Clear your calendars, LA cinephiles! The American Cinematheque has announced the titles for its extraordinary 70mm festival, coming days after the film palace reopened following a three-year restoration at the legendary Egyptian Theater. Netflix purchased the cinema in partnership with the American Cinematheque in 2020.
The 516-seat theater, long the home of the American Cinematheque before the renovation, will retain its full capacity to show 70mm prints and will also be one of only five theaters in the U.S. capable of to show nitrate films. This early form of celluloid printing is notable for its amazing sharpness and vivid colors—you’ve never seen Technicolor until you’ve seen it in nitrate—but it’s extremely flammable, which you know if you’ve seen “Inglourious Basterds.” therefore more difficult to handle for many projectionists these days.
The “Ultra Cinematheque 70: Hollywood” festival, running November 10-21, opens with a 70mm print of Jacques Tati’s 1967 masterpiece “Playtime,” provided by Janus Films. The extra-wide Super HD format is ideal for this film, encouraging you to scan around the frame at all times as multiple axes of action are constantly taking place, as if you were scanning a large format Breughel painting where multiple things are happening all at once – almost the “choose your own adventure” of cinema. Every now and then, “Playtime” is shown in 70mm (I saw it at the Gene Siskel Center in Chicago in 2008), but it’s rare enough to be considered a true cinematic event.
Also showing are the American Cinematheque’s 70mm prints of “Lawrence of Arabia” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” And remember when there was an uproar over Disney allegedly withholding archival prints from the House of Representatives? Bruce Goldstein told IndieWire that this wasn’t actually a problem, and IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann interrupted the general outcry over the issue at the time. Well, Disney is screening at the American Cinematheque a 70mm print of James Cameron’s Aliens, a 20th Century Fox title that Disney acquired with its purchase of the studio in 2019.
“Boogie Nights,” “West Side Story,” “Spartacus,” “The Master,” “The Wild Bunch” and “Nope” will also receive the 70mm treatment as part of the program.
Beyond Fest at the American Cinematheque will also feature Ridley Scott’s original “Alien” as well as a screening of Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” with Wright participating in a question-and-answer session moderated by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert will attend. The influence of Netflix is noticeable here: the screening is linked to the animated series “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off,” which debuts on the streamer.
Chief projectionist Ben Tucker will be in the booth along with projectionists from the American Cinematheque Union when the theater reopens on November 9th and beyond. Friday, Saturday and Sunday lineups are programmed by the AC, which also programs the Aero and Los Feliz 3 theaters under the leadership of newly promoted artistic director Grant Moninger and senior programmer Chris Lemaire. Imani Davis, Cindy Flores, Lyric Luedke and John Hagelston round out the team.
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