A pandemic pivot for film fans | Opinion

By Dorothy Dworkin

Special to the Sun Sentinel

Sep 14, 2021 12:56 PM

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Dorothy Dworkin

Dorothy Dworkin (Dorothy Dworkin / Courtesy)

One of the highlights of the winters we spent in Boynton Beach was on Sunday morning attending the Café Cinemathique at the Delray Movie Theater. The movie aficionado who brought the films introduced them to a sold-out audience and led a discussion before and after the screening. He taught Lifelong Learning courses at Florida International University where his area of expertise was foreign language films.

Café Cinemathique was not our first exposure to foreign films and the art of filmmaking. Before relocating to Florida, we attended film courses at universities in New York City and Long Island. One class focused on film noir and it fostered an interest in learning more about that genre and others. We developed a knowledge of behind-the-scenes filmmakers: directors, producers, lighting technicians, etc., We became regular patrons at art houses and big box theaters.

During this pandemic year, we avoided in-person theaters and relied on the small screen to satisfy our movie-going appetite: Netflix, Prime Video, Turner Classic Movies, HBO Max, the list goes on. We missed going out to the movies but still wanted to continue learning about film and the art of filmmaking.

Fortunately, we found a group of like-minded movie fans interested in viewing films and talking about them. Enter Zoom and amateur film aficionados! Each week, a member of our group chooses a film to watch at home. Sometimes it’s foreign, sometimes alternative. Some of the films are award-winning while others are experimental. There are classics and avant garde films.

The person who chooses the film presents the background, themes, biographies and the reason for choosing it. We all express our opinions or “rotten tomatoes.” We usually do some research before the discussion and wind up learning what we may have missed and what to look for in the future. Some of the choices are not the kind of films I would normally watch but I don’t give up on them. We expand our tastes, learn and have fun. What more could we ask for? Popcorn!

Another change in my entertainment life during this pandemic is the way I read. With the purchase of an electronic reader, I download books from my library without having to lug them home and/or return them to the building. I dip my reading finger into genres that I don’t usually read: science fiction, detective stories, romance novels, murder mysteries. I’ve gotten hooked on some and am loosening up my addiction to reading mostly memoirs.

I do, however, miss in-person book group meetings. One reason is because on Zoom, I have to provide my own refreshments and no longer enjoy the home baked goodies my fellow “bookies” provided at meetings. We want to get together in-person but with the resurgence of the new virus, we had to forgo that plan.

There is definitely something lacking in not being able to visit in friends’ homes, view films in a darkened theater and hear reactions as they are happening. But our goal is to stay healthy and protect others. I’ll be glad to say goodbye to Zoom but for now it’s keeping me connected to the outside world and activities I enjoy, and for that I am grateful.

Dorothy Dworkin is a freelance writer and writing teacher in Boynton Beach.

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