The Nite Owl

What is The Nite Owl? Imagine switching channels in the wee hours of the night, only to stumble onto a mysterious channel you’ve never seen before — one emanating sights and sounds which evoke feelings that are hard to put into words. Strange, yet alluring. Curious, yet entertaining. With The Nite Owl, The Cinefamily takes that ghostly broadcast experience and brings it to you on the big screen, within the confines of the collective unconscious known as cinema. So what is The Nite Owl? It’s an audio/visual speakeasy — a Coney Island of the Id. It’s whatever you find it to be.



Cinefamily Members-Only Potluck Dinner & Nite Owl Screening: "Dark Dreams"!

The spooky and strange from the depths of sleep!
10/19/2011 - 8PM

NOTE: This event is a Cinefamily members-only potluck — but members are welcome to bring as many of their friends as they would like. As well, it is indeed a potluck dinner; things like bags of chips and drinks are not encouraged — please bring a dish! Impress us!

This October, the Owl turns its eye to “Dark Dreams”, all things spooky and strange from the behind the wall of sleep. After dinner, we’ll tune into our primetime program, which includes vampire tales and visions of hell from experimental Japanese cinema, scarifying childrens’ PSAs, eerie animation, lessons in how-to-be terrified from Coffin Joe (Brazil’s legendary master of fright), TV commercials for New Jersey haunted houses, shot-on-Super 8mm teenage horrorshows, Vincent Price reciting Poe prose, nightmare-inducing New Wave music videos, fan-made no-budget Stephen King adaptations and excerpts from Vampir Cuadecuc, a remarkable avant-garde “making of” documentary of Jess Franco’s “Count Dracula”!

Watch an excerpt from “Vampir Cuadecuc”!
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Watch a spooky vintage British PSA!
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Cinefamily Members-Only Potluck Dinner + Little Fugitive (archival 35mm print!)

One of cinema’s most influential picaresque gems!
9/14/2011 - 7:30PM

NOTE: This event is a Cinefamily members-only potluck — but members are welcome to bring as many of their friends as they would like. As well, it is indeed a potluck dinner; things like bags of chips and drinks are not encouraged — please bring a dish! Impress us!

For our inaugural Nite Owl viewing session, we’re adopting September’s calendar theme of childhood, with a finely curated collection of rare short films and various video ephemera that will address the complicated mood mosaic that is youth. After the intermission, we’ll then screen the vastly important and highly fun Little Fugitive. Before Cassavetes, and before the French New Wave, there was this small miracle of a film — a low-budget, shot-without-sound, day-in-the-life portrait of a child that inadvertently started the global indie filmmaking movement. Far from Hollywood, Little Fugitive was born in ‘50s New York when a pair of married photographers (Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin) and a successful children’s book writer (Raymond Abrashkin) picked up a handheld 35mm camera and — without studio support or professional actors, but with an effortless blend of innovation and storytelling that has inspired filmmakers for generations — shot one of cinema’s most influential picaresque gems. Capturing childhood with humorous, compassionate lyricism, Little Fugitive follows an adorable little kid who, after his brother pulls a practical joke, goes on the lam to tough it out amidst the cotton candy and pony rides of Coney Island. It’s an undeniably timeless tale of sibling dynamics, but the proto-guerilla filmmaking techniques of the co-directors also capture the people and landscapes a long-gone Coney Island with such vivid documentary realism, you’ll swear you can smell the carnies.
Little Fugitive Dirs. Ray Ashley, Morris Engel & Ruth Orkin, 1953, 35mm, 80 min.

Watch the trailer for “Little Fugitive”!
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The Lost Art of Photo Films (feat. La Jetee & Chafed Elbows!)

Intoxicating cinema made entirely of still photography!
7/13/2011 - 8PM

There are times when what you remember most about a superlative film is a single indelible signature image — one supremely stark photograph which stands out in your mind for years afterwards as personal shorthand for an amazing cinematic experience. But what if the entire film was made up of such beautiful, intoxicating stuff? Known under various terms like photo-roman or ciné-roman, the “photo film” is comprised entirely of still images set to voiceovers, music and sound effects — creating a truly dreamlike cinematic space in which each successive frame unlocks an entire universe of possibilities. Tonight, we explore this magical, yet still-underused form with Chris Marker’s landmark La Jetée (the basis for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys and possibly the most haunting dystopic sci-fi vision of its era), a rare 35mm screening of Robert Downey, Sr.’s Chafed Elbows (the hilariously anarchic, visually agog ground-zero satire of the ‘60s Greenwich Village bohemian scene), a highlight reel of Hollywood’s use of the photo-roman and a heady bonus short subject!
Chafed Elbows Dir. Robert Downey, Sr., 1966, 35mm, 63 min. (35mm print courtesy of Anthology Film Archives with the support of The Film Foundation.)
La Jetée Dir. Chris Marker, 1962, digital presentation, 28 min.

Watch an excerpt from Robert Downey’s “Chafed Elbows”!

Watch an excerpt from Chris Marker’s “La Jetée”!

Watch George Lucas’s student film “Look At Life”!
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