Whitehorse filmgoers have a new monthly option to indulge their tastes.
The Yukon Film Society (YFS) and the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC) have teamed up to present the Available Light Cinema series, starting this Sunday.
“This is a vision that I’ve had for a few years, based on the response to the Available Light Film Festival,” film society programmer Andrew Connors explains.
“The response I was getting from audiences was that they wanted to see movies in a great cinema setting.”
One Sunday each month, the series will offer a 2 pm matinee, alternating family-friendly offerings with “more iconic and classic films,” followed by a feature documentary at 6 pm and a major piece of contemporary world cinema at 8 pm.
“I think the Film Society and Yukon Arts Centre are sort of working to create a vibrant cinema culture,” Connors says.
The partnership between YFS and YAC came together quickly once Connors floated the idea.
“Eric Epstein [YAC’s artistic director] is a huge film buff, so it didn’t really take much to convince him.”
The matinee series kicks off September 11 with one of Hollywood’s best-loved musicals, Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor.
Other classics this fall will include Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters and the groundbreaking 1971 Québec film, Mon Oncle Antoine. David Lean’s screen-filling epic, Lawrence of Arabia is on the bill for next spring.
The evening feature for opening day is Terrence Malick’s existential drama, The Tree of Life, winner of this year’s Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Set in 1950s Texas and the present day, and starring Sean Penn, Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, the film is being hailed as “the cinema event of the year,” Connors says.
“There’s a lot of mad debates about its brilliance and its infuriating self-indulgence, as some people see it,” he adds. “Terrence Malick is a cinema icon. He doesn’t make many films, and when he does, they’re usually pretty amazing cinema events.”
There will be an encore presentation of The Tree of Life on Wednesday, September 14 at 7:30 pm.
This week’s documentary, Louder Than a Bomb, follows a groups of teens from different Chicago schools as they prepare for the world’s largest slam poetry contest for high school students.
“These are kids with something to say that you want to listen to,” Connors says. “There are some really great performers in the film.”
The YFS programmer sees Available Light Cinema as more of a complement to what the two local movie houses present, rather than direct competition.
“For the most part, we’re presenting films that they’re not presenting. I think 90 per cent of our programming is that way.”
Still, he’s not shy about suggesting it might spur the theatres’ owners to make some changes.
“The cinemas here are sadly neglected, and everyone knows that,” he says. “Hopefully they do see it as competition, and finally build a new cinema, or just improve the experience in their cinemas.”
With the YAC’s huge screen, comfortable seats, surround-sound and hi-definition digital capability, Connors may have found the ticket to success.
“The projection there is pretty awesome. It’s as good as what I see when I see digital cinema in Vancouver at the film festival.”
Schedule and ticket information about Available Light Cinema is available at www.yukonfilmsociety.com.