Programmer's Notebook

Notes and updates from our Programming Team and Executive Director.

July Programming Notes This July, the fourth isn't the only major holiday: Barbenheimer is nearly upon us! Mark your calendars on July 21 for the most anticipated double feature of the season, as both Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie open to audiences on our big screens. The real question is, which film will you see first?

Movie-wise, you can't go wrong with Billy Wilder's classic The Apartment, which will be our first HSN of the month (July 5). Our Hollywood Summer Nights range this month from Singing in the Rain (July 13, perhaps the greatest big-screen musical ever made, to the comedy classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (July 11). Another title not to be missed is the landmark summer blockbuster Jaws (July 20).

We have two very different but equally engrossing National Theatre Live performances arriving in July. A revival of Good on the West End will be coming to us on July 16 and 18. David Tennant stars as a professor in Germany in the years leading into the Second World War. Tennant’s character begins the play as a good man, but is slowly drawn into Naziism as he gradually compromises his principles. On a more lighthearted note, we will be showing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! The Musical on July 23 and 25 in celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the beloved stage show. This Olivier Award-winning production was filmed during the musical’s 1998 run in London and stars the then-newcomer Hugh Jackman.

Our $5 Family Matinee for July is The Flintstones (July 15). This 90’s live-action romp featuring John Goodman is directly inspired by the 60’s cartoon. Full of foot-powered cars, dinosaur-powered machines, and rock-themed puns, this summer movie will have the whole family saying yabba-dabba-do!

The Matrix (presented in 35mm), our Retrograde title this month, will play on July 6. This groundbreaking sci-fi classic is the perfect mix of special-effects driven action and philosophical reflection on the limits of human knowledge. The screening will be directly followed by action movie trivia at Forest & Main brewing. You can also come to our Deep Focus online seminar on the film on Tuesday, July 11.

On Sunday July 9, author Brynn Shiovitz will be at the Ambler to talk about her recent book, Behind the Screen: Tap Dance, Race, and Invisibility During Hollywood's Golden Age, which looks at why and how outdated racial content slipped past motion picture censors in the 1930s and 1940s. The discussion will be followed by a book signing in the lobby.

June Programming Notes Hollywood Summer Nights is in full swing in June at the Ambler. While we have first-rate classics playing Wednesday and Thursday throughout the season, I wanted to highlight a couple films that I’m particularly looking forward to. On June 7 we’re playing one of Billy Wilder’s most enduring noirs, Sunset Boulevard. This is the tragic tale of faded silent film actress Norma Desmond, a recluse in a Hollywood that has moved on to the talkies. Gloria Swanson’s performance is so compelling that she became inextricably associated with her role as Norma Desmond for the rest of her career. We’re playing The Godfather Part II on June 29 after a highly successful screening of Part I last summer. While Part II is not shown on the big screen as often as it’s earlier counterpart, it is widely regarded as one of the great sequels of all time, and you won’t want to miss it! In this film, we get to both dig into Vito Corleone’s past as he established himself in America, and continue the story of Michael Corleone on his morally murky journey as the Don. Be sure to keep an eye out for the occasional matinee encore for our bigger titles!

While we tend to focus on special programming in these notes, I would be remiss not to mention that we’ll be playing the highly anticipated Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, the tweed-clad darling of indie cinema. This will start June 23 with a pre show the evening before. Set in an American desert town in the 1950s, the film follows students and parents at a Junior Stargazer and Space Cadet convention, whose stay becomes spectacularly disrupted by world-changing events.

We’re kicking off a new Deep Focus online seminar series this month, focused on jazz music in movies. Join us on Tuesday, June 6, at 7:30pm for our talk on Alfie, and keep an eye out for future titles in this series. June being LGBT Pride month, we’re excited to be hosting a Deep Focus seminar on The Wizard of Oz , as a part of our ongoing Flaming Classics series, which focuses on Queer and Trans cinema. In addition, you can check out our previous discussions in this series here.

Our Retrograde title for June is the seasonally appropriate Wet Hot American Summer (June 8). Get ready to spend the last day of the summer of 1981 at Camp Firewood, alongside a star-studded cast, including Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Amy Poehler, as they navigate friendship, romance, and approaching debris from NASA’s space lab. Stop by Forest & Main Brewing Company for the after party featuring karaoke.

We have two $5 family matinees this month, which are free for members. First, we have Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (June 10), which features a strong female lead in Kit, played by Abigail Breslin, who has a burning desire to be a reporter. We will bring the Harry Potter saga to a close with Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (June 24).

The documentary Tokyo Stories is playing twice this month, June 11 and June 28, as part of our Art on Screen series. It explores the art of Tokyo, Japan, ranging from the woodblock prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige, to Manga, to newer artworks and artists.

May Programming Notes This month marks the much-anticipated return of our annual Hollywood Summer Nights program. Each week from mid-May through early September, we will bring Hollywood’s brightest stars to our big screen, where they belong. Whether you are a long-time devotee of classic cinema or a newcomer interested in exploring American cinema's rich history, your moviegoing experience will be enriched by the strong and inclusive sense of community fostered by this program's audience.

We’re very excited to be teaming up with the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University for a special showing of Little Shop of Horrors (May 18). Before the film – Ambler Arboretum of Temple University Director, Kathy Salisbury, provides an opportunity to get up close and personal with some real-live carnivorous plants! This month’s Retrograde title, presented in 35mm, is the kinetic post-apocalyptic masterpiece Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (May 11), considered to be one of the greatest action films ever made. The screening will be followed by an After Party at Forest & Main Brewing Company featuring 80’s trivia.

Our Deep Focus offerings this month kick off with an in-theater showing of Sweet Smell of Success (May 3 and 10) followed by an online seminar (May 16) led by TCM writer and Doylestown native Hannah Jack. For our Queer and Trans Cinema Series we will be playing John Waters’ Polyester (May 17), a satirical take on Douglas Sirk melodramas starring Waters's muse Divine. Christine Holmlund, professor Emerita of Cinema Studies, as well as Gender/Sexuality/Women’s Studies, at University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will be leading a discussion of the film on May 23 via Zoom. Finally, look out for The Wizard of Oz, which will kick off our Hollywood Summer Nights program on May 16th and will be the subject of an online discussion in our Queer Series in June.

Our series honoring films featured on the recent Sight and Sound poll of the greatest films of all time continues with Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (May 4) and Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes (May 10). Our $5 Family Matinees will include Tim’s Burton’s early aughts remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (May 13) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (May 20), both of which are free for members. For Mother’s Day we’ll be showing Terms of Endearment (May 14), a tearjerker exploring the bond between mothers and daughters, with Deborah Winger and Shirley McClain in starring roles.

April Programming Notes Spring has sprung at the Ambler Theatre, and we’re kicking off April with a strong run of special events! We have local film showcases, family matinees, and titles from our Retrograde and Deep Focus series. We'll also be continuing to recognize films featured in the recent Sight and Sound poll, and will be hosting the long-awaited return of our 35mm Film Festival.

We'll start off the month celebrating homegrown films. The First Take Shorts Series (Apr 6) is back, celebrating independently produced shorts made by local filmmakers, ranging from students to professionals. This free-for-members event is also taking place at The County Theater in Doylestown, where you can catch a different slate of films. Be sure to check out both offerings!

Later on in the month, we will provide another opportunity to sample the works of budding filmmakers with the FilmNOW Festival (Apr 23). This free screening showcases entries from high schoolers from throughout the region, and creates an opportunity for them to have their final products juried by industry professionals. The FilmNOW program is underwritten by a grant from the Vesta Fund.

We are elated to share that our 35mm Film Festival is returning later this month! The weekend-long festival (Apr 28 to Apr 30) celebrates watching film on film. We kick things off the evening Friday, Apr 28th, with Top Hat, a screwball comedy starring Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. This is followed by David Lynch’s surreal homage to the Wizard of Oz, Wild at Heart, featuring the young and dangerous Nick Cage opposite Laura Dern. The program on Saturday, Apr 29, opens up with the family-friendly Cartoon Chaos, presented by film historian and preservationist Lou DiCrescenzo, who provided these cartoons from his personal collection. We will have our Ambler Cinematic Arts Award Presentation to Amy Heller and Dennis Doros of Milestone Films in the afternoon, right before a screening of a print Milestone provided of Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness, a silent-era feature that showcases the real-life struggle of indigenous people living in Siam alongside wild animals. Federico Fellini’s iconic and self-referential masterpiece 8 ½ brings us into Saturday evening, with Pam Grier's iconic performance as Foxy Brown capping off the night. Sunday, Apr 30, kicks things off with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood classic, Charade. In the afternoon, we’ll be showing a print of pre-code mystery Night Nurse restored by the Library of Congress. The print will be presented by George Willeman, the Library's Nitrate Vault Manager. This year’s festival will close out with Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. This noir stars Robert Mitchum as a religious conman who is after the hidden money of a widow’s deceased husband, but has to contend with her skeptical children. Individual tickets are available for each show mentioned above, but you can also purchase a pass for the entire festival. We hope to see you there!

Our Retrograde series this month will feature the quintessential 90’s teen rom com She’s All That (Apr 20), starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Freddie Prince Jr. The screening will be followed by Karaoke at Forest & Main Brewing Company. Show your ticket stub at the bar to join our After Party and to score $5 drafts all night long.

Our Sight and Sound programming continues with Yasujirô Ozu’s masterpiece Tokyo Story (Apr 26), which came in at the fourth greatest film of all time in both the Sight and Sound critics’ and directors' polls. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see this emotionally resonant meditation on intergenerational family dynamics and the passage of time on the big screen!

We also have two $5 family matinee titles this month: The Iron Giant (Apr 15) highlights an endearing and unexpected connection between a boy and a misunderstood robot. We will continue working our way through the Harry Potter series with The Half Blood Prince (Apr 22).

As a part of our Deep Focus program, we will be showing the notorious pre-code drama Baby Face (Apr 5), starring Barbara Stanwyck. Join us for an online seminar on the film on Tuesday Apr 11, led by TCM writer Hannah Jack. We have two additional virtual seminars coming up on films we showed on the big screen back in March. Cinema’s First Nasty Women: Queens of Destruction will meet on Tues, Apr 18, at 7:30pm, and will be led by Professor Maggie Hennefeld, who co-curated the collection of shorts. Paris is Burning will be held on Tues, Apr 25, at 7:30pm, and will be led by Professor Lucas Hildebrand, who wrote a book on the celebrated documentary.

March Programming Notes Our special event programming throughout March will celebrate Women’s History Month as we highlight female-centric films and filmmakers. Our selections range from the groundbreaking works of early female filmmakers to modern works featuring women of color and directors who broke through into the mainstream.

Three films I’d like to highlight are Chantal Akerman’s – Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Mar 8). This film not only earned the honor of being named the greatest film ever made in the 2022 Sight and Sound critics poll but also marked the first time a film directed by a woman has received the top spot in the poll’s 70-year history.

Also, I’d like to highlight a recently restored and curated set of silent short films courtesy of Kino Lorber entitled Cinema’s First Nasty Women: Queens of Destruction (Mar 22). This collection of short films from the early 20th Century features women actors and filmmakers pushing the boundaries of what was socially acceptable at the time. Our Queens of Destruction screening will also include a Deep Focus virtual seminar, which takes place on Tues, April 16 at 7:30 pm on zoom with Professor Maggie Hennefeld.

Finally, I’d like to tell you about a local film screening at the theater this month titled – Holding Space: Stories of Maternal Mental Health (Mar 30). Produced by OC87 Recovery Diaries, a non-profit mental health storytelling platform, HOLDING SPACE tells the courageous stories of five women and their challenging journeys with postpartum depression and, perinatal anxiety, and mood disorders. This is a FREE Event sponsored by the PA Chapter of Postpartum Support International and includes a post-film discussion immediately following the screening.

Below are the other titles that we will be highlighting throughout the rest of March for Women’s History Month.

· Love & Basketball (Mar 2)
· A League of Their Own (Mar 9)
· Mädchen in Uniform (Mar 15)
· Sleepless in Seattle (Mar 23)
· Paris is Burning (Mar 29)
· Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Mar 28)

We will continue our Deep Focus virtual seminars this March by highlighting two films in our Flaming Classics series, which focuses on innovative films in Queer and Trans Cinema. The aforementioned Mädchen in Uniform will hold a virtual seminar on zoom on Sun, March 26 at 1:00 pm with noted American scholar and film critic, B. Ruby Rich. Then join us on Tue, April 25 at 7:30 pm for our virtual seminar on Paris is Burning with author Lucas Hilderbrand. Check our website for more information about how to participate in these online discussions.

If you enjoy Hollywood Classics, then the Ambler Theater has you covered with three films you don’t want to miss on the big screen this month! We’ll kick off the month with Elia Kazan’s award-winning drama – On the Waterfront (Mar 1) — featuring a legendary performance from Marlon Brando. Join us for a Deep Focus seminar on zoom with TCM writer Hannah Jack on Tue, March 14 at 7:30 pm.

Next is our screening of the romantic screwball comedy The Philadelphia Story (Mar 14) — this impeccably charming masterpiece stars Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant.

Finally, join us for the classic film noir – Mildred Pierce (Mar 28), featuring an extraordinary performance from the great Joan Crawford.

Our Retrograde series returns this month, where we present another line-up of cult classics from the era of VHS. In honor of actor Brendan Fraser’s recent awards acclaim, we are kicking off our series with a 35MM screening of the late ‘90s popcorn action-horror film The Mummy (Mar 16). Following the film, you can join us for the After Party at Forest & Main Brewing Company — as we host a ‘90s Trivia Night. Also, starting this year, our After Party festivities will be open to all ticket holders as we have eliminated the After Party ticket type. Instead all ticket holders who attend Forest & Main after our Retrograde screenings can show their ticket stub at the bar to score $5 drafts all night long.

Don’t forget to join us for two $5 Family Matinees this month with the animated adaptation of the beloved children’s book Curious George (Mar 18) followed by continuing our journey through the Harry Potter series with the Order of the Phoenix (Mar 25).

Be sure to grab your tickets to our annual Hollywood Awards Party on Sunday, March 12. Join us in celebrating the best films of the past year with this annual fundraiser for the theater. Tickets to the Hollywood Awards Party will include reserved seating, a red carpet reception, and endless popcorn and drinks. Pick up your tickets before they’re gone!

Also, looking ahead to April, be sure to pick up your tickets to our 3rd annual 35MM Film Festival. Join us for this three-day event that surveys a variety of titles from cult classics to Hollywood staples - and celebrates watching films on film. Along with including booth tours, projector demonstrations, and the presentation of the Ambler Cinematic Arts Award to Amy Heller & Dennis Doris of Milestone Films.

Februrary Programming Notes Welcome to a new monthly feature, in which a member of our programming team highlights some of the upcoming films and special events we have on deck for the upcoming month.

Starting in February and continuing throughout the year, we will highlight films from the 2022 Sight and Sound list. Once every decade since 1952 British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine polls film critics from around the world and issues a list of the 100 greatest films of all time. The 2022 iteration of the list has stirred much buzz in the film community due its noteworthy additions and shake-ups.

We’re kicking off our Sight and Sound screenings with three films that are not only new additions but highlight prominent Black filmmakers during Black History Month. Our retrospective starts with Spike Lee’s Brooklyn based drama, Do The Right the Thing (Feb 8). Next we showcase Jordan Peele’s brilliant debut feature, Get Out (Feb 16), which was one of only four films from this past decade to be included on the Sight and Sound list. Then we end the month with the first and only inclusion of a black female director on the 2022 list by showing Julie Dash’s lyrical debut, Daughters of the Dust (Feb 23);.

In addition to those three films, we will be screening The Watermelon Woman (Feb 22), a landmark of ‘90s queer cinema written, directed, and starring Temple University graduate – Cheryl Dunye. Then on February 28 join us on zoom for an online discussion with the film's producer, Dr. Alexandra Juhasz, which is a part of our Deep Focus seminar series. Speaking of Deep Focus, we’ll also be showing The Awful Truth (Feb 2), a classic screwball comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Join us for a discussion on zoom with TCM writer Hannah Jack on February 7. Check our website for more information about how to participate in these online discussions.

Romance is in the air this February at The Ambler Theater as we highlight several films that celebrate love on the big screen. We kick the month off with one of the most universally loved rom-coms of all time – Moonstruck (Feb 1) starring Cher, who will be making a separate appearance on screen this month when we show the underrated cult classic Mermaids(Feb 9). Our Mermaids screening will be in celebration of Galentine’s Day, a day intended to honor the connection you have with your lady friends. Mermaids not only stars Cher but has both Winona Ryder (at the height of her ‘80s teen stardom) and Christina Ricci playing her two young daughters.

We conclude our romantic lineup of films on Valentine’s Day with a screening of Before Sunrise (Feb 14), which is one of the most intelligent looks at modern love ever captured on film and stars both Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. If you plan to attend our screening of Before Sunrise, be sure to put a special message for your Valentine on screen before the movie starts.

Finally, join us for three family offerings this month as we will be holding two screenings of one of Miyazaki’s finest hand-drawn animations with Howl’s Moving Castle. We’ll be screening the subtitled version of the film on Feb 15 followed by showing the English dubbed version for our $5 Family Matinee on Monday, Feb 20. Also, speaking of our $5 Family Matinees we will be playing one of the best animated sequels of all time with Shrek 2 (Feb 18) followed by continuing our journey through the Harry Potter series with the Goblet of Fire (Feb 25).

Looking down the line at our programming, we plan to bring back a selection of films nominated for this year's Academy Awards ahead of Oscar night and our Hollywood Awards Party on Sunday, March 12. Also, our special events in March will highlight and showcase female led films and female filmmakers in honor of International Women’s Month. Plus March will mark the return of our Retrograde series. Stay tuned as we release more information on those titles.

Our programming team has also noted the many requests for straight to streaming films such as 'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery' — and why we haven’t played it yet. This is due to the decisions made by streaming service distributors such as Netflix that chose to show a film such as Glass Onion for one week at select big box theaters before its stream exclusively on their platform. When it comes to streaming services and their distribution methods, sometimes their decision making will differ from film to film and even year to year. Last year Netflix allowed us and many other arthouse theaters to show The Power of the Dog. But Glass Onion is a film and a property they are very protective of and are much more selective of how they like to showcase this specific film.