The Asheville Film Society Takes Flight

The Asheville Film Society Takes Flight-attachment0

The idea of a local film society has been flying around for years, but for one reason or another, it has never gotten off the ground. Now – in part due to the response to the Thursday Horror Picture Show – the Asheville Film Society is finally a reality. The AFS is being set up by Carolina Cinemas’ Bill Banowsky as a nonprofit organization that will also include the participation of other local independent theaters. And, yes, a certain Mountain Xpress movie critic has agreed to serve as artistic director.

Some of the details are still being worked out, but the goal of the AFS is fairly simple. The AFS mission statement is as follows:

To celebrate films.
To honor filmmakers and recognize their achievements in filmmaking.
To educate about the role of film in today’s world.
To promote the city of Asheville and its commitment to film appreciation and filmmaking.

And of course, the AFS will be watching films – a lot of films – a cross-section of film from every era up to and including the present. This is meant to be a community resource with input from locals. Ideally, it will also pick up on worthy films that didn’t play here in their original release for whatever reason – or films that failed to draw the audience they might have. One aspect of this is very similar to what is being done with the Thursday Horror Picture Show. In other words, movies will be shown in the Cinema Lounge of the Carolina Asheville Cinema weekly – on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. As with the THPS, the films will be free to the public. The other difference, of course, is that they won’t be confined to horror.

But there’s more. The AFS will also be hosting special-event movies and other functions that will be available at a discounted rate to members who help support the AFS by buying a yearly subscription, which will be available starting May 25. The membership will also serve to earn discounts on movie tickets. The premiere event will be Friday, May 28, with a special AFS screening of the new film The Square from filmmakers Nash and Joel Edgerton, who have been favorably compared to the Coen Brothers by a number of reviewers – and there’s definitely something to the comparison in the neo-noir tone of The Square. The special AFS screening of the film will be followed by an AFS kickoff reception for AFS members and guests.

In order to recruit viewers and members, the AFS will host a free screening of the Coens’ first film, Blood Simple (1984), at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25, in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina Asheville.

More information and a list of the first set of Tuesday night AFS screenings will be included in this week’s “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room.”

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

46 thoughts on “The Asheville Film Society Takes Flight

  1. Film Goer

    What happened to the old Cinematique and the folks involved in it?

  2. Ken Hanke

    What happened to the old Cinematique and the folks involved in it?

    Don’t ask me. That was before my time.

  3. davidf

    Awesome.

    Well, Ken. I think it may be time to catch up with THE FALL.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Ah . .how soon they forget the pioneers . . .

    It’s hard to remember that which you never experienced.

  5. Ken Hanke

    It seems congratulations are in order, Ken.

    Thank you. I’m really hoping this works out for everyone. Though I’m tagged as “artistic director,” I’m hoping for — and going to need — input from the filmgoing community. I should also note — in the interest of full disclosure — that I will (in theory) ultimately receive some kind of remuneration for my work, so this (unlike the Thursday Horror Picture Show) is only partly altruistic. A lot of it, I will say, is simply for the love of movies, however.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Well, Ken. I think it may be time to catch up with THE FALL.

    I’ve thought the same thing — and as I said I want input. We’re in the process of batting around the first four films — the first four after Blood Simple this coming Tuesday — and those will be announced probably later today, or certainly by the next “Screening Room.”

    Other updates will be forthcoming, as well. One thing I can add right now is that we will (possibly by this week’s horror movie) have sign-up sheets for our newsletter. These will certainly be at the screenings (both AFS and THPS), but I’m not sure where else these will be available just yet. There’s a website under construction — I’ll keep you posted — and, of course, you can always contact me with your particulars for the e-mailing list at xpressmovies@aol.com

    More to come.

  7. Chip Kaufmann

    Unlike previous attempts at starting a film society in Asheville since Cinematique ceased to operate, let’s hope that the AFS has more than a fighting chance (irony intended) to succeed. Now that the AFF is on hiatus, the city needs something to satisfy filmlovers so forget past attempts and let’s get behind this thing.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Good lord, Ken – you’re turning into some kind of Ashevillian Cinematic PT Barnum!

    I like to keep busy. But I’d rather think of myself as a cinematic Florenz Ziegfeld. Girls descending staircases have a better image than that projected by Mr. Barnum.

  9. Dread P. Roberts

    Congratulations, and thank you, to everyone involved in getting this project off the ground. I really hope it is successful. This is a great time for a film lover to live in Asheville! …Now if only I can manage the time to be involved in all these wonderful moviegoing offerings.

    Blood Simple is a fantastic start!

    Well, Ken. I think it may be time to catch up with THE FALL

    I knew someone would say this. True is, at this point in time Ken, how could you possibly not use this opportunity to screen The Fall, and get us all off your back? Of course, it would be kind of sad, because that would put an end to the mild harassment.

  10. Dread P. Roberts

    Does the Carolina have the means of showing any screenings in blu-ray by any chance? It doesn’t really matter, but The Fall is one of those films that really pops on blu-ray. The contrast between the somewhat drab ‘reality’, and the bright, vivid colors in the fantasy world, bring an extra depth that you don’t see in all blu-rays. Tetro is a pretty amazing blu-ray too.

    Speaking of which, I hereby formally submit my recomendation to screen Tetro. I imagine that all of those people who are kicking themselves for missing it on the big-screen, would be very happy to have the second chance.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Congratulations, and thank you, to everyone involved in getting this project off the ground.

    I thank you on behalf of everyone.

    I really hope it is successful

    We will do our level best to make it one.

    Does the Carolina have the means of showing any screenings in blu-ray by any chance?

    I believe so, Justin could tell us for sure.

    Speaking of which, I hereby formally submit my recomendation to screen Tetro.

    And a most excellent recommendation it is.

  12. Justin Souther

    Does the Carolina have the means of showing any screenings in blu-ray by any chance?

    I believe so, Justin could tell us for sure.

    The Lounge does for sure. I believe the same goes for any of the regular houses, assuming this grows beyond the size of the lounge.

  13. Dread P. Roberts

    The Lounge does for sure. I believe the same goes for any of the regular houses, assuming this grows beyond the size of the lounge

    Whenever I have the opportunity to come, if you guys would like, I would be more than willing to bring a blu-ray copy (if I own it, of course) of whatever you guys would like to screen. Even if I can’t make it, perhaps I could loan a copy of something at an earlier time, prior to the screening. I’m just throwing the offer out there – I know you guys probably have other means (like Orbit DVD) of acquireing films that you don’t already have/own.

    I also have The Brothers Bloom on blu-ray, and I (regretfully) never got to see it on the big screen. But I understand that part of the point of this is to show somewhat older flims, which is great.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Whenever I have the opportunity to come, if you guys would like, I would be more than willing to bring a blu-ray copy (if I own it, of course) of whatever you guys would like to screen. Even if I can’t make it, perhaps I could loan a copy of something at an earlier time, prior to the screening. I’m just throwing the offer out there – I know you guys probably have other means (like Orbit DVD) of acquireing films that you don’t already have/own.

    Marc (Orbit) has already agreed to provide things I don’t have on my shelf (and I still haven’t gone Blu-ray [I leave it to Justin to tell you all it will take for me to take the plunge]). In fact, he’s providing Blood Simple, but I don’t know if he has either Tetro or The Fall in Blu-ray. So we may call on you — especially since I’m seriously considering Tetro for our last film in June.

    I also have The Brothers Bloom on blu-ray, and I (regretfully) never got to see it on the big screen.

    I’ll keep that in mind.

    But I understand that part of the point of this is to show somewhat older flims, which is great

    Not entirely, as witness the idea of Tetro, though I realize it’s a special case of a movie that kinda got away from most people. The Brothers Bloom drew pretty well here, but someday…

  15. Ken Hanke

    OK, we’ve got the month of June under control. And here — bare bones — is how it shapes up –

    Rushmore (1998, Wes Anderson) June 1
    The Times of Harvey Milk (1984, Rob Epstein) June 8
    Manhattan (1979, Woody Allen) June 15
    Twentieth Century (1934, Howard Hawks) June 22
    Tetro (2009, Francis Ford Coppola) June 29

    There’ll be more information about these titles in this week’s “Screening Room.”

  16. Dread P. Roberts

    That looks like a nice lineup, though I’ve only seen Rushmore and Tetro.

    In regards to The Fall, I have an interesting suggestion that I’d like to just throw out there. If you guys do want to screen it sometime in the future, perhaps you could do a Tuesday screening of it, immediately followed by a Thursday horror picture show screening of Tarsem Singh’s other film – the hauntingly bizarre The Cell.

    If it was me, I would correspond the week of these screenings with the opening of Inception (July 16th) – given the possible plot correlation of entering the human mind through dream invasion. Granted, the two films are obvisouly not made in the same tone and style, by very different directors, but still.

  17. Ken Hanke

    That looks like a nice lineup, though I’ve only seen Rushmore and Tetro

    Well, the last is your fault anyway. I’ll explain the rationale behind the choices in the “Screening Room.”

    In regards to The Fall, I have an interesting suggestion that I’d like to just throw out there. If you guys do want to screen it sometime in the future, perhaps you could do a Tuesday screening of it, immediately followed by a Thursday horror picture show screening of Tarsem Singh’s other film – the hauntingly bizarre The Cell.

    I saw about half of The Cell under circumstances that were not conducive to watching it (or anything). I’d need to see it properly, but it’s an idea that’s certainly well worth considering. (Of course, I’m going to have to see The Fall before the actual screening in order to write about it.)

    If it was me, I would correspond the week of these screenings with the opening of Inception (July 16th) – given the possible plot correlation of entering the human mind through dream invasion

    I think the problem with this is that the flyer for the THPS for that week is already done. Not sure on that, though. Justin’s more up in that area than I am.

  18. but I don’t know if he has either Tetro or The Fall in Blu-ray. So we may call on you—especially since I’m seriously considering Tetro for our last film in June.

    I have both, and THE FALL looks spectacular on blu-ray.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I have both, and THE FALL looks spectacular on blu-ray

    Well, there you go. Obviously, I’ll be tapping you on Tetro. The Fall probably in July — unless Mr. Dread can convince me to hold off and pair it with The Cell in August.

  20. We’re fully behind this and am going to do what we can as far as product and advertising. This is something that I know Ken and I have talked about for years. Congrats on finally getting it started!

    Owning a video store, we come across hundreds of films that missed the local theaters but are rental hits and are worthy of a screening. There are too many to mention but I nominate Lindsay Anderson’s IF…

  21. Ken Hanke

    We’re fully behind this and am going to do what we can as far as product and advertising.

    And this is appreciated no end.

    I nominate Lindsay Anderson’s IF…

    It hasn’t been terribly long since World Cinema ran that, but that’s not a reason to never run it again. I’d be inclined to run the whole trilogy — maybe one a month.

  22. Dread P. Roberts

    The Fall probably in July—unless Mr. Dread can convince me to hold off and pair it with The Cell in August.

    It’s not that big of a deal, really. I just like to pair things up, and I think that Tarsem Singh is one of those directors that kind of has a unique enough style, that it might be cool to watch his two films within a similar timeframe – which I’ve never done before. It’s mainly just the artistic beauty of the cinematography, and (if memory serves) the way he films it, that would tie the two movies together. Aside from that, they’re really different animals altogether.

  23. Ken Hanke

    It’s not that big of a deal, really. I just like to pair things up, and I think that Tarsem Singh is one of those directors that kind of has a unique enough style, that it might be cool to watch his two films within a similar timeframe – which I’ve never done before

    Well, like I said, it could be done in August. It’s not a problem and it sounds like a good crossover idea.

  24. Ken Hanke

    How long until you screen TOMMY?

    There are no immediate plans for it. I’m kind of hoping that new, restored Quintophonic 35mm print that’s being fun on Friday in L.A. (which I was invited to, but couldn’t pull off) is the harbinger of a Blu-ray release.

  25. davidf

    Oh man. If THE FALL has to wait til August, I hope it’s earlier August before I get wrapped up in beginning grad school in Boone. I’m in Brasstown now, and the distance will keep me from going to as many of these as I’d like, but my travel plans will be much more flexible this summer. I’d just kick myself if, of all of these amazing screenings, I miss THE FALL. It would be nice to revisit THE CELL again, though. I think I’m more excited about Tarsem Singh’s upcoming IMMORTALS more than almost any other future film.

  26. Ken Hanke

    If THE FALL has to wait til August, I hope it’s earlier August before I get wrapped up in beginning grad school in Boone

    Well, there’s no reason it couldn’t be. I keep trying to make it abundantly clear that I want us to be as responsive as possible to the audience. While, yes, I want this to be a chance to expose people to movies and filmmakers they might otherwise never encounter, I also want it to have strong audience involvement. And there’s nothing that says that the people in charge won’t benefit by being exposed to things they might otherwise never encounter.

  27. davidf

    “And there’s nothing that says that the people in charge won’t benefit by being exposed to things they might otherwise never encounter.”

    The great thing about screening a film like THE FALL is that probably NO ONE here has experienced it on a big screen because it never got proper distribution. It pretty much went straight to DVD.

    Some other films that I’d love to see on the large scale and never had the opportunity: Simon Pummell’s BODYSONG, Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, PAPRIKA (which I’ve never seen at all), Del Toro’s THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (which I’ve also never seen), Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES…

  28. Dread P. Roberts

    Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE

    Good lord, not this again. (inside joke)

    PAPRIKA (which I’ve never seen at all), Del Toro’s THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (which I’ve also never seen)

    Paprika was fantastic on the big screen, and I was very happy that I saw it when it was at the Fine Arts; but there doesn’t seem to be that big a draw for this type of movie around here. I could be wrong, it’s just the impression that I’ve gotten. If there was going to be an anime movie being screened, I personally would LOVE to see Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke on the big screen. It might be a little more accessible to audiences. (Whenever you see the fantastic Paprika, then trust me, you’ll understand what I mean by that.)

    I second Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. Great movie, but what night would it be shown on? His movies blend so many different genre’s together, that It’s hard to pinpoint what audience to show it to.

    Either way, I highly recommend that you see both of these fantastic movies.

  29. Ken Hanke

    The great thing about screening a film like THE FALL is that probably NO ONE here has experienced it on a big screen because it never got proper distribution.

    And that’s part of the idea, though do bear in mind that the Cinema Lounge screen is not huge. Oh, it’s a lot bigger than seeing it at home on even a big screen TV, but it’s not full theater size. Of course, it has been suggested that we might be able to occasionally commandeer one of the smaller auditoriums if demand for seating is high enough. We’ve managed so far — and I like the Lounge — but it’s been pretty near a couple times.

    Some other films that I’d love to see on the large scale and never had the opportunity: Simon Pummell’s BODYSONG, Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, PAPRIKA (which I’ve never seen at all), Del Toro’s THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (which I’ve also never seen), Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES…

    I don’t know Bodysong and I’m not 100% sure we’re going to find too many people who are up for the length and impenetrability of Inland Empire (I found it alternately fascinating and infuriating). The others are good choices and distinct possibilities.

  30. Ken Hanke

    Paprika was fantastic on the big screen, and I was very happy that I saw it when it was at the Fine Arts; but there doesn’t seem to be that big a draw for this type of movie around here. I could be wrong

    Actually, it did surprisingly decent business at the Fine Arts. I’d seen it on a screener, but I went to the opening night anyway — specifically to see it on the screen — and it was close to a full house. I’d feel comfortable with it or possibly another of Satoshi Kon’s films.

    If there was going to be an anime movie being screened, I personally would LOVE to see Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke on the big screen

    Well, it’s a possibility, though it’s far from one of my favorites of his.

    I second Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. Great movie, but what night would it be shown on? His movies blend so many different genre’s together, that It’s hard to pinpoint what audience to show it to

    I think AFS. I think it might disappoint as horror and works better as a Bunuel-like art film. But it is a mighty fine work — even if it took me two viewings to warm up to it.

  31. Dread P. Roberts

    Well, it’s a possibility, though it’s far from one of my favorites of his.

    It’s not necessarily my all-time favorite either. My thought process was that I don’t think it played locally in theaters, unlike Spirited Away and Howles Moving Castle. I’ve never seen a Miyazaki movie that I didn’t like – and I believe I have seen every one that I can – so I’d be happy with any of them.

  32. Ken Hanke

    It’s not necessarily my all-time favorite either. My thought process was that I don’t think it played locally in theaters

    You make a good point and you may well be right. That’s from before I was in Asheville. I’d love to show Spirited Away and an early anime Alakazam the Great (even if in its Americanized version) which shares some similarities with it. Unfortunately, Alakazam is only on old VHS and video-on-demand.

  33. davidf

    “Good lord, not this again. (inside joke)”

    Hehe. I’m very aware that it would be hard to find a big enough audience that would get behind INLAND EMPIRE, but that’s exactly why I’m bothering to put in my vote, just so we can be aware of how big that audience might be. I for one think it would be much more entertaining to watch with a group than at home all by my lonesome. So here I am, experimentally putting it out there to see if any other voices crawl out of the wilderness to form a large enough audience to warrant a screening. I’ll certainly understand if my experiment fails.

  34. Ken Hanke

    I’m very aware that it would be hard to find a big enough audience that would get behind INLAND EMPIRE, but that’s exactly why I’m bothering to put in my vote, just so we can be aware of how big that audience might be.

    A perfectly reasonable approach.

  35. cinephile

    I was very pleasantly surprised and very pleased when I read the notice about AFS in MountainX. Will be stopping by The Carolina tonight to sign up for the newsletter. Are you planning to concentrate on narrative films, or will you consider docs as well? I am so often disappointed to read reviews of excellent documentaries, knowing I will never get to see the majority of them on the big screen.

  36. Ken Hanke

    I was very pleasantly surprised and very pleased when I read the notice about AFS in MountainX. Will be stopping by The Carolina tonight to sign up for the newsletter.

    And it was a pleasure to meet you there — and, by the way, you are officially the first person to sign up.

    Are you planning to concentrate on narrative films, or will you consider docs as well?

    We will consider them, yes. In fact, we have one doc on tap for June. I do suspect, however, that they will be relatively rare — simply because they tend to be a hard sell with audiences. There may actually be more documentaries as special event films for AFS members. There is, in fact, something in the works in the near future on this score. For the moment, I can say no more.

  37. This is such good news…and we re fortunate to have such enthusiastic and knowledgable people to head this up. I’ll be there with bells on……wish I had some ruby slippers, but bells will have to do.

    Thank you, Ken!!!!

  38. Ken Hanke

    This is such good news…and we re fortunate to have such enthusiastic and knowledgable people to head this up. I’ll be there with bells on……wish I had some ruby slippers, but bells will have to do.

    Bells will do nicely. But now ruby slippers with bells — that would be something! So we can expect to see you on Tuesday for Blood Simple?

    Thank you, Ken!!!!

    Thank you, but there are others deserving of thanks, too — starting with the Carolina Asheville for giving us the venue and getting behind this. Justin Souther has also played a significant role and so has Orbit DVD and more names to come. Plus, there are all those folks who support the idea.

  39. john r

    On a slightly different note, is there some way we can express our appreciation to the theater for allowing us to use their facility for these filmings. I bought some items from the concession stand Thurs. night, but it might make more of an expression of thanks to let the theater know of our feelings of thanks.

  40. Ken Hanke

    On a slightly different note, is there some way we can express our appreciation to the theater for allowing us to use their facility for these filmings. I bought some items from the concession stand Thurs. night, but it might make more of an expression of thanks to let the theater know of our feelings of thanks.

    A good question — concession is certainly one way (I’ve noticed that the THPS audience buys a lot of concession) and it won’t go unnoticed, because it will be reflected in the revenue. I’m sure they have a website with a “contact us” area. Remember that they are a business, too, and probably the best way to demonstrate appreciation is to not forget them when the next big ticket movie comes out.

  41. Clara

    Thanks so much for getting this off the ground. Blood Simple was a great beginning. I saw it for the first time as the opening film at the first year of the Miami International Film Festival, and it still holds up.

    I’m so glad to see that you’re open to showing both more contemporary films and earlier classics. Looking down the road, it might be fun to schedule series: a screwball comedy series (Bringing Up Baby, My Man Godfrey, Holiday, The Lady Eve, for starters)? How about throwing in the occasional musical (seeing Swing Time on the big screen would be a treat)? Maybe a foreign classic from time to time?

    Looks like a good lineup for the rest of June. I’m planning on being there.

  42. Ken Hanke

    Looking down the road, it might be fun to schedule series: a screwball comedy series (Bringing Up Baby, My Man Godfrey, Holiday, The Lady Eve, for starters)?

    With only one film a week, I’m trying to figure out how to handles series presentations. I almost think that, say, four movie series (i.e., four screwball comedies or four mysteries, etc.) might be better done as Fri-Sat double features — maybe once a month. I don’t want to give a whole month over to any one thing if we can avoid it.

    But there will be more screwball comedies and there will musicals (including Swing Time) and there will be foreign films.

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