Film clubs appeal to all ages in Westchester

There are a number of film clubs in There are a number of film clubs in the Hudson Valley for those who want to move beyond watching just blockbuster flicks. Photo Credit: Newsday / Ana P. Gutierrez

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If your interest in cinema goes beyond box office blockbusters and Oscar-nominated movies, you're the perfect candidate to join a film club. Lucky for you, there are many in the Hudson Valley. Here are four notable clubs that cater to different ages and interests in Westchester County.

TALK CINEMA

Location: Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, Purchase

Host: Film critic Harlan Jacobson

Synopsis: Co-founding Talk Cinema in 1992, Harlan and Susan Jacobson found their first home for the film club at Lincoln Center in New York City, and started welcoming members to Purchase College screenings in 2000.

Active members: About 300

Time and day of meetings: 7 p.m., select Tuesdays; 10 films per season

Seasons active: Winter, spring, fall; festival tour trips offered year-round

Are tickets available through subscription, walk-up or both? Both

Cost: $175 for 10 sessions, $20 for individual screenings; three-movie packages also available

Is the next season sold out? No

Past guests: "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" director Niels Arden Oplev and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" producer Anthony Bregman

Why the host likes movies: "I've always been a movie guy," Harlan Jacobson said. "Movies have a chance to put a lens on the world, and tell the truth in a way that the newspaper can't."

Info: Talk Cinema, PepsiCo Theatre at the Performing Arts Center, 735 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase; 800-551-9221; www.talkcinema.com

WESTCHESTER CINEMA CLUB

Location: Clearview Plaza Cinema, Yonkers

Host: Museum of the Moving Image chief curator David Schwartz

Synopsis: Founded by Beth Kochen and Marilyn Ackerman in 1980, the Westchester Cinema Club touts itself as the first film club in the nation to screen full-length, first-run movies before their public release. Its first meetings were held in another Central Avenue theater, the Scarsdale Fine Arts Cinema building (which closed in 2006), but shifted to Clearview Plaza Cinema in the late '90s due to popular demand. Schwartz, who had been a recurring guest speaker, took over as host about four years ago. Coffee and light refreshments are served before each screening.

Active members: About 500

Time and day of meetings: 10 a.m. select Sundays; five to seven films per season

Seasons active: Winter, spring, fall; winter season began Jan. 27 and runs through April 21

Are tickets available through subscription, walk-up or both? Subscription

Cost: $115 for seven-session winter season; $80 for five-session spring season; $180 for both seasons

Is the next season sold out? No

Past guests: "Amelia" director Mira Nair, "Conviction" director Tony Goldwyn; film critics David Edelstein and Owen Gleiberman have stopped by to chat about movies

Why the host likes movies: "Movies that get the best response in the club, and that people love, are the ones that strike a chord emotionally," Schwartz said. "It's always the emotional component that's most important."

Info: Westchester Cinema Club, Clearview Plaza Cinema, 2630 Central Park Ave., Yonkers; 914-312-7360; www.westchestercinemaclub.com

FRIDAY NIGHT FILMS

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Location: Media Arts Lab of the Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville

Host: JBFC faculty member Sean Weiner

Synopsis: Founded by Weiner in March 2009, Friday Night Films is open exclusively to high school students, who help curate the films and shape discussions after screenings. "I wanted teens to have the same opportunity to experience Q&As with award-winning filmmakers that the adults [at the Burns] have," Weiner said. "Friday Night Films allows for that."

Active members: About 40

Time and day of meetings: 7 p.m. Fridays (usually the first Friday of the month)

Seasons active: Year-round; next meeting is Feb. 8

Are tickets available through subscription, walk-up or both? They're free; just show up

Cost: Free

Is the next season sold out? No

Past guests: "Winter's Bone" director Debra Granik and "Tarnation" documentarian Jonathan Caouette, whose Friday Night Films screening marked the "only time he screened the film for teenagers," according to Weiner.

Why the host likes movies: "The thing that resonates for me about movies, and the reason has a great deal to do with why I work at JBFC, is that film is a window onto unknown experiences: Places we've never been. Obstacles we've never faced. People we've never met," Weiner said. "It's a wonderful way to familiarize [ourselves] with life and culture. And it always seems, when the credits roll, that it all comes back to the same old story. How very similar our stories are regardless of who we are or where we're from."

Info: Friday Night Films, Jacob Burns Film Center Media Arts Lab, 405 Manville Rd., Pleasantville; 914-747-5555; www.burnsfilmcenter.org

EMELIN FILM CLUB

Location: Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck

Host: Film critic Marshall Fine

Synopsis: As a critic working for The Journal News in 2001, Fine launched a film club at the Jacob Burns Film Center, but when he and the newspaper parted ways a few years later, he "had to give that up," he said. In 2005, he found a new home for the film club at the Emelin, where he's been ever since. "I enjoyed doing it [at the Burns], and felt like there was a definite market for a program like this elsewhere in Westchester," Fine said.

Active members: 260

Time and day of meetings: 7:30 p.m. select Wednesdays; six films per season

Seasons active: Winter, spring, fall; winter season begins Feb. 6 and ends March 20

Are tickets available through subscription, walk-up or both? Subscription

Cost: $129 for six sessions

Is the next season sold out? The club "has been sold out since it started," according to Fine.

Past guests: Award-winning actors Kevin Costner, Penélope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, Edward Burns and South Salem's own Stanley Tucci have been among the Emelin Film Club's guest speakers.

Why the host likes movies: "Movies allow you to get out of your own head and escape to a world you otherwise might never get to visit," Fine said. "They illustrate and illuminate our lives with an immediacy of no other medium, even as they capture and document moments of life and history forever. There's nothing more exciting that being swept up unexpectedly in a story or a character and plunged into that world for a couple of hours."

Info: Emelin Film Club, Emelin Theatre, 153 Library Lane, Mamaroneck; 914-698-0098; www.emelin.org

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