Digital Gym Cinema launches cult film series – KPBS

Digital Gym Cinema kicks off a new weekly film series called DGC Video. The films won’t be screened off of old VHS tapes, but the series is meant to harken back to the cult favorite staff picks you used to find at your favorite video store.
Depending on your age, the mention of a video store will either bring back waves of nostalgia or need to be explained like how to use a rotary phone.
But Digital Gym Cinema, which is run by the Media Arts Center San Diego, is hoping for nostalgia with its new weekly film series.
“DGC Video is a new film series highlighting cult classics, forgotten video store relics, all kinds of stuff that we’re excited to bring to the Digital Gym Cinema at its new location here in downtown,” said Kristian Perez-Franco, Media Arts Center San Diego exhibitions manager.
Digital Gym Cinema is at its new East Village home at UCSD Extended Studies Park & Market building, where it felt it needed to cultivate new audiences with innovative programming. DGC Video is like having video store staff picks but on the big screen.
“The best part about being here with the Digital Gym is that we get to completely curate everything and make sure that we are adding to the discussion, adding to the conversation and making things just more accessible to the community,” Perez-Franco said.
Digital Gym Cinema is part of the nonprofit organization Media Arts Center San Diego so there is an emphasis on making films accessible, affordable, diverse and reflective of the community.
“We’re also collaborating with other community organizations and galleries,” Perez-Franco said. “For example, our upcoming screening of “House of Flying Daggers” is being co-presented by Good Faith Gallery, which is a neighbor not too far from us here in downtown, another space that promotes arts and culture here in San Diego.”
Zhang Yimou’s gorgeous martial arts action fantasy “House of Flying Daggers” screens tonight, Aug. 30, at 7:00 PM. Next Tuesday, you can see a truly insane cult classic from 1981 called “Possession” that stars Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani and was directed by Andrzej Zulawski. That film was seared into my memory when I saw it in the 80s at the original San Diego International Film Festival that Greg Kahn ran at what was then called the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art. Kahn showcased films that would never screen anywhere else, much like what Digital Gym Cinema is now doing, and I am exceedingly grateful to both.
Digital Gym Cinema is only 56 seats but it crams as much programming as possible into its micro cinema. It offers a venue for the programming I volunteer to do with Film Geeks SD, and it shows foreign and independent films such as “Mad God” and “Neptune Frost” that you simply will not find anywhere else in San Diego.
“I think in our programming we have that nice curation that a lot of other cinemas don’t ever get to experience,” Perez-Franco explained. “We’re a community space. We get to meet new people, we get to talk to new people, bring new people into our network of filmgoers and film lovers. So coming to see a film here is a really powerful and intimate experience because of that local aspect. We just are passionate about everything that is up and coming in the film industry and we hope that we can expand and grow in our space here.”
Creating a sense of community and a video store vibe extends to the physical space before you even enter the cinema.
“We wanted to activate this new film series in the lobby as well. And so we’ve incorporated this new DGC Video library, which is essentially just a free library like you would see in your neighborhood for books, but this is for films. So we have a selection of DVDs, Blu-rays, and if you have a movie from home, bring it in, drop it off in the case, and take another movie that you’re interested in,” he said. “So it’s really an installation, an extension of the series to also bring the importance of just sharing, sharing physical media. And we want to cultivate just the idea of sharing and making also that video store theme sort of tangible as well.”
Digital Gym Cinema offers unique film programming in an environment that encourages discussion. Plus, you can contact the cinema and make requests for films you want to see on the big screen as part of the DGC Video series.


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