The Great Neck Arts Center is kicking off its series of winter film screenings this week – a part of what arts center Executive Director Regina Gil described as her organization’s efforts to spur conversation about cinema.
“We’re providing audiences with a sneak peak at a film that has not been released yet or that has only been seen in a festival or elsewhere,” Gil said. “It’s about deepening your understanding and awareness of good film.”
The screenings, part of the arts center’s Furman Film Series, kick off Thursday, Nov. 21 with a showing of the Judi Dench and Steve Coogan vehicle “Philomena.” The screenings will take place at Great Neck’s Bow Tie Squire Cinemas on Middle Neck Road, and will be followed by audience conversations with members of each film’s production staff or film experts.
The goal of the series, Gil said, is to spur appreciation of and engagement with films not available at the neighborhood multiplex.
“If you’re looking for the next edition of Die Hard it’s not your series,” Gil said. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
“Philomena,” directed by English filmmaker Stephen Frears, tells the story of a mother, played by Dench, in search of a child she gave up for adoption decades earlier. The film has screened at the Venice, Toronto and BFI London film festivals, and the Nov. 21 screening is open to Furman Film Series subscribers.
Gil said the film is an Oscar contender and was selected in part due to its pickup by Harvey Weinstein’s film company.
“There are certain brand names that I deeply believe in and Harvey Weinstein is one of the,” Gil said. “He’s just got the most incredible taste.”
A Dec. 12 screening will feature “Just a Sigh,” a French film starring Gabriel Byrne and Emannuelle Devos.
Great Neck Arts Center Assistant Film Coordinator Katie Mancher described the film, a selection at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, as an unexpected romance.
“They meet by chance on a train,” Mancher said. “The whole thing takes place on this one day.”
And “Le Week-end,” starring Jim Broadbent, Lindsay Duncan and Jeff Goldblum, is booked for a Jan. 30 showing following its appearance at the New York Film Festival. The comedic drama is a reflection on a couple’s aging relationship as the visit Paris for the first time since their honeymoon.
“It sounds like a really wonderful, honest portrayal of a couple in this stage of life,” Mancher said.
Isabella Rossellini’s “The Zigzag Kid,” a selection at the New York Jewish Film Festival, is also booked for a screening with the date yet to be determined.
Through these showings, Gil said, Long Islanders can gain exposure to new films usually limited to art house screenings and film festivals in New York City.
“This film series is unique in Nassau County,” Gil said.