Middlebury Classic Film Club spotlights fall films

The Middlebury Community Classic Film Club is back in action this fall with another film series. After a summer hiatus, the club will once again meet in the Community Room of the Ilsley Library in Middlebury to bring people together each month to enjoy wonderful movies, great conversation, some pretty good chocolate chip cookies, coffee and popcorn. The first of the four films screens on Sept. 27 with the theme “Immigration and Migration.”
Steve Gross, founder of the club, and Chris Kirby, director of adult services and technology at the Ilsley, started the Classic Film Club last February.
“We decided that a classic film club would be a wonderful way of connecting movies of the past to issues of our times so we used the theme of ‘Politics Around the World’ for our winter-spring series,” Gross explained. “Starting with the Jimmy Stewart classic ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ we followed up with the great Greta Garbo in ‘Queen Christina.’ Our third film moved the focus to 1960s Indonesia with ‘The Year of Living Dangerously.’ For our final film of the season we saw ‘All the King’s Men,’ Robert Penn Warren’s fictional account inspired by the career of Louisiana’s Huey Long, a politician who Franklin Roosevelt called one of the two most dangerous men in America. Throughout the winter and spring screenings we had a great audience and really enjoyed one another’s company.”
The club took a summer vacation and pondered a fitting theme for the fall series.
“After a lot of reflection, conversations with friends, and a close eye on current events we decided on the theme ‘Immigration and Migration,” Gross said. “Whether we are thinking of the forced migration of African women and men who were kidnapped and stolen into slavery, the stories of Europeans who sought to escape poverty in their homelands or the experience of Central Americans who fled the violence in their countries only to take a dangerous journey to the U.S., immigration and migration are deeply American themes. They also reveal heated debates in our society at this very moment.”
Here are the films the club has selected:
“Amistad” on Sept. 27. Based on the famous Supreme Court trial of 1841, this film depicts the struggle of kidnapped African women and men to be free in the antebellum United States.
“The Emigrants” on Oct. 25. This award winning 1971 film starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow tells the story of 19th century Swedes desperate to escape the poverty of their homeland.
“El Norte” on Nov. 29. Fleeing the violence of the Guatemalan civil war, two refugees head north through Mexico to the United States. Their story reverberates powerfully in our own time.
“West Side Story” on Dec. 20. On the 100th anniversary of the birth of its composer Leonard Bernstein, this story raises the question of who is truly an American and how can we learn to live together. It’s also a wonderful tale of love, turbulence and tragedy.
Gross and the club are enthused to say the least. They want to open these movies to as many people as possible, so they’ve changed the start time of each film. This fall movies will begin at 6 p.m. (last season they started at 3 p.m.) There will still be the same lively discussion after each movie, and, yes, you can expect cookies, popcorn, coffee and friends.

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