Jennifer Steinberg, Film Programmer
Deserves props for: Currently programming the documentary section of the Philadelphia Film Festival, moderating the discussion group Cinema Salon and holding film forums on subjects like opening credit sequences. Formerly for heading up the old Repertory Film mainstay the Temple Cinematheque, as well as the Roxy.
What did the repertory film scene used to be like?
"Through the '80s Philadelphia had two full-time repertory theaters. There was TLA on South Street, which Ray Murray and his partners ran. And there was the Cinematheque, which was Temple University's. We showed 280 films a year, all celluloid. That'd be difficult to do now, since 16 mm doesn't really get shown anymore."
It's quite expensive to show film.
"Yes. A film weighs 60 or 70 pounds, and to have it shipped is probably more than $100. And then you have to rent the film and pay the projectionist, so by the time you put the film on the screen, if it's celluloid, it's probably costing you $300. And unless you have a large enough audience, you can't make your money back. So the future of repertory, sadly--or maybe not--is digital."
What happened to the Temple Cinematheque?
"Temple sold the building. It once housed Ernie Kovacs' studio and The Mike Douglas Show. Now Brasserie Perrier is there. Sad but true."
What about the repertory scene today?
"There are people, like I-House and Jay Schwartz, showing film. But there's no continuity. When I used to show films, I'd show 40 Bergman films or every Kurosawa I could possibly find, in a series, and it would go on for months. Or we'd have a theme, like Fassbinder's women or artists on film. You can't show films contextually like that anymore. There's no venue for that. And that's a tragedy."
What about your Cinema Salon discussion group?
"Every week since 1997 we see a film of quality and discuss it at the Ethical Society. If anything could change the way people watch films, it's groups like this. I have people going to the film festival in Burkina Faso in Africa. That's the way to actually do it--on the grassroots level."
A Short History of...
Ben Kingsley, You Kill Me
Oliver Dahan, La Vie en Rose
Chris Eigeman, The Treatment
Mark Fergus, First Snow