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IU Cinema: a place for (repertory) film

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UPDATE: IU Cinema's grand opening has been pushed back to January 2011.

Central Indiana is aching for a repertory cinema. It doesn't know it yet, but it deserves a place to watch film — both contemporary and classic — where thoughtful programmers have the time to put together illuminating retrospectives, where decently-paid projectionists know what they're doing, where filmmakers might go out of their way to bring their work.

Sure, we get weekends (or full weeks) of solid programming at local theaters: last month's Indianapolis International Film Festival at the IMA, of course; Heartland, if you can stand the anodyne programming philosophy and ignore the fact that you're the youngest person in the theater, even if you're middle-aged; the IMA's winter programming, when they get a 35mm print.

But it's all in fits and starts. Which is why I'm excited to see that Indiana University-Bloomington is putting together a "world-class facility and program...dedicated to the scholarly study and highest standards of exhibition of film in its traditional and modern forms." And that that facility is almost ready to open, with a star-studded opening month of programming planned for October.

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The Indiana University Cinema will be located in the former University Theater, which remained dormant for a while after the theater department moved into new facilities — I recall walking by the building many a time while on campus, with nary a thought as to what might go inside.

Well, someone was thinking, and IU will have a cinema that's commensurate with its not insignificant film holdings — a whole bunch of 35mm, 16mm and 8mm prints held by the Lilly Library (which also holds the papers of John Ford, Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich and, not relevant but cool, Houdini), the Black Film Center/Archive (including, I think, some obscure Oscar Micheaux) and Kinsey Institute (so many stag films), as well as the David Bradley collection, a trove of 16mm films collected by a Chicago silent film aficionado.

Plenty more info, including more about the technical aspects of the theater (seating, THX sound certification — IU Cinema hopes to be the second theater in the state to be classified as such, projectors) can be found on the Facebook page. And while I'm vehicularly-challenged right now, I hope to make it down for some of the opening ceremonies (thanks to director Jon Vickers for being so hospitable in advance). I'm particularly interested in seeing the Ford silent, The Iron Horse, and Anger, both because of his work and because he's said to be a curmudgeon par excellence.

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