Arts

Carbon Arc Cinema brings on writer-in-residence

The independent movie house begins new season with discussion about film both on- and off-screen.

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Director Siloën Daley and the rest of the crew at Carbon Arc Cinema are in the last stages of preparation before opening night on Friday.   Mikkel Frederiksen

On Friday, the lights will dim at Carbon Arc Cinema and the silver screen will light up for another season of films from far and wide.

Opening night is Hitchcock/Truffaut, a documentary inspired by the influential book of conversations between famous directors Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut. A film that talks about film seems fitting, as Carbon Arc this season aims to loosen lips and get Haligonians talking about film, too.

The art house cinema located at the Museum of Natural History has brought on film critic Carsten Knox as a new writer-in-residence. Every week, he’ll give the lowdown on that week’s film and what to expect in a blog on Carbon’s website.  

“The blog will be about what we’re showing this week and why we’re excited,” says Knox, who worked in the film industry before he became a film critic for a various outlets in print, radio and television. “Then there will be a post-screening post from me describing what I saw, how I felt about it, what the audience said about it and the conversations we had.”

For Siloën Daley, director of Carbon Arc, encouraging the conversation is important.

“At the screenings, I can see there’s an interest to keep talking, but we’re in a venue that doesn’t especially allow for it,” says Daley, referring to the space configuration of the cinema. She hopes Knox can use his experience to help guide a discussion. “This will hopefully be a more direct message of ‘We’re opening up the conversation’ and Carsten will try to be the leader of that discussion.”

Knox says there aren’t a lot of places for Haligonian cineastes to meet. Only in September, while the Atlantic Film Festival is on, can cinemagoers come together. That’s why he thinks it’s important Carbon Arc should try and be that place in the community going forward.

“It’s great to see these people, because they’re interested in film and Carbon Arc gives them an opportunity to get together and talk about it and see film as art in a way that they won’t get a chance to otherwise,” says Knox.

Most projection happens through digital files these days, but the projection booth at Carbon Arc still keeps a few reminders of bygone days.
Projectors play digital files these days, but the projection booth at Carbon Arc keeps a few reminders of the days when movie reels were the norm.   Mikkel Frederiksen

In addition to the blog, Knox, together with Stephen Cooke, will host a live show of their podcast Lens Me Your Ears after the screening of Hitchcock/Truffaut. Only one show is planned so far, but both Daley and Knox remain open to the idea of making it a recurring thing. Through the season, Knox will also let readers take a look at his own creative process.  

“I’m also a screenwriter, so I’d like to take the opportunity to work on a project and then share that process with the audience,” says Knox.

All of this is, according to Daley, in the interest of making Carbon Arc more than just a movie house.

“We thought about ways to increase community engagement with the cinema. We have a great community of film lovers and this seems like a way to get them more invested, and also grow the community through an online voice,” says Daley.

And like previous years, it still remains an ambition to have the cinema grow beyond showing only on weekends.

“At this point, we’ve been a steady presence for independent cinema in the city. We’re reaching a point where we’ve reached a certain level of loyalty where we’re selling out most nights. So now we’re looking at how we can further grow.” she says.