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Browning Cinema brings eclectic film fare

Analise Lipari | Friday, September 8, 2006

This semester, the DeBartolo Performing Art Center’s Michael Browning Family Cinema will play host to a wide variety of featured events, ranging from film festivals to single showings of both old and new classics. Since the DPAC’s inception and opening, the Browning has featured an impressive array of films, with this fall proving no exception.

Proud to advertise itself as a local “art house” theater on the DPAC’s website, the Browning is a versatile and well-used space. It is capable of showing films in any format from 8mm film to DVD to the industry standard 35mm film, and is the sole THX-certified film theater in the state of Indiana.

In the Browning’s short but impressive history, it has proven to be a haven for artistic and popular films alike. Previous films featured have ranged from the critically acclaimed 2005 documentary “Grizzly Man,” to the 1947 Gregory Peck classic “Gentleman’s Agreement.” As part of the “PAC Classic 100,” the Browning has made it a mission to showcase films of an impressive caliber, including Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane,” among others.

This past spring’s sold-out showing of Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” served as the opening of the film series titled Gay and Lesbian Film: Filmmakers, Narratives, Spectatorships, and the annual Student Film Festival has also found a welcome home in the Browning.

The Browning also serves as the meeting location of the Notre Dame Film Society, a group that views and discusses films throughout the academic year. Sponsored by the Film, Television and Theater department, the Film Society is technically an FTT elective course through which students can participate in film viewing and topical discussions. The Film Society meets weekly at 7 every Sunday night.

For the upcoming fall season, the Browning has another varied but impressive line-up. The PAC Classic 100 series will include such films as 1959 Marilyn Monroe classic “Some Like It Hot” on Nov. 19, the 1940’s “The Philadelphia Story” Nov. 5 and 1969’s Sam Peckinpah’s seminal Western “The Wild Bunch” on Oct. 8.

As the semester continues, the Browning Cinema will feature screenings of a wide variety of contemporary films as well. Some of interest to students in the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities include 2006’s “School for Scoundrels,” featuring none other than “Napoleon Dynamite” star John Heder alongside Ben Stiller. Also, 1996’s “Some Mother’s Son,” a story of the I.R.A., will be featured as part of the Nanovic Film Series.

One of the surprising benefits of having the Browning Cinema on campus is its inexpensive price. Showings of films are at most three dollars, making it a legitimate alternative to venturing off-campus to the movie theater. There is also a snack bar on the first floor, which adds to both the comfort of the theater as well as the movie-going experience.

Tonight at 7 and 10, the Browning is showing “Iron Island,” a 2006 film directed by Mohammad Rasoulof. Filmed in Farsi (Persian) and shown with English subtitles, the film tells the story of a broken-down tanker, affectionately known as “Iron Island,” that serves as a shelter for a group of homeless families off of the Iranian coast. Led by one Captain Nemat (Ali Nassirian), the community finds itself facing a rebellion when the questions of mutiny and young love arise.

Another upcoming feature is the Browning’s showing of “Wordplay,” a 2006 documentary about Will Shortz, well-beloved creator of the New York Times crossword puzzle. The Cinema will host the film’s director, Patrick Creadon, at both of the Thursday and Friday evening showings.

With these and other films to be featured in the coming weeks and months, the fall of 2006 should prove to be the most interesting that the Browning Cinema has yet seen.