong second place film: Nosferatu. We were surprised. But it is a very cool film: Filmed in 1922, considered a Masterpiece, this new Blu Ray has a digitally remastered version of the original musical score, plus a short documentary about the filmmaker. So…given it’s very strong results, plus the extras, we decided to screen it on Sunday afternoon at 3 pm.

(By the way, here is a clip from Turner Classic Movies’ description of Nosferatu:  ”One of the most foreboding and influential horror films in the history of cinema, F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) was almost kept from the screen when the widow of Bram Stoker, Florence, sued the German producers for unauthorized use of her husband’s novel, Dracula. The lawsuit over Nosferatu has haunted the film’s history. Wanting to distance themselves from the film, the producers of Nosferatu sold it to Deutsche Film Produktion who edited the film without Murnau’s consent. The film was then altered further for its 1929 American release, making the search for the “original,” “uncut” Nosferatu a film historian’s obsession.”

So…by the time they finally released the film in America, the original film was not recognizable and talkies were taken over. Come revel in something that audiences of that day never got to see…)

Housekeeping:   We have a suggestion box, plus suggestion slips. They will be in the theater when we show films. So if you have a suggestion – about our films, or anything else, let us know.

“Waste Land” Documentary Tuesday, 10/13

This Tuesday evening, a very special event, sponsored by the Tang Teaching Museum:

Join us for a 1-night only screening of “Waste Land”, a brilliant, Academy Award nominated documentary exploring the life and art of “garbage pickers” in the world’s largest garbage dump, in Rio de Janeiro. In the film, Brazilian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Vic Muniz gets to know the pickers, and ends up working with them to make art out of their findings. Not a craft project, this collaboration produces stunning works of art.

This screening is sponsored by the Tang Teaching Museum. In September, they opened a new exhibit – “Affinity Atlas” that charts an exploratory path across disciplines built on idiosyncratic treasures from the Tang collection, punctuated with recent works by a roster of contemporary artists including Vic Muniz.

Tang Director Ian Berry will introduce the film and discuss Muniz’s body of work. In addition, a discussion about sustainability will include Ian Rogers, who heads Sustainability efforts at Skidmore, and representatives from Sustainable Saratoga and Skidmore campus groups to discuss sustainability initiatives on the home front.

Here is a review (from RogerEbert.com) of Waste Land. 
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/waste-land-2011.

Don’t miss this BRILLIANT and TOUCHING film. You can see it on our big screen on Tuesday, 10/13.

Doors open at 6:30. We will have discussion BEFORE and AFTER the film.

Tell your friends, and Join us!

Tangerine

Last night of “Tangerine” (7:30 pm) – a film that is grittier than most that we show, and that (frankly) may make some of our fans and friends uncomfortable. The movie details 24 hours in the life of two transgender prostitutes in Los Angeles. We decided to show it, knowing it might put some people off.

So why show it? We are committed to showing a broad range of films – docs, foreign, and independent, as well as the occasional “bigger” movie. Our mission is to entertain, educate, and challenge, and we think this movie does all three. “Tangerine” is truly “Independent” and it will make some feel uncomfortable. This director (Sean Baker) makes smaller films, often about people who are not mainstream. He does it in an authentic way that ignores cliches. The two lead roles are indeed played by transgender women, although they are definitely acting. This is not a documentary. The film portrays their characters as real people.

Much has been made of the fact that the film was shot on an iPhone 5 (albeit with a special lens attachment). Baker makes films that haven’t typically attracted the “big money” and that gives him and his collaborators editorial independence. He is definitely a rogue.

If you haven’t seen “Tangerine” yet, don’t download it online. This film deserves to be seen on a big screen – the super-saturated lighting really gives you the feel of Los Angeles in a way that a computer screen or TV can’t.

Here is an interesting article from The Guardian about “Tangerine”, if you’re curious.

http://www.theguardian.com/…/tangerine-director-sean-baker-…

A Poignant Documentary: “Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine”

Capital Pride may have ended last weekend, but this Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, the Film Forum gives you a chance to catch the only Saratoga screening of the poignant documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, revisiting one of the most barbaric hate crimes in U.S. history.

On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally beaten, tied to a fence, tortured, and left to die—all because he was gay. Following the crime, Matt became a news headline, a political and cultural lightning rod, and a symbol. And yet in life he was none of those things. To those who knew him, he was a friend, son, and brother—an ordinary young man still in the process of becoming himself. Michele Josue was a friend of Matt’s. She’s now a filmmaker, and she revisits the case 17 years later, using never-before-seen photos, rare video footage, and new interviews to remember and celebrate Matt’s all-too-brief life through the vivid testimonies of those whose lives he touched—from friends and family, to the bartender who saw him on the night of the attack. Over the course of the film, new revelations emerge about the crime that took Matt’s life. The result is a searing, poignant, and multilayered biographical and sociological portrait, and hopefully a call to arms to keep all the other Matt Shepards in our lives from meeting a similar fate.

On Saturday, we present the final Spring Street Classic for the season, veering off from the traditional film noir fare with Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 romantic comedy/crime caper Out Of Sight. Based on the novel by the incomparable Elmore Leonard, George Clooney stars as an ex-con and prison escapee who ends up having a romantic fling with the federal marshal pursuing him, who happens to be played by Jennifer Lopez. Out of Sight was one of Clooney’s first mega-star-making vehicles.

The Film Forum will screen Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine at the Dee Sarno Theatre on Thursday, June 18, and Friday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $8, $6 for students and Film Forum members. Out Of Sight will be screened at the Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring Street, on Saturday, June 20, at 7:30 p.m. Admission for the Spring Street Classic series is free, but attendance is limited to the first 30 people. For more information about the Film Forum, please visit www.saratogafilmforum.org.

Salt of the Earth

“Salt of the Earth” brings memorable images to life

His most famous photos are of an open pit Brazilian gold mine, looking like the gates of hell with thousands of workers blackened by the soil they are digging under tortuous conditions. Brazilian documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado was trained as an economist, but found a calling to abandon his lucrative profession and travel the world as a social documentary photographer.  “Salt of the Earth”,  by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, brings to life its subject’s 40-year career with images that are both beautiful and heartbreaking and narration by Wenders, the two Salgados and the photographer’s wife.

“We’re terrible animals, we humans,” Sebastião Salgado says at one point. “Whether in Europe, in Africa, in South America, everywhere, we are extremely violent. Our history is a history of wars. It’s an endless story, a story of repression, of madness.” Yet his ultimate message is not one of despair. The film moves on to chronicle Salgado’s successful project to replant the Amazon rain forest on his family farm as he points out that half the world’s surface is still untouched by man.

Salgado has documented tragic events such as genocides in Rwanda and Yugoslavia and created memorable records of apocalyptic oil-well fires in Kuwait and migratory reindeer herders in the Arctic. Wherever he points his camera he finds drama and a grandeur that often overcomes suffering. Commenting on the power of his photography, the Philadelphia Inquirer said “adept at single-figure portraiture as startling, large-format groupings, Salgado possesses the eye of an artist but the soul of the economist he trained to be.”

“There are just as many breathtaking moments to be found in the film as there are in the work it’s about,” according to the Washington Post. “The film is suffused with his anguish over the state of our species, and our planet. Yet it ends with a change of heart and a turn of events that make a plausible case for hope,” said the Wall Street Journal, adding that “the best way to see “The Salt Of the Earth” is on a big screen, so seize the opportunity if it’s playing nearby.”

The Saratoga Film Forum will screen “Salt of the Earth” at the Dee Sarno Theatre, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs NY 12866.  Show times are Thursday, June 11,Friday, June 12, and Sunday, June 14, at 7:30 pm each day. General admission is $8 for the general public, $6 for members and students. For more information about the Film Forum, please visit www.saratogafilmforum.org, or call 584-3456.