Film Festivals

Sweet (Cinema) 16

Our art guru, Molly Surno, curates an avant-garde–filled night with experimental films and scores by alt-rock fave Blonde Redhead.

Photo by Simone and Amedeo Pace

Aside from sharing the best galleries, shows, exhibitions, and installations with What Should We Do?! readers, I’m an artist myself. One of my longest-standing projects is a free-floating nomadic film, music, and performance series I curate called Cinema 16. I transform a given venue into a roaming performance space and also commission musicians to score original soundtracks for avant-garde films.

I named this series after the New York–based avant-garde film society Cinema 16, founded in 1947 by husband and wife Amos and Marcia Vogel. They were inspired by a film exhibition in Greenwich Village featuring the works of legendary experimental filmmaker Maya Deren. The Vogels showed subversive documentaries in a pre–Michael Moore world, when documentaries were still a rare medium. Though the original Cinema 16 shuttered in 1963, I revived the concept in 2008 after living in New York City for a few years. I felt the experience of watching films had been increasingly reduced to staring at the tiny screens of our laptops and iPods, usually alone. I wanted to resurrect the public cinematic experience. My screenings have traveled to museums and galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA PS1, The Kitchen, and Museum of the Moving Image.

This week, I’ve teamed up again with The Kitchen and with twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace of the beloved NYC alt-rock band Blonde Redhead. The pair have composed an original score for a series of seven rare, experimental films from the ’50s through the ’90s. The movies address fascinating issues of legacy, life span, and decay—both materially and conceptually. The first night, Thursday, May 18, is a traditional show, and the second on Friday, May 19, is a special benefit for The Kitchen. After the screenings, you can celebrate onstage with the artists—and me!—during a cocktail reception with a DJ set by the Paces from their collection of classic Italo disco. Please join us!

Why You Should Go: To be transported to a transcendent world of avant-garde film and music—and to dance to vintage Italian tunes!

Cinema 16
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Chelsea
Thursday, May 18, 8 p.m., $20
Benefit show on Friday, May 19, 8 p.m., $50

The wine you’ll be drinking at Corkbuzz will go down as smoothly as your Chelsea night.