Feb 032016

Ghost ArmyThere is reality and there is perception in life, but in the summer of 1944, camouflaging which was which was the point of an absurd, yet deadly, yet creative ruse being played out during World War II. The details of which were in The Ghost Army, an award winning documentary by Rick Beyer that played to sold out houses at the 2013 Salem Film Fest — and is returning as the Salem Film Fest presents a special screening of The Ghost Army this Thursday at CinemaSalem at 8:15pm. Beyer will be available for a Q&A session.

During World War II, a handpicked group of American GI’s undertook a bizarre mission: create a traveling road show of deception on the battlefields of Europe, with the German Army as their audience. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops used inflatable rubber tanks, sound trucks, and dazzling performance art to bluff the enemy again and again, often right along the front lines.

Many of the men picked to carry out these dangerous deception missions were artists. Some went on to become famous, including fashion designer Bill Blass. In their spare time, they painted and sketched their way across Europe, creating a unique and moving visual record of their war. Their secret mission was kept hushed up for nearly 50 years after the war’s end.

Beyer has been quoted as saying “The idea that American soldiers in World War II went into battle with inflatable tanks and sound effects records was so bizarre, so contrary to every image from every war movie I’ve ever seen, that it immediately attracted my attention.”

The story will do the same for you.

For more details on the documentary, check out the coverage by PBS and view this excerpt.

For tickets to the showing at CinemaSalem please go to this website.

The Salem Film Fest will return March 3-10, 2016.

Sep 272015

In the midst of the mayhem & madness that swirls around Salem in October for Haunted Happenings, there will be an homage to Salem’s other historical claim to fame— seafaring adventures as the National Park Service will present a free outdoor showing of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World  Oct. 3rd at 7pm on Derby Wharf.

MasterThe stage for the film is the vast ocean. The adventure is high. And the film will be projected on the exterior of the historic Pedrick Store House!

Noted film reviewer Roger Ebert wrote “Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is an exuberant sea adventure told with uncommon intelligence; we’re reminded of well-crafted classics before the soulless age of computerized action. Based on the beloved novels of Patrick O’Brian, it re-creates the world of the British navy circa 1805 with such detail and intensity that the sea battles become stages for personality and character.”

Ebert went on to say “The film centers on the spirits of two men, Capt. Jack Aubrey [Russell Crowe] and ship’s surgeon Stephen Maturin [Paul Bettany]. Readers of O’Brian’s 20 novels know them as friends and opposites — Aubrey, the realist, the man of action; Maturin, more intellectual and pensive.”

Here is a taste of the film from the 2003 trailer

And what about our own resident-in-harbor tall ship? The Friendship of Salem, will also be open for special evening hours from 5-6:30pm, just to help you get into the maritime mood.

As this is an outside, free event, definitely bring lawn chairs, blankets, and snacks— but NO alcoholic beverages allowed.

Be there a rainstorm or a squall? Then the film will hoist anchor and be shown in the NPS auditorium at 2 New Liberty Street, Salem. For more info call the Visitor Center at 978-740-1650.

There is one other thing to take note of, the last line on the NPS Cinema by the Sea Facebook page “Visit us on this very special evening to find out how Salem and Master and Commander are linked!”

Sea-faring action. Complex character studies. Free admission. And a mystery. Who could ask for more on a Saturday night in Salem?

Mar 032015

Interaction. There are many factors contributing to Salem Film Fest’s continued growth and worldwide recognition, with interaction between moviegoers and filmmakers being a key element. You can be part of that process March 5-12 when Salem Film Fest is presented in Salem Ma.

Shoulder the LionThis year, 38 films will be showcased by filmmakers representing 10 different countries telling stories from around the world. Of these films, 29 will be making their North American, US, East Coast, New England or Massachusetts premiere.

As self-described on their web page “Salem Film Fest focuses on well-told stories with strong technical elements and interesting visual approaches, each film screened over the week-long schedule represents an immersive aesthetic experience, an opportunity to glimpse the world with fresh eyes, and leave changed as a result.”

It is also an open opportunity for you, the viewer, to speak directly with many of the driving forces of the films to be screened, as more than half of these films will feature Q&As with the filmmakers.

For example, consider this forum topic: Filmmakers often encounter people experiencing difficult life situations while making a film. How does a filmmaker balance respect and empathy for their subjects, while crafting the narrative of their film?

Salem Film FestScreenings will take place at the Peabody Essex Museum and CinemaSalem.

PEM will also host the opening night film and the closing awards ceremony, live music, talks and art making.

For films shown at PEM, tickets may be purchased at the admissions desk, by calling 978-542-1511 or by visiting salemfilmfest.com. Ticket sales at PEM will conclude each day by 4:30 pm. Tickets are also available through CinemaSalem (in-person box office or at cinemasalem.com).

(Photo from Shoulder the Lion, a film focusing on “three artists, three tragedies. The usual story told in a very unusual way.”)

Feb 242015

Film Fest WindowWith the Oscars out of the way, you can now focus up close and personal on the Salem Film Fest (March 5-12). Entering its eighth year, Salem Film Fest is one of New England’s largest documentary film festivals; it attracts submissions and attendees from all over the world.

We’ll have more on the SFF in an upcoming blog, but if you want a sampling of SFF, Creative Salem produced an Oscar worthy profile page. But there is a visual problem with being the home of SFF, and we’ve come up with a solution that requires your assistance.

“The only drawback of a festival like Salem Film Fest,” explains Kylie Sullivan, Salem Main Streets Manager, “is that, by necessity, the vast majority of the action happens behind closed doors. The Film Fest gets bigger and better every year, but sometimes it’s hard to see that if you’re just walking down the street.”

She continues, “Therefore, we started the Film Fest window decorations last year because we wanted people to walk into town and KNOW that there was a film festival in town! In addition, we have many filmmakers and guests from out of town who are exploring the city for the first time during the festival. The Salem community gets so excited for this festival, and we wanted to have a visual representation of that excitement to welcome our visitors.”

Merchants, if you’ve got a downtown storefront window, we want to see your best film-inspired window! While the festival focuses on documentaries, your window does not have to be documentary-specific (windows inspired by Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, or The Avengers are absolutely encouraged).

This year, we will have a jury select a winning window. The winner of the competition will become the underwriter of a single film for the 2016 Salem Film Fest ($300 value)!

As a sign that this is indeed a group effort, if you need some inspiration or materials, Paul Van Ness of CinemaSalem will again be donating old celluloid film and film reels (and popcorn!) to anyone who wants to decorate a window. Stop by the Main Streets / Chamber offices at 265 Essex any time after 12:30 pm for film, popcorn, and Salem Film Fest posters (while they last)!

Participating businesses must notify Salem Main Streets of their interest and have window decorations completed by Friday, Feb. 27. So don’t delay. Any questions should be sent to kylie@salemmainstreets.org or go old school and call 978-744-0004.

(Photo courtesy of Social Palates)

Oct 122014

Coming soonObviously neither Bram Stoker (creator of the popular Dracula character) nor Vincent Price (celebrated actor in many a macabre movie) can be here. Both have passed on. But descendants are keeping the memories, stories and work alive… and will be sharing with you this month during Haunted Happenings: Dacre Stoker on 10/16 and Victoria Price on 10/20.

Dacre Stoker is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and himself an author, having written Dracula: The Un-Dead (with Ian Holt) said to be based on handwritten notes of Bram Stoker’s for characters and plot threads. He will be in Salem to discuss the Stoker family perspective on all things Dracula as part of a film screening of the award winning documentary Vampires of New England at CinemaSalem, 7pm on Oct. 16.

Canadian by birth and now living in South Carolina, Stoker has been a teacher and an athletics coach (in fact he is a former Pentathlon world champion and coached the Canadian Pentathlon team in Seoul at the 1988 Summer Olympics). And from this clip, you can hear he is also an engaging speaker.

Dacre Stoker – Garlic and Vampires from Historical Haunts on Vimeo.
Called “The Blood is the Life: A Night of Dracula and New England Vampires” the event is presented by Historical Haunts LLC and Cinema Salem. Stoker will be available for photos and autographs afterwards.

For more info go to www.histhaunts.com or www.cinemasalem.com.

This month has also been a celebration of another author, Edgar Allan Poe. Of course one could not visit the written works of Poe without the visual memories of the stories as presented by Vincent Price in many movies. Rounding out the celebration of all things Poe will be a special appearance by Victoria Price, the actor’s daughter on Oct. 20th.

Price will make herself available in three different areas of Salem:

  • 5:30 pm, a walking tour of Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery
  • 6 pm, a lecture/talk at the next-door STV studios.
  • After the lecture ends, Price will meet with participants at The Scarlet Letter Press & Gallery for an evening of wine & words (she will sign autographs).

Victoria has established herself as a lively, popular public speaker (as you will see in the below clip) on topics ranging from the life of her famous father, to interior/industrial design to the role of the art collector in society.

Victoria Price from thesoundofvincentprice.blogspot.com.
Her stories about her dad will charm, entertain and give you insights to the man that we loved to have scare us.

For more info go to The Scarlet Letter Press or The Nightmare Gallery.