Looking at cinema through a personal lens

Cameo Cinema co-ordinator Wendy Huot started the film-screening series to provide movie buffs with the same opportunity for networking and building community that lovers of other art forms enjoy.
Cameo Cinema co-ordinator Wendy Huot started the film-screening series to provide movie buffs with the same opportunity for networking and building community that lovers of other art forms enjoy.

For most of us, movie-going is a solitary experience—even in a theatre filled with people, going to the movies somehow lacks the social and critical perspectives that are central to concerts, art receptions and other cultural rendezvous.

Wendy Huot saw that as something worth changing in Kingston.

“I consider myself a movie person first—I enjoy music and books, but my primary passion is movies and movie-watching,” Huot said. “If you’re someone really into movies, short of a movie club, you don’t have that chance for social opportunity.”

With that in mind, Huot, who works as a librarian at Stauffer Library, started Cameo Cinema, a movie-screening series, last spring. The series has been showing free screenings of films and collections of shorts a few times a month at the Artel and Modern Fuel ever since.

“When I first moved to Kingston, I was happy to see that there were good movie theatres downtown. … But I found they didn’t provide enough opportunity to see interesting or alternative films, or classics, so I came up with the idea to have a movie-screening series,” she said.

Cameo Cinema got it’s name because it’s a movie series with a difference—individual curators select, present and introduce each event, communicating their love for the film.

“It’s a celebration of movies, the art and entertainment they provide, but it’s also a celebration of the enjoyment that comes from watching movies. It draws attention to the film viewer and movie fan,” Huot said. “I have people presenting movies they enjoy and they’re excited to advocate for the film and why an audience would enjoy watching it—which is not necessarily such an academic perspective.”

In a sense, the curators are making a cameo by introducing the film, participating in it and presenting the lens through which the audience will see the film.

“It’s a play on the idea of a movie cameo—someone who likes the movie gets up , and talks and performs and presents themselves in relationship to the film,” Huot said.

“One of the hopes is that it will be like the experience of being given someone’s personal mix tape—one or more films from a fan, from the personal experience of someone else. When you hear a music mix, you understand their relationship to the music by how they’ve combined the songs.”

Because the series is so new, there’s no formal process for the selection of screening curators, but Huot said she looks for people with a genuine interest in film as a medium, and with a specific film or films already in mind.

This Thursday, film studies student Wookie Wook will present selections from films about marriage—an hour-long episode from Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From A Marriage, and clips from Marriage of Maria Braun and Eyes Wide Shut. For Huot, Wook, who is the first academically-trained curator in the series, is a good example of someone who makes a Cameo presenter.

“[Bergman’s episode] is an hour of heartwrenching drama and disagreement; it’s very human. Wook is going to be coming from a place of sincere interest and personal enthusiasm,” Huot said. “That’s what I’m going for with the curators.” “I don’t want the screenings to seem like they’re defined by genre—this isn’t an art house screening series. It’s not about obscure movies or old movies, or new ones,” Huot said.

And from the first film Huot showed—Together, a Swedish comedic drama from 2000—to Stop Making Sense, the 1984 Talking Heads concert film, presented by Daniel Saunders, the films have been as varied as their presenters.

The next Cameo Cinema screening is Scenes From a Marriage, this Thursday, Jan. 17 at 8:30 p.m. at the Artel. Cameo Cinema presents Logan’s Run on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. at the Artel. All screenings start at the time listed, and all Cameo Cinema events are free. Find out more at: cameocinema.allcapslock.com

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