08/30/04 — Library goes Hollywood

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Library goes Hollywood

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on August 30, 2004 1:57 PM

There's a new place in town for film lovers to see classic and offbeat movies, and it's free.

The Wayne County Library recently installed a surround-sound theater system in the Gertrude Weil Auditorium and is offering a variety of films.

"We wanted to try and offer an alternative to what's readily available at other theaters," said Roman Leary, film program coordinator for the library. "These will be films that you might never have a chance to see otherwise. They're something that's a little off the beaten track."

New theater

Weil auditorium with six-by-seven-foot screen.

A screen, projecting an image six feet wide and seven feet high, descends in the front of the darkened auditorium, and is soon illuminated by brilliant colors. The sound from the screen envelopes the room.

Amazingly, the sound doesn't carry past the auditorium doors, leaving the library serenely quiet for its reading patrons.

The $10,000 system was bought by the Friends of the Library last spring. A six-part documentary film series depicting life during the Roosevelt era was the first set of movies shown in the new theater.

But the films offered at the library will not just be educational, though Leary expects there to be tie-ins with local school programs.

A series of classic Sherlock Holmes films and a variety of Westerns have been shown.

In October, the library will show a number of Alfred Hitchcock films, with an introduction from Micah Harris, a professor from Pitt Community College.

Harris will also lead audience discussions after the Hitchcock films.

The schedule for the films will be set on a monthly basis because there are other activities booked each month for the auditorium.

"We can't say that we'll run the movies every Saturday, every month," Leary said. "We have to be flexible."

In September there are only three shows scheduled because of the variety of events booked.

The library has an agreement with a movie licensing company that allows it to show movies for an annual fee.

"It gives us blanket permission to show films from the big studios, like Universal, Columbia and Paramount," Leary said.

The one strange catch to the agreement is that the title of the film can't be advertised or announced publicly.

"If someone comes to the library or calls, we can tell them the title," Leary said. "And we're allowed to post it on our Web site, but nowhere else."

If, for example, the library showed the movie "The Lion King," it could announce an animated film about a lion that becomes a king, but the title couldn't be released.

Leary said that the studios inserted that provision to protect the profit of second-run theaters. These theaters offer movies for discount prices after they have finished their run at a full-price theater.

The library will soon get some comfortable chairs to place in the auditorium to give movie patrons more of a theater experience, Leary said.

For more information about the theater, call the library reference desk at 735-1824, extension 100.