The first screenings of a new season is always a little hectic, but we got through it well, I thought. The Carbon Arc volunteers are pros, and I'm lucky to be amongst them.
Two out of three of our weekend shows were sold out, including Friday night's Hitchcock/Truffaut screening—a film I chose—which longtime Carbon Arc programmer Kendra tells me is the ideal circumstance for someone who selects films to screen for people. Though I'm a relative newbie to professional programming compared to her, I feel like I've finally earned my stripes.
I'd seen the film in Ottawa earlier in January, at their terrific rep cinema the Bytowne, but I enjoyed it a lot more on Friday night, no doubt due to the fact I'd spent the past three weeks watching as many of Alfred Hitchcock's films as I could fit in—about 15, as it happens. I needed to prepare for the post-screening chat with Stephen Cooke for our podcast, Lens Me Your Ears, and I haven't seen nearly as many of Hitchcock's films as he has.
What a treat that was... from 1927's The Lodger: A Story of London Fog to 1972's Frenzy, and lots of terrific pictures in between. And discussing it with Stephen afterwards in front of an audience was great fun.
I think even if you haven't seen a lot of Hitchcock, the documentary entertains. The appearance and appreciation of filmmakers including Martin Scorcese, Richard Linklater, and David Fincher, along with a treasure trove of clips, helps to illustrate Hitchcock's special gifts through 52 features and six decades of filmmaking. There are definitely moments when it crosses over from general cultural interest into hardcore film nerdery, but that was fine with me.
And the response from the audience, for the film and the post-film discussion, was very positive. More than one person suggested we should have a Hitchcock festival here at Carbon Arc. I'm all for that. Apparently there was one years ago at the late, lamented Wormwoods Cinema.
If you missed the podcast recording, I'll be sure to post a link to it here once it's online. To listen to some of our other episodes, please go here.
On Saturday night Carbon Arc hosted a double-screening of the Brazilian animated film Boy and the World, a fundraiser for Halifriends of Refugees' efforts to bring a Syrian family to Halifax. The first screening sold out, and we had a healthy crowd for the second screening, too.
The boy has a circle face, a crayon sketch with two dark ovals for eyes and a white and red striped shirt. He makes sounds, but he never talks, and everyone else sort of speaks in a Portuguese version of the adults' conversation in Charlie Brown animations.
The boy lives in a simple hut with a mother and father, but spends most of his time out in a lightly sketched landscape, flecks of colour against a white background, though the circular depth of the jungle is not far away, and the cloudlike fields of cotton.
His father is a migrant worker, and one day goes off on a snake train, leaving his family behind. The boy goes looking for his father and finds the enormous systems of factories, trucks, shipping containers, the city, visions of a potential future, the yawning chasm of poverty, the favelas, and even a battle between a bird of war and one of joy. The timeline, and animation styles, are fluid.
Boy and the World is beautiful and hypnotic, stuffed with imagination. But, at moments I felt it a little too austere, the effort to make it universal—as with the choice to not use dialogue—also makes for a bit of a didactic slog. And yet, on a dreamlike dime, it also can be intense, frightening, and deeply sad, its depiction of the industrial world as an inescapable, apocalyptic place.
I overheard one audience member say the film didn't have a single moment of real happiness in it, with the exception of a dog being rescued on the high seas. I wouldn't go so far—there's a journey here that includes bright, colourful moments, people finding pleasure in music and celebration.
But we are shown a lot of despair in the decoupage. The film takes philosophical shots at people's need to distract from what's important, our need for things, and an unquenchable hunger for resources, the endless systems of dark, satanic mills that fill the world.
I don't think this is really a picture for children younger than teens, based on the reaction of two parents after the screening who said their kids struggled with it. But no doubt it's a unique and challenging animated film.
Thanks to everyone who came out this weekend. Next Friday: Laurie Anderson's Heart Of A Dog.
Before I sign off, here are a few Carbon Arc housekeeping notes:
- Thanks to those who've taken our survey. If you haven't and would like to offer some feedback, there's a link at the bottom of the landing page.
- Since the renovations at the museum, the screening room temperature seems to be stuck at 74F, which is better than the alternative, I suppose, but we recommend audiences dress in layers.
- On the concessions front we're now offering tea and coffee and a few savory snacks.
- Carbon Arc only takes cash.
- Parking in the lot directly adjacent to the cinema is paid parking, run by the hospital across the street.