Amherst Cinema to present new films as part of the festival’s satellite program

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AMHERST – Attending the Sundance Film Festival is no small feat. As the nation’s largest independent film festival, Sundance has attracted around 120,000 attendees in recent years – and when travel, hotels, meals, and ticket prices are factored in, visits to the festival in Park City , in Utah, can also cost thousands of dollars. dollars.

But Valley moviegoers will have an easier, cheaper option next month to get a taste of Sundance 2022: watch some of the new movies at the Amherst Theater.

The cinema is one of seven independent theaters across the country that are part of Sundance’s “Satellite Screens” program, in which a selection of Sundance films will screen during the festival’s closing weekend, 28-30. January.

At the Amherst cinema, eight feature films and four short films will be screened over the weekend. The films – dramas, dark comedies, documentaries, period plays – cover a wide range of subjects and are specially designed to provide viewers with both a “multicultural and international perspective,” said Yasmin Chin Eisenhauer, executive director of the cinema. .

“I like to see [the Sundance films] both like a mirror and a window, ”said Eisenhauer. “They are a mirror in the sense that people can see aspects of their own life reflected in them, and they are a window in the way that they give you a portal to other worlds. “

Sundance, which will screen 82 feature films between January 20 and January 30, presented its satellite program last January when the festival was forced to go live due to the pandemic. Next, Eisenhauer said, Amherst Cinema was invited to apply for the 2022 version of the event.

“We’re excited to be a part of it this year,” she said, noting that the cinema is the only Northeastern cinema to be included in the program (the other six participating theaters are in Maryland, Tennessee , North Carolina, Kansas, California and Washington).

Spencer Alcorn, director of communications for the Sundance Institute, said in an email that the film festival considers “several dozen places” to be part of the Satellite Screens program “in recognition of a shared alignment as organizations at Mission-driven nonprofit committed to independent film dynamics, excellence in community programming and outreach, as well as inclusion and equity.

Eisenhauer said Amherst Cinema has built a strong relationship with Sundance over the years, both by showing new Sundance films after their Utah debut and because George Myers, the theater’s general manager and programmer, has attended the festival for over 10 years to discover new material to bring to Amherst.

“We always looked for both the bigger movies and the smaller ones, the ones on the fringes that would appeal to our audiences and offer a variety of stories and settings,” she said. “So have the opportunity now to strengthen our relationship with the festival through the Satellite Screens program?” It was obvious.

Eisenhauer said the films to be shown here and in the other theaters were chosen after the Sundance programmers had individual and collective discussions with the theaters. “They asked us what our audience was looking for and what we were hoping to give them, what our regular programming looked like,” she said. “There were a lot of very good round trips. “

In a statement, Kim Yutani, director of programming for Sundance, said the upcoming films “reflect the troubling and uncertain times we have lived in for a year and a half … through their bold and innovative storytelling, and their pure determination to create a work at this time, [the artists] challenges us to look at the world from different angles and to examine and reassess the impact of these stories on us now and in the future.

In “Emergency,” for example, two black students, Kunle and Sean, prepare for a fraternal fraternity party tour of their school. But when they find out that a white girl has passed out on their living room floor, Kunle and Sean and their Latino roommate Carlos are faced with a dilemma: do they call the cops, knowing the optics are wrong. and that police interactions with blacks can go south in a hurry?

And in “Alice”, a young black woman enslaved in Georgia in the 19th century escapes through the nearby woods and suddenly finds herself in America in 1973. The film, the first feature film by writer-director KrystinVer Linden, “Spins a modern liberation fable that is equal parts earthy Southern Gothic and soulful blaxploitation,” according to the program notes.

Other features include a documentary, “Free Chol Soo Lee,” the story of a Korean immigrant falsely accused of murder in San Francisco in 1973; “Marte Um (Mars One)”, portrait of a poor Brazilian family facing the election of a far-right president; and “Sirens,” a documentary about young Lebanese women trying to become the Middle East’s first all-female metal band.

Eisenhauser says Amherst Cinema will also be showing a short film, “What Travelers Say about Jornada del Muerto,” which shows how people react when visiting the Trinity test site in New Mexico, where the The first atomic bomb explosion took place in 1945. The film is directed by Hope Tucker, who teaches at Hampshire College, and the screening will be exclusive to Amherst Cinema.

The theater plans to offer additional programming over the weekend of Jan. 28-30, Eisenhauser said, and they are also considering the possibility of adding director-recorded commentary to some of Sundance’s feature films.

“We would like it to be as complete an experience as possible,” she noted.

Sundance film ticket sales will open on January 6. In accordance with security protocols observed at both the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and the Amherst Theater, all ticket holders must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (which must be at least two weeks prior to attending) and wear face masks, which can only be removed when moviegoers eat or drink for them.

More information on Sundance films and regular Amherst Cinema programming is available at amherstcinema.org.

Steve Pfarrer can be contacted at [email protected]

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