If you ever missed out on taking a film history course in school, you might just be in luck.
To celebrate its 100th birthday, the Paramount Theatre will be kicking off a year-and-a-half-long film series. “Paramount 100: A Century of Cinema” begins tonight with an exploration of the silent films of the 1900s through the 1920s. It’s a new undertaking for the theater, which is well known for its summertime repertory film series.
“Doing a series like this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I just never really had a good reason to do it,” says Paramount film programmer Stephen Jannise. “Right after last year’s summer classics series, I started to realize that we have Paramount’s 100th birthday coming up in 2015, so I thought it would be a great reason for me to sort of jump start this Paramount100 series and do a chronological trip through film history.”
As the sole film programmer for the Paramount, Jannise is responsible for the content that will be projected.
“I’m kind of the whole film department here,” Jannise says. “I think the key thing is hitting the highlights and what we’re really trying to do is jump from one landmark to another. So when we show something like “Nosferatu” – which was kind of the beginning of German expressionist movement – we’re trying to hit moments like that that kind of had a key role in the history of movies.”
As a way of harkening back to the nickelodeon days of cinema, the Paramount will only charge 5 cents for admission to the opening screening, which includes silent classics “A Trip to the Moon” and “The Great Train Robbery.”
“I’ve kind of always been intrigued by this idea that in the very early day of movies people were able to pay 5 cents and kind of hang out all day in the theatre all day long,” Jannise says. “I thought it would be kind of fun because part of the reason we’re doing this is to celebrate the Paramount, which is sort of more of a historic movie palace, [and one way of doing so is] just for one night reverting back to the period of cinemas that came before that and just remember what that’s like.”
With the film series stretching into 2015, Jannise hopes it serves as an unofficial film history class for high school and college-aged students.
“I think what they’ll basically be getting is kind of a ‘Film 101’ experience but in a real theatre, a beautiful theatre like the Paramount. And no homework – just the fun parts.”