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Gateway Film Center Reopens for Memorial Day

Hope Madden Hope Madden Gateway Film Center Reopens for Memorial DayPhoto provided by Gateway Film Center
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And the world slowly inches back toward that hazy memory we call normal. What new evidence do we have? How about a big Memorial Day Weekend at the movies?

Historically, this was the weekend Hollywood deemed the beginning of blockbuster season. We could rely on a big-budget superhero movie, maybe something from Disney, possibly a toothy horror franchise kick-off. Not in 2020. But 2021 is looking more promising, especially now that Gateway Film Center intends to reopen for regular business in time for the holiday weekend.

That’s right, on Thursday, May 27 the film center resumes regular operations.

“A lot of us have fond memories of going to the movies on Memorial Day,” says GFC President and Programmer Chris Hamel. “From a health and safety perspective, we felt like the situation’s been going in the right direction for months now. It felt like the right combination. People really want to get back to the film center and it’s safe to get back to some normal programming.”

Hamel’s still not rushing things. He says GFC will still require social distancing, still require masks in public places, and will continue to limit screen capacity at 50%. But all the screens will be open.

“We know our audience is excited to get back into Screening Room 8,” he says.

The program planned is a mix of blockbusters, indie fare and retrospectives. How did Hamel decide what to screen?

“First and foremost, I had like a year to plan and think about how we wanted to come back,” he says. “We’ve got movies that are going to have mass appeal. We’ve got film festival favorites that we’ve been waiting a really long time to bring to Columbus. And one of the things I think people really love about the film center is that we do these things called “From the Collection.” Maybe that’s something you haven’t seen in a long time, maybe something you’ve never seen, or maybe it’s something you’ve just never gotten to see on the big screen.”

Big titles opening include Disney’s Cruella and the horror sequel A Quiet Place II, while The Evil Dead (1981) and a 4K restoration of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) represent films from the Collection. One of the festival favorites opening this weekend is the delightful G-rated documentary about a pig, a cow and a one-legged chicken, Gunda.

“One of the things that I think is going to be really important to Columbus audiences is that Gunda is finally coming,” Hamel says. “I feel really lucky that we were able to bring that to Columbus.”

Hamel also has two retrospectives planned, one of Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao. Her three features, Songs My Brothers Taught Me (2015), The Rider (2017) and Nomadland (2020) will screen alongside the filmmaker’s early-career short films.

“I think we’re one of a handful of venues in the country that actually has played all of her films,” Hamel says. “But she also has a collection of short films. People who want to watch her growth as a filmmaker will have the opportunity to watch those in a shorts block.”

Another retrospective planned covers the features and shorts of Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon.

“I love the Cartoon Saloon films,” says Hamel of The Secret of the Kells (2009), Song of the Sea (2014), The Breadwinner (2017), and last year’s Oscar contender Wolfwalkers. “It’s pretty remarkable that the studio has put out four features and they’re all this amazing.”

The lineup also includes a block of the animators’ shorts.

“It’s a great program, and also great for all ages,” Hamel continues.

That’s not the end of the inspired short pairings, either. Pedro Almodóvar’s highly anticipated short The Human Voice starring Tilda Swinton will screen alongside his 1988 gem Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

“Almodóvar is one of the greatest living filmmakers,” Hamel declares. “Tilda Swinton is one of my favorite living actors. I’m really thrilled The Human Voice is actually coming to Columbus. It worked out through good timing and some really loud begging. It’s only 30 minutes long but based on the same subject matter as Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. A lot of people haven’t seen that and don’t understand what a remarkable, incredible film that is. Don’t miss the chance to see that in a movie theater.”

There’s also an unearthed George Romero (The Amusement Park), and a Mads Mikkelsen two-fer (Riders of Justice and Another Round).

“I think most everybody I know loves Mads Mikkelson, and so why not let people watch two Mads Mikkelsen films?” Hamel asks. “We really deserve it after 2020.”

All this and more, all on the big screen. Check out gatewayfilmcenter.org for tickets and showtimes.

Follow Hope on twitter @maddwolf and listen to her weekly movie review podcast, THE SCREENING ROOM.

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