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Ackland Art Museum hosts global cult cinema film forum at the Varsity Theatre

The Ackland Film Forum will return to the Varsity Theatre for four weeks, presenting art films displaying different cultures.

The Ackland Art Museum’s Film Forum at the Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street kicked off last Thursday with “The Man Who Saved the World," a movie known as the Turkish "Star Wars." 

It's one of four films making up the series' Spring 2022 theme: global cult cinema.

Audiences will often seek out cult films because they have a dedicated fanbase, according to Film Forum Programmer for the Ackland  and Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature Martin Johnson. 

“In many cases, the filmmakers were trying to make the film they wanted to make and it ended up finding an audience that was even more popular than they anticipated,” Johnson said.

The Film Forum was co-organized by the Ackland and UNC's Film Studies Program in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

“As a non-movie buff, I quickly learned that ‘cult classics’ are beloved movies that have a real sense of fun and excitement for a group of people,” said Public Programs Coordinator for the Ackland Lindsey Hale. 

The Forum has taken many different forms over the years, Hale said, including virtual watch parties that the Ackland hosted on Amazon Prime and Zoom during the pandemic.

The series originally debuted in 2011. Past forums have focused on on American female directors, global queer cinema and American music. 

“(The Ackland) had this idea to show a film and instead of doing it inside the Ackland, the idea was to do it in a theater within the community,” said Varsity Theatre Owner Paul Shareshian.

The films also reflect what the Ackland is currently showing at the museum, Shareshian said.

This spring, the Forum works in conjunction with an installation in the Ackland’s second floor gallery that features displays of work used in University classes, Hale said. 

Visitors can find examples of posters from the Ackland collection on display for a Research Methods in Film Studies class that Johnson is currently teaching.  The class is a collaborative online international learning course with Iain Robert Smith, senior lecturer in film studies at King's College in London. 

Three more films are part of this spring's series: “The Big Boss,” “Tears of the Black Tiger” and “Om Shanti Om.” Each showing will be accompanied by a brief introduction from a local film buff, Hale said. 

“These films are all really fun to watch and as we are emerging out of the pandemic that’s what I really wanted to do with this series,” Johnson said. 

Screenings are free and open to the public, and will be held Thursdays for the next several weeks.

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