“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” wrote the Irish poet William Buter Yeats.
The Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) is trying to ignite the flame of kids’ imaginations in two ways this coming school year: one, JBFC restarted its JBFC Kids programming in July, playing all kinds of fun, visually spectacular movies, including Mary Poppins, with the words to the songs on screen for singing along, The Muppet Movie and Where the Wild Things Are, showing a film every other Saturday a month; two, the center has created an emerging screenwriting fellowship program in collaboration with the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, for 10 students entering 10th and 11th grade, with the first class starting in October.
JBFC has also re-started its late-night weekend screenings, geared toward older kids and younger adults, called, “After Hours,” which was put on hold due to the COVID pandemic, with late night horror and cult films. Beginning in September, the movies the center will show include The People Under the Stairs, Teen Wolf, and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Movies slated for the October Halloween season include Scream, The Exorcist, and The Wicker Man, said Monica Castillo, JBFC’s senior programmer.
The kids’ film slated for September 16th is Labyrinth, a film directed by Muppet Master Jim Henson, about a girl who wishes her baby brother would disappear. When he actually does, she has to find him, in the labyrinth. Many of the characters are puppets Henson’s shop built.
On September 30th, JBFC will show another Henson production, The Witches, a live-action movie based on a book by Roald Dahl about a group of witches who plot to turn all the world’s children into mice, but there is one brave boy who finds out about the plan and opposes them.
The October 14th movie is Coraline, an animated film about a girl who opens a secret door in her house and discovers an alternative reality that’s inviting at first but has a catch – just a little one. Coco is playing on October 28th, three days before Halloween. It’s about a boy who accidentally finds himself in the Land of the Dead, then goes on a quest there to find out why his family won’t let him play any music, which is a big problem, because he thinks he was born to do it.
Children who come to the show in costumes will get a “spooktacular” prize, said Denise Treco, JBFC director of communications and marketing. The prize during last Halloween’s showing, of E.T. The Extraterrestrial last year was a bendable monster figurine.
The screenwriting fellowship program offered slots to ten students, who had to apply by August 6th. NYU professor Jeremy Kamps will mentor the students as they develop their screen plays. Kamps has won several awards for his fiction and play writing. He’s worked with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, the New York Theatre Workshop, the National Black Theatre of Harlem, and other theaters, from Los Angeles to Alabama.
There is no cost to the participating students or their families, Treco said. Students who earn a place in the program will receive a stipend for deferred wages and transportation to and from the JBFC’s Media Arts Lab twice a week for six weeks – 13 sessions in all. They will be able to use industry-standard equipment and software to do their work. Each student will be required to complete a screenplay for a short film. Professional actors will table-read the screenplays.
JBFC recently renovated its theaters and is opening up a wine bar in October. It will be in the Jane Peck Gallery on the third floor, which will have on display photography and poster exhibits.
“The idea is we will be serving wine and beer, cheese plates and other light fare,” Treco explained. “We’re trying to have a place where people can meet up before or after the movie to talk.”
“The theater renovation took three months,” Treco explained. “We started in January, and it went to the end of April.”
The center has installed new seats in its three ground floor theaters, and a new screen in Theater One. The center upgraded the lighting in the floors under the arm rests and improved its hearing loop technology in the ground floor theaters. People using T-Coil hearing aids will be able to tie into the movie’s sound system with their devices. JBFC also installed better sound acoustics in Theater Two, to block out exterior noise from outside the walls.
It all adds up to an improved experience for movie-goers and the possibility for kids to experience the adventure of a hero’s quest, defeat lots of bad guys, and in the process discover exciting new worlds or get a thrill, lighting the fires of curiosity within.