Gulf Gate Film Screenings Unite Cinephile Community



Between surprise rainstorms and the glaring heat, locals need little excuse to duck inside mid-day, and the folks at Gulf Gate Library sweeten the deal with the ongoing Feature Film Series, led by former film professor Dr. Maryann Dahlen. Free and open to the public, join like-minded cinephiles, film enthusiasts and those just looking for a quality movie, as Dahlen screens a select film before leading a post-credits discussion on both the film in question and the art of film in general. This afternoon at 1pm, Dahlen closes the current program on Women Directors with a screening of the Academy Award-winning Frida, before beginning the summer series on Friday, making this a rare occasion to have two screenings in one week, and a perfect time for newcomers to get a feel for the group.

Directed by Julie Taymor, known perhaps more in film for her visually ambitious Shakespeare adaptations, such as Titus and The Tempest, Frida sees the director matching her bold hand to the vivid palette of artist Frida Kahlo, played by Salma Hayek. Delving into her life both on and off the canvas, the film explores the intertwining of art, politics and Kahlo’s lust for life, with supporting turns by the likes of Alfred Molina and Geoffrey Rush, playing artist/husband Diego Rivera and politician/lover Leon Trotsky, respectively. And with recent revelations as to Hayek’s arduous journey getting the film made despite spurning the advances of now-infamous producer Harvey Weinstein, Kahlo’s own resistance to being caged by the powerful men around her takes on added resonance.

Gathering in Meeting Room A of the Gulf Gate Library, and equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector, Dahlen and fellow film fans sit for a brief introduction before dimming the lights and letting the movie speak for itself. Afterward, the group will talk amongst themselves about what they thought, felt and saw. Dahlen, a professor of film who has taught at both State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and Ringling College of Art and Design, facilitates the discussion, throwing in everything from group questions to bits of fun trivia. It’s a casual and informal affair, with all who wish to offer an opinion given a chance. “The best part of the screenings is the participation of the audience after the screenings,” says Dahlen. “Many times they have interesting reflections on the films we have watched and I learn something as well.”

In the days of Netflix and with an aging population, the series represents one more reason to get out of the house and get together for a full artistic experience—and one that the community has enjoyed, according to Patty Friend, librarian at Gulf Gate Library. “They get a lot more out of it than simply watching it on their own,” she says.

Meeting on the last Wednesday of every month for this spring session on women directors, which ends with tonight’s screening of Frida, a summer series dedicated to silent film begins this Friday, June 1, with a screening of 1928’s Show People. Throughout the summer, showings will be on the first Friday of every month.

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