published Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Film lovers in for a rich summer of programs

Last weekend, "The Avengers" broke box office records for the opening weekend of a film. In July, the hotly-anticipated "The Dark Knight Rises," the third of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, will be released. For those who want to go big and bold at the cinema, summertime is the right time.

For those who prefer their screenings a bit smaller and more, perhaps, cerebral, some local venues and organizations are offering more independent, fringe and even locally made films for your viewing pleasure.

Heritage House, 1428 Jenkins Road, 855-9474 July 7, 7 p.m. Free.

Open screen nights at Heritage House feature the short film works of local film makers.

"We want to get the local [filmmakers] an audience," said Chris Holley, director of Heritage House.

The next screening will take place on July 7, followed by another on Sept. 22. At each event, the audience will choose their favorites and those will be screened this December at the Rave Motion Pictures in East Ridge.

The screenings give audiences an opportunity to see the talents of their neighbors. Since many of the people who come to the screenings are filmmakers themselves, Holley said, the open screen nights can open the door for collaborations.

Back Row Film Series, locations vary, next screening at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St., June 21, 6 p.m., 267-1218, $10.

Created in 2005, the Back Row film series is a program created by the Arts and Education Council of Chattanooga.

"What makes the Back Row Film Series stand out is that it's very interactive," said AEC spokesperson Laurel Eldrige. "We like to have a local hook that ties the film or the program to Chattanooga, either through a person or if the film deals with issues we are dealing with in Chattanooga."

The next screening is being presented in partnership with the Shaking Ray Levi Society. "Basically Frightened: The Musical Madness of Colonel Bruce Hampton."

"He's kind of the jam band household name that people outside the music industry may not have heard of," Eldrige said.

Atlanta-based director Michael Koepenik will be on hand for a Q&A following the film. Local artist and musician Dennis Palmer appears in the film. Tickets are $10.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 3D, Carmike Majestic Theatre, June 5, 7:30 p.m., $12.

The Arts and Education Council's Independent Film Series, "no longer exists in the same format it once did," said Eldridge. The concept has been replaced by intermittent special events at the Majestic.

One such special event is a screening of "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" in 3D. At least, that's the hope. The screening is a collaborative effort between the AEC and Austin-based Tugg Entertainment. In order for the event to actually take place, at least 80 people have to buy advance tickets. Once the audience commits, Tugg takes care of the rest. If at least 80 people do not buy tickets by May 30, the event will be canceled.

Directed by acclaimed documentarian Werner Herzog, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" is the story about the Chauvet Cave, which contains some of the earliest known cave paintings, in Southern France.

Jewish Film Festival, Jewish Cultural Center, 5461 North Terrace Road, 493-0270, Wednesdays, 7 p.m., Wednesday-June 20, $5 per person.

The films in the Jewish Film Series have a universal appeal regardless of religious background, said Jewish Cultural Center spokeswoman Ann Treadwell. "Many of the issues brought up in the films, although they're Jewish themed may not be Jewish specific."

One film, "Anita," follows a young woman with Down Syndrome. Another, "A Matter of Size," puts obesity at the forefront.

The films are diverse, said Treadwell -- this year, 5 films represent 3 countries.

"People assume that because it's a Jewish film series, the films are either in English or Hebrew, but this year there's one in Spanish, the first one is in German, there are two in English and one in Hebrew. The diversity issue is really important to us."

A screening committee pre-screens the films to check for quality. They chose films based on what some larger cities are doing with their own Jewish film festivals. "We screen everything before it's selected."

Hunter Museum of American Arts, 10 Bluff View, 267-0968, www.huntermuseum.org.

The Hunter Museum often incorporates special programming to complement their featured exhibits and permanent collection.

On Thursday, to accompany the smashing photography exhibit "Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography," a screening of the 1991 film, "The Doors" will be presented. The exhibit features an iconic painting of lead singer Jim Morrison, portrayed in the film by actor Val Kilmer.

In the fall, the documentary "Press Pause Play: Creativity in the Age of Technology" will be screened.

"It's the coolest film about the way technology has affected the arts, set in the most broad way," said Hunter's curator of Education, Adera Causey.

The screenings are included with the $9.95 general admission price.

The Mise En Scenesters.

According to their Facebook page, facebook.com/mesfilmclub, the Mise En Scenesters are a "film club dedicated to screening obscure, classic, arthouse and genre films."

The group is made up of both filmmakers and film enthusiasts. In an email, MES member Chris Dortch said the group has recently launched partnerships with the Chattanooga Film Society and a bi-monthly arts and culture magazine, Pork & Mead.

This summer, MES will present several screenings. "Summer Spewkies Part 1" features the British horror film "The Innocents." It takes place May 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the downtown library. This program is free.

They are also planning a series about alien beings and alien invasion and another about youth in turmoil. Both series, taking place on June 14 and 15, will feature live music. The June 14 program is at Collective Clothing in St. Elmo, the June 15 at Barking Legs Theatre on Dodds Avenue. Both events begin at 8:30 p.m. and cost $5 apiece.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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