Arts | UCR Culver Center of the Arts Film Screenings
By: Ashley Solis
Photo Credit: James Spencer
Let us whisk you away to a gem of a screening room in historic downtown Riverside. Although we appreciate mainstream blockbuster movies every once in a while, it’s the one-of-a-kind films that are shown at UCR Culver Center of the Arts that really spark our interest. The Culver Center, located at University of Riverside, not only includes a foreign and an independent film program that we love, but it also is home to numerous exhibitions, installations and performances. We were fortunate enough to be invited to catch the documentary Hoop Dreams on a chilly Saturday evening in November.
As we walked the small distance to the theatre, we were greeted by trees wrapped in white lights surrounded by numerous places to stop for dinner or to shop for vintage items. Once we arrived at the theatre and got a glimpse of the inviting lobby, we knew we were going to enjoy our evening. We made our way to the intimate 75-seat film screening room. Once seated, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the filmmaker of Hoop Dreams was there—the visionary himself, Frederick Marx. Marx introduced the film he created over 20 years ago and briefly described his inspiration for the film. He then informed the audience that he would be present for Q&A at the end . . . we couldn’t wait to hear his insight following the screening!
The film Hoop Dreams follows two African American high school basketball players, William Gates and Arthur Agee, for over a four year period, while investigating issues of race, class and education in America. Gates and Agee live in the projects of Chicago, Illinois. The teens are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois—a largely white high school with an exceptional basketball program. The documentary was fascinating and heartbreaking, following the sometimes painful journey of these young, aspiring athletes.
Once the film concluded, Marx spent over 30 minutes answering questions from the audience. To have the opportunity to get into the filmmakers head was remarkable. He discussed the entire filmmaking process including planning, challenges he faced, and how he was able to connect with the boys and their families. Marx, who is still in touch with both Gates and Agee, explained where the two men were today and what they have accomplished in their lives.
If you are interested in enjoying a similar experience at the Culver Center, check out their upcoming films for 2015. On December 26 and 27 you can catch a screening of the concert film, Bjork: Biophilia Live. Bjork is one of those performers whose voice and music will take you to an alternate mental state. Her alternative rock, electronic, baroque-pop style is one that you can truly become immersed in. The film was recorded at Bjork’s show at London’s Alexandra Palace in 2013. If an old film is more your style, check out Harold Lloyd: Speedy. This was comedian Harold Lloyd’s last silent film. The appealing black and white feature was released in 1928, but is back on the silver screen on December 31st. The film depicts an optimistic young man (Lloyd) whose fixation with baseball leads to the loss of jobs. The film includes New York’s most famous sights as they were in 1928. Experience the metropolitan journey as it visits the attractions, sounds and people of New York in the late 1920s.
Culver Center of the Arts screens some of the most fascinating and relevant films that you will not find in corporate theaters. By allowing guests that chance to have a personalized connection with the films, like we had meeting the filmmaker, Culver Center of the Arts is helping to strengthen the culture of Inland SoCal’s art scene. Overall, we were impressed by the level of sophistication and intimacy we experienced at the Culver Center. Don’t take our word for it . . . you’ve got to see it for yourself.
Culver Center screens films on Fridays, Saturdays and occasionally on Thursdays. Matinees are at 3p.m. and evening films are at 7p.m. Admission for matinee is $8 and evening showings are $9.99. Student admission is $5. Free parking.