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Still Bigger Than A Breadbox

Charlie Chaplin in City Lights

It may seem that movies are shrinking into something that people watch in bits and pieces on YouTube or on personal devices that you can hold in your hand. But the delight of communal movie viewing on screens bigger than any living room isn’t dead yet; in fact, this fall offers more choices than ever for the local filmgoer in search of cinematic options other than Hollywood star vehicles and reboots of horror movies that weren’t again to begin with.

Buffalo International Film Festival

The big news is the premiere edition of the Buffalo International Film Festival (not to be confused with the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival, which unspooled in May). After several years of gathering steam the BIFF is set to launch with three weeks of screenings and film-related events from October 9 through 27. The schedule is still being finalized, but BIFF director Edward Summer has announced a presentation by Charles Chaplin expert Frank Scheide, who will premiere two reels of outtakes from Chaplin’s masterpiece City Lights that have never been publicly shown; a screening of City Lights accompanied by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, in a live performance of Chaplin’s original score; a celebration of the opening of the Walt Disney Museum in Los Angeles with the premiere of a new documentary about Disney’s Latin American films; a screening of the four-hour version of Erich von Stroheim’s Greed, presented by the archivist who worked on the restoration of this legendarily lost film; and a Saturday matinee presented with a filmed appearance by science fiction legend Ray Bradbury, who will answer questions posed by Buffalo viewers. It looks to be an enormous event, and one Artvoice will cover in depth. You can also visit the Web site at

Buffalo Film Seminars

The festival will have programming every night except Tuesday, so as not to interfere with the new series of the Buffalo Film Seminars. UB professors Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian are back with another semester of their popular film studies class, opened to the general public at downtown’s Market Arcade Film and Arts Center. The seminars offer a selection of classic and foreign films in what may be your last chance ever to see them on the big screen, where they belong and the chance to discuss them with a congenial group of fellow cineastes.

Already in progress, this season offers Hollywood greats like Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra (September 8) and Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry (October 6); imports like the archetypal caper drama Rififi (September 22), and the first local screening of a film by Hungary’s acclaimed Bela Tarr, Werkmeister Harmonies (December 1); and movies with universal appeal like Mike Leigh’s delightful backstage story Topsy-Turvey (December 8). Screenings are Tuesday nights at 7pm. For more information visit

The Screening Room

If you’ve been to the Screening Room in the North Town Plaza, you know it’s a cozy place to view digitally projected films whose one drawback is an erratic schedule. After several years of planning, owner Bob Golibersuch is ready to open a second location at 5445 Transit Road in Clarence. This larger room—it will have about 45 seats—will be open every night, screening primarily indie and art films. The location will also include a coffeehouse and two smaller theaters that will be available for private rentals.

As for the original location, look for a week of horror films to celebrate Halloween during the last week of October. For weekly schedules visit

Squeaky Wheel

Among the area’s established alternative venues, Squeaky Wheel ( has a full schedule of media installations and workshops, displaying and enabling work in a range of visual formats. On Friday, September 11 Squeaky Wheel hosts an opening reception for Ithaca’s Megan Roberts-Ghirardo and Raymond Ghirardo and their new installation, Submerged Ghosts. Following the reception is a repeat of their summer Outdoor Animation Festival at sunset. October 9 brings this year’s edition of the touring program of the Ann Arbor Film Festival.


Film offerings scheduled for the multimedia art center Hallwalls ( include Guest of Cindy Sherman, a new documentary about the Hallwalls co-founder, on September 12 and 13; Broken Branches, Fallen Fruit, by local filmmaker Bill Jungels, about the forces driving natives out of the poverty-stricken Mexican state of Chiapas, on September 17; and more films in the ongoing celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Ways in Being Gay series.

Hamburg Palace Theater

Two venerable movie palaces to the north and south of the city continue to mix welcome alternates with more mainstream programming. At Hamburg’s Palace Theater (, the successful revival of The Rocky Horror Picture Show expands to include a full live cast for Halloween. A Laurel and Hardy festival this weekend includes “Sons of the Desert, “The Music Box,” and two surprise shorts. (Owner Jay Ruof is also trying to arrange an Our Gang festival.) October 10 brings the premiere of a locally made horror film appropriately titled Gore. And starting October 17 is the first of four monthly screenings of the new cult classic The Room, a must for anyone who thought the world would never again see the like of Edward D. Wood Jr.

Riviera Theater

North of the city, North Tonawanda’s glorious Riviera Theater, where the Mighty Wurlitzer organ gets a regular workout, ends its summer-long Paul Newman festival this Friday with a screening of The Sting followed by a Monte Carlo evening. Saturday is the latest edition of the popular Stoogefest, an evening of the best of Curly, Larry, and Moe. For future programs visit the theater’s website at

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60 Things You Must Do This Fall

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