Thursday, August 27, 2015

Last Picture Show at the Pacific Film Archive's Cal Theater

It's impossible for me to calculate the many happy and gratifying hours spent over the years watching a vast array of cinematic offerings and discussions with filmmakers and programmers at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

Highlights include catching the Bela Tarr retrospective and seeing his 7-hour-plus masterpiece "Satantango" several times, Marx Brothers comedies, French New Wave classics by Agnes Varda, the residency of Pedro Costa from Portugal, the restored and uncut "Ludwig" from Luchino Visconti, many films introduced by former director Edith Kramer, Hollywood melodramas and epics, programmer Kathy Geritz's series devoted to Lithuania's Sarunas Barta, and this year current director Susan Oxtoby's monumental look at Georgian cinema.

I asked communications director Peter Cavagnaro for details on how long the "temporary" theater was in operation on the Cal campus and an approximate number of flicks shown:

"We started showing film at the 2575 Bancroft Way PFA Theater location in September 1999. We were the first official tenants of that structure. We show anywhere from 380-420 screenings/year. I'd estimate we have hosted around 6,000 or so screenings in the space. The new theater will be awesome. Trust me. No one will be disappointed."

Like many Bay Area cineastes, I anticipate spending a lot of time at the new facility after it opens in January 2016. I will miss seeing longtime house manager Becky Mertens running the box office and coordinating the work-study students. She's been let go and my video is dedicated to her. Becky made the PFA theater a welcoming environment and a warm home for movie buffs to spend an afternoon or evening.

Here's my video of some of the events that took place on Saturday, August 1st, of the final weekend on campus. It was a blast to be there with fellow movie-lovers, the fabulous PFA crew, and to hear Victor Erice discuss his Spanish classic "The Spirit of the Beehive" and then see a beautiful print of it.

See you at the new PFA theater in 2016!

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