IRVINE — Forget the buttered popcorn, Coke and Raisinets: Eating is not permitted in the new Film and Video Center at UC Irvine. But Orange County cinephiles will get their fill of films--and it won't be the bill of fare found at the local multiplex.
The 389-seat theater, boasting sophisticated 35-millimeter, 16-millimeter and video projection equipment, opens tonight with a 7 o'clock showing of "Family Viewing," a 1987 Canadian film directed by Atom Egoyan.
It's the first in a nine-part Saturday evening film series that ranges from Sergei Eisenstein's "Alexander Nevsky" (USSR, 1938) to Robert Wise's "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (USA, 1951).
Next, the Jewish Film Festival, a six-part series exploring Yiddish film and video-making, begins at the center at 7 p.m. Thursday with director Rich Pontius' "The Yiddish Cinema" (USA, 1991) and Sidney Goldin and Ivan Abramson's "East and West" (Austria, 1923).
The Film and Video Center, in the new Humanities Instructional Building, was the longtime dream of Linda Williams, a film studies professor who left UCI last spring for a job at UC Berkeley.
"It was her ardent campaign that led to it being funded," said Ann Friedberg, the center's director. "As an Orange County resident, she wanted to expand the offerings of--and the diversity of--films available to see in Orange County."
Said Patricia Levin, the center's assistant director: "It was Linda's dream to have a place where 35-millimeter films could be projected as they're supposed to be and as a place to bring the best of classic cinema, independent cinema, avant-garde cinema and historical cinema."
Friedberg, an associate professor of film studies, said the center offers the first 35-millimeter screening space on campus. (The UCI Film Society, which meets in Crystal Cove Auditorium, screens only 16-millimeter prints.)
"We have a beautiful theater, with banked seating, so every seat has a good sight line," said Friedberg.
In addition to the 35-millimeter and 16-millimeter capability, Friedman said, the center's system can project video in much the same way as film is projected. It "does a fabulous job of making the image as luminous as film," she said.
Before leaving UCI, Williams programmed the Film and Video Center's first two series.
Tonight's "Family Viewing" screening is part of the "My Favorite Film" series, in which a UCI faculty member or administrator selected a film that he or she will introduce to the audience.
Executive Vice Chancellor Sidney Golub chose "Alexander Nevsky," for example, while Juan Bruce-Novoa, a professor of Spanish and Portuguese, chose "The Day the Earth Stood Still." And Sally Stein, a professor of art history, selected director Rouben Mamoulian's 1957 musical "Silk Stockings," starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse.
The nine selections, Friedman said, make for a diverse mix.
"What you can say about these films is that some of them are official masterpieces, but some are personally obsessive favorites," said Friedman, who will introduce her own favorite, director Chris Marker's 1982 French film "Sans Soleil." ("It's an essay that's really about modernity and the power of image," she said.)
Levin, a doctoral candidate in visual studies/art history who has worked as a curator at the Long Beach Museum of Art, will program many of the upcoming series.
She describes the first two as relatively conservative.
"I expect to do some very cutting-edge programs," she said.
On tap is "Out on Screen," a program of gay, bisexual and transgender films and video. Other offerings will include post-colonial Korean cinema, contemporary Mexican cinema, Asian-American film and video and eroticism.
"It's really that kind of programming that we'll be doing in the future that will become the marker of the kind of media arts center that I see us becoming," said Levin.
* To reach the Film and Video Center, take West Peltason Road (formerly Bridge Road) to Mesa Road and park in Lot 7. $6; $4 for seniors, UCI students, faculty and staff. (714) 824-7418.