Devoted music collectors have vinyl, a format that’s anachronistic enough for hipster cred but still common enough to easily buy and play. We might give extra dedication points, then, to a certain breed of film buffs who can do one better. Just take locals Barron Sherer and Kevin Arrow. Tomorrow night, the two friends, film buffs, curators, artists, and all-around cultural thinkers present a night of sci-fi and astronomy cinematic oddities on 16mm film.
“It’s a little larger, sturdier than 8mm and Super 8,” Sherer explains, contrasting 16mm against the two formats that ruled the home-movie world until the advent of VHS. “[Films in 16mm] are quite stable and are projected with a mechanical process that I don’t really call obsolete, yet. ”
“Film enthusiasts will always pontificate on the beauty and integrity of the original film format,” Arrow adds. “We also recognize that many of the films we choose to show are not available in any other format, much like out-of-print vinyl that has not been reissued or digitized.”
Sherer and Arrow count among the area’s top preservationists and aficionados of both 16mm and 8mm film. Together, they run the company FocusFilm 16mm U.S., which provides 16mm film looping devices and projectors for galleries and museums. They also team up regularly for screening events around town. So when Arrow recently left a 15-year post at the Museum of Contemporary Art for one at the Miami Museum of Science, they had to christen the place’s auditorium.
“We have a proper theater space and some old 16mm film prints and I recognized the opportunity,” Arrow says. “I called Barron and he is always itching to touch film, so we agreed on a science fiction, astronomy and experimental theme.” Accordingly, Friday night’s selections span moods from slightly creepy to psychedelic to nostalgically educational, with Arrow and Sherer culling them from their personal collections and retired film librarian Don Chauncey’s acquisitions for the Miami-Dade Public Library.
Among the highlights to which attendees can look forward are Jordon Belson’s Re-Entry, an abstract film based on projected light, which Arrow describes as “a rare and seldom-seen bit of ’60s space psychedelia.” Sherer, meanwhile, singles out Powers of Ten, a documentary by Charles and Ray Eames whose 1977 version he and Arrow will screen. Touching nominally on math and the scale of the universe, the film is something Sherer calls “the Citizen Kane of educational movies.”
Not all the films on the bill come with sound, so local musicians Kian Seara of Rare Fruit and Gyr Bartlett of Psychic Mirrors will provide “musical interventions” during these selections and between the rest. But consider that a fringe benefit — the real upside is communing with other fans of cultural ephemera, and enjoying the films the way they were intended to be seen. “There’s the communal aspect of cinema spectatorship that people still find appealing,” says Sherer. “Film prints are beautiful to see projected, quite different from YouTube movies on your phone.”
8 to 10 p.m. Friday, October 26 at the Miami Science Museum theater, 3280 S. Miami Ave., Miami. Admission is $5 after 6 p.m.; all ages. Call 305-646-4200, or visit miamisci.org