Midwest Theater returns to its roots with 35mm film programming - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Midwest Theater returns to its roots with 35mm film programming

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Nearly a year after converting to digital projection, the Midwest Theater is revering back to a decades-old practice of film.

"We're going to be presenting film, on film. As it should be, in my opinion," said Billy Estes, Executive Director of the Midwest Theater. 

Estes says after the Theater converted to digital last summer, the Board of Directors felt it was still important to preserve the history of the Midwest Theater, and the type of film presentation that had been in practice nearly 50 years ago.

Thus, movie-goers and film-lovers are in for special treat this summer, as the theater is unveiling 'Celluloid Cinema,' an ode to the older days of 35mm film.

"We invite people to come out an experience what film has been for all these years," Estes said. "I think it gives us a way to look back at our past, but still embrace it in the future as we go forward."

Two reel-to-reel projectors have been installed in the booth, and will screen movies just like were many years ago.

"And to my knowledge, the other thing that makes this special for us at the theater, is there is only one other theater that has the capability, or uses the capability, rather, and that's the Mary Riepma Media Arts Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. So for us to be able to do this in western Nebraska, let alone any community, is pretty awesome to me," Estes said.
The art of projecting 35mm film isn't only unique in its visual display, but also in the way projectionists have to load and play the reels.

Estes says there are about nine different reels for a single movie, with roughly 17 minutes of film on each reel.

"So we will be making those reel changes with the dots along the movie. Anyone who knows about film prior to the 1980's knows about change-over frame dots," Estes said.

Steven Spielberg's 1977 Oscar-winning film "Close Encounters of a Third Kind" will be the first 35mm film to play for the 'Celluloid Cinema.'

"I was able to secure a really good print of it," Estes said. "Its the Director's Cut 35th Anniversary, so its been out for about two years now. This particular print has about 25 to 30 screenings on it, so its really crystal clear."

The movie will screen on June 21, at 7:30 p.m.

"It seemed like a good film to show during the summer time, the longest day of the year, and there's always those stories around the solstice, and connecting with other aliens or life forms, and it's one of my favorite films," Estes said.

Estes said the movie is symbolic in that it will also be a 'new encounter' for the staff at the Midwest.

"It'll be a big day in the history of the Midwest Theater. None of us have ever done it before, its a new encounter for us as the staff, to re-encounter something we used to do in the building fifty years ago. Its a way for us to encounter something new, in an old space ."

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