Movie theaters across the country are temporarily shut down, but movie lovers are finding creative ways to come together to celebrate the magic of cinema and the power of community.
Under the tagline “movies to watch together while we’re apart,” the American Film Institute (AFI) has launched the AFI Movie Club. Each day, AFI staff will spotlight an iconic American movie; they’ll provide information on how audiences can screen the movie at home, a special celebrity introduction, fun facts and exclusive content from the AFI archive. They will also host online discussions on the Movie Club’s Facebook page and at #AFIMovieClub.
The Club launched with the perennial rainbow classic “The Wizard of Oz” introduced by Steven Spielberg. Subsequent offerings have included “Moulin Rouge” (introduced by Morgan Freeman), “Snow White” (hosted by Candice Bergen), “Some Like It Hot” (Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford), “Dr. Strangelove” (Robert DeNiro) and the camp classic “The Devil Wears Prada” (Cynthia Erivo).
Details on the AFI Movie Club can be found at afi.com/movieclub. Membership is free but does not include rental or purchase of the movies; movies are selected by the members of AFI.
HBO is launching #StayHomeBoxOffice. A variety of movies, documentaries and series will be available for free without a subscription through HBO GO and HBO NOW. The television offerings include all five seasons of the ground-breaking queer series “Six Feet Under” as well as the complete runs of “The Sopranos,” “Veep” “The Wire,” “Succession” and “Ballers.”
Locally, several movie theaters are offering virtual programming that will support independent filmmakers and community cinemas.
Programming at the AFI Silver Virtual Screening Room includes the gay coming-of-age story “And Then We Danced,” the lavender classic “Doña Flor and Her Two Husbands,” the amazing documentary “Fantastic Fungi” and best of the beloved CatVideoFest.
The AFI Silver programming staff has also launched a new weekly podcast called “Silver Streams.”
JxJ has postponed its annual festival but is reaching out to patrons with a Virtual Cinema. Current offerings include “Slay the Dragon,” a powerful documentary about gerrymandering; “Leaps of Faith;” “Love in Suspenders” and “Those Who Remained.”
In addition to a special “Flick of the Week” (with a free-wheeling Zoom discussion) and a fabulous Virtual Storytelling sessions (complete with ASL), Old Greenbelt Theatre is offering a great slate of virtual movies including the searing dramas “Bacurau” and “Saint Frances.”
The SNF Parkway Theatre in Baltimore (mdfilmfest.com) and the Angelika Theatres are also going virtual with great indie film offerings.