Two days, three films

Strand gets Reel (Film Festival)

Jun 12, 2017
Judy Garland stars in 1954’s “A Star Is Born,” the second of four versions (the latest comes out this fall) of the rags to showbiz riches — and heartache — story.

Rockland — The presentation of movies as they were originally meant to be viewed — on 35mm film projected onto the silver screen — is coming back to the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., for two days, Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24.

Three films — “Cabaret,” “A Star is Born” and “The Band Wagon” — will be the lineup for the Reel Film Festival, which organizers hope will become an annual event for the downtown Strand.

“The Strand is one of only a few theaters in the region that has the ability to project film,” said Jo Dondis, chairman of the board of the Friends of the Strand Theatre, the nonprofit entity that owns and operates the Strand. When the theater switched to digital projection three years ago, the comfortable size of the projection booth allowed it to keep two large projectors.

“Although the casual observer may not notice the difference between digital and film there is a richness, a certain ‘flicker’ that comes with the film experience,” Dondis said. “We want to give our audiences the opportunity to enjoy that at least once a year.”

The films, among the greatest cinematic musicals of all time, are linked by two stars and a director. Vincente Minnelli directed “The Band Wagon” (1953, starring Fred Astaire). His daughter, Liza Minnelli, starred in “Cabaret” (1972); and her mother, Judy Garland, was the showstopper in “A Star is Born” (1954).

“We wanted to tie the program together thematically, and because of the popularity of the musical ‘La La Land,’ this year, thought it was a good time to showcase musicals,” said Jessie Davis, executive director of the Strand. The festival’s program offers a big punch in terms of sheer entertainment, she added, and is designed to appeal to a wide range of people, not just film purist.

Featured speakers will include world preeminent Judy Garland author, authority and lecturer John Fricke; and film producer, writer, director and local resident Willard Carroll.  Emmy Award-winning Fricke, who has written seven books on Garland, will speak briefly before each film and answer questions afterward. Carroll, an Emmy Award-winning producer whose films include “Playing By Heart,” “Marigold” and “Tom’s Midnight Garden,” will join Fricke on stage after the final screening Saturday evening to wrap up the festival with a conversation about the films and the musical genre in general.

The Constellation Center Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive is loaning the Strand the three restored film prints. The screening schedule is as follows: “Cabaret,” Friday at 7 p.m.; “A Star Is Born,” Saturday at 2 p.m.; and “The Band Wagon,” Saturday at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $12 per screening, or $30 for a festival pass that includes admission to all three films. For more information, visit rocklandstrand.com; call 594-0070, ext. 3; or email info@rocklandstrand.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

Strand Theatre Manager Liz McLeod knows all about the magic, mystery and challenges of 35mm film projection. (Photo by: Dagney C. Ernest)
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