April 17, 2018

Lightbox Film Center Turns 1!

A Conversation with Chief Curator Jesse Pires

On Saturday, April 21, Lightbox Film Center will mark a major milestone with its One-Year Celebration, a party in the spirit of this iconoclastic Philly institution. Chief Curator Jesse Pires explains what’s happened in the past twelve months and what viewers can expect from the coming ones, starting with the party and screening. (Tickets are still available but act quickly!)


What has changed in the year since Lightbox became Lightbox?


In some ways a lot has changed in the year since our “re-brand.” Audience response has been overwhelmingly positive to our new identity. We’ve highlighted the various types of film programs we present in new categories: Subversive Elements, inspired by Amos Vogel’s essential book Film as a Subversive Art, which showcases the most radical and subversive film and video art from around the world; Arthouse Revisited, which explores the canonical films of world cinema. This series was also recently underwritten by the generous philanthropist Louis Bluver. We’ve increased membership and have seen packed houses for many screenings. Of course, the programming itself has not changed and will continue to offer the best and widest range of film events as we’ve done for more than 40 years.

How will you celebrate this milestone?


I’ve organized a screening of Bernardo Bertolucci’s incredible feature-length film Before the Revolution, which will be followed by a reception featuring food, beverages and the amazing DJ Silvia playing European pop from the 1960s.


Why screen Before the Revolution?


This is a special 35mm print of the film that is currently touring around to several venues in the U.S. It’s a rare film and one that firmly established the reputation of the young Bertolucci. I can’t think of a better film that embodies the bold and daring approach to film programming here at Lightbox. I’m very excited for people to discover (or rediscover) this powerful piece of world cinema history.


What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?


I would love to see even more recognition for our stellar program. We’ve always been one of the “best-kept secrets” in Philadelphia and I’m still amazed when I meet someone who hasn’t been here. I truly hope that as Lightbox we’ll solidify our reputation as a world class resource for all things cinema.


What programs are you most looking forward to over the coming months?


There are so many great screenings coming up it’s hard to choose which one to highlight. We’re celebrating Ingmar Bergman’s centennial year in September with ten films. We’re doing a complete retrospective on the phenomenal Czech stop-motion animator Jiri Trnka in October. An incredible double bill of Jennifer West’s Film Title Poem and Stan Vanderbeek’s Poemfields in July. And then there are all the great new restorations coming up: Fassbinder’s Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day, an eight-hour made for TV epic screening here in July; a new restoration of Dennis Hopper’s forgotten classic The Last Movie in August, and Med Hondo’s Soleil O later in the fall. That’s just a small sampling.

What would you want people to know about Lightbox Film Center that they might not already know?


Lightbox is so much more than just a movie theater. This is a community resource for all Philadelphians. If you spend some time here seeing films, chatting with scholars and artists along with fellow cinema enthusiasts, you’ll find that it’s a mind-expanding experience that conventional film and TV viewing can’t provide. This is the place to truly appreciate what moving images mean to our culture and society.