Center to show mix of independent film and international cultural performance events
By Alison Rooney
The Paramount Center for the Arts has long been a beacon of light for those seeking film-going experiences beyond whatever is playing the local multiplex. Along with Newburgh’s Downing Film Center, and the Jacob Burns Film Center, in Pleasantville, it has been the only outlet for regular screenings of recently released independent and foreign films within a half hour of Philipstown. Although the programming has been top-rate, with showings of many heralded films taking place not long after their New York City screenings, the projection equipment was not at the same level as the repertory.
In what is very good news for not only cinephiles, but lovers of opera, ballet and international theater as well, after a brief absence the Paramount Center is re-launching its film series via a new partnership with Emerging Pictures, the largest all-digital specialty film network in the United States. Emerging Pictures uses digital technology to link together a network of independent theaters and arts centers, using their combined purchasing power to “cost-effectively exhibit art films, documentaries, foreign language films, independent cinema and cultural programming.” The Paramount Center joins with approximately 100 other institutions currently subscribed to Emerging Pictures’ roster of film and filmed cultural events to show this filmed material to its best advantage, projection-wise.
Emerging Films provides high quality digital masters; many upgraded and converted from standard definition into higher resolution. The masters are encoded into digital files. A digital data network has been assembled to allow the completed files to be sent over dedicated broadband lines from a common digital server to all venues on the network, including the Paramount Center. The “files” are projected digitally, presumably resulting in a much more pristine viewing experience. Emerging Films is working with the major studios and independents to make their libraries available in high definition digital format.
The Paramount Center’s initial offerings are taking place this week, with screenings of the usually hard to see Oscar-nominated live action and animated shorts. Those attending will also be able to participate in their own Oscar voting, with prizes for those who pick the winner announced on Oscar night.
On Sunday, Feb. 27, immediately following the 2 p.m. showing of the live action shorts, the Center will preview The Dress, produced by Ossining resident Kristen Hester and Hesterhouse Productions. Shot entirely on location at Tarrytown’s historic Lyndhurst estate, it is a 20-minute comedy about modern day weddings, exploring the themes of family, identity and absolute truth. There will be a Q & A ‘Meet the Film Makers’ reception during intermission.
Also showing this week is Wasteland, Oscar-nominated this year for outstanding documentary, which according to the Paramount Center’s notes, “follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of catadores — self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to ‘paint’ the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker has great access to the entire process and, in the end, offers stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.” The film screens on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 24 at 8 p.m.
The future programming mix will include high-definition and Surround Sound presentations of independent and international films, film festivals, and revivals of classics, as well as “specialized content such as operas, ballets, concerts, live theater, and movie premieres “¦ including the Visiting Film Makers series.” Promised are screenings of performances from Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet; the Paris Opera Ballet; and the ballet company of the Royal Opera House; opera from La Scala in Milan; and Shakespeare from the Globe Theatre in London.
Ticket prices for films are currently $9 and $7 for PCA members.
For a full listing of the Emerging Pictures catalogue, visit http://www.emergingpictures.com/
For updated Paramount Center for the Arts film listings, visit paramounthudsonvalley.com or the full website at paramounthudsonvalley.com, or phone 914 739-2333. The Paramount Center is located at 1008 Brown Street, in Peekskill.