Ambler Theater’s annual 35mm Film Festival celebrates of the magic of cinema, and is dedicated to the cinephiles, projectionists, and preservationists that keep this tradition alive. All features in this program will be presented on 35mm film, just as they would have been when they premiered. Spanning numerous decades and genres, this program truly has something to offer for everyone. We hope you’ll join us for this celebration of the magic of watching films on film.
A note about film
Prior to the advent of digital projection, the basic process of showing movies remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. Working with film was a much more involved process, requiring a great deal of careful work on the part of projectionists. The results speak for themselves though, photochemical film offers a wonderful richness and depth simply not possible with modern digital projectors. Today, very few theaters offer 35mm film screenings, and this craft is at risk of disappearing. Ambler Theater is proud to carry on this tradition and is excited to share this piece of their history with you.
About the screenings
To better recreate the theater-going experience of the golden age of cinema, Ambler Theater has enlisted the help of film historian and preservationist Lou DiCrescenzo to curate preshow material, on loan to the theater from his private collection. Each film will be preceded by period-accurate trailers, cartoons, and a few other surprises.
The Ambler Cinematic Arts Award
Ambler Theater is proud to honor George Willeman, Nitrate Film Vault Manager at The Library of Congress for his dedication to film preservation and education at the highest level. Join them for the award presentation on Saturday, April 6th at 1:30pm. The ceremony will be followed by a film once thought to be lost, that the Ambler Theater was able to assist Mr. Willeman in preserving, the 1928 flapper comedy BARE KNEES—Presented with live musical accompaniment.
35mm pop-up museum
All weekend long, visit the annex at the Ambler Theater for a pop-up gallery that explores film history through the artifacts and objects used to project film. Get an up-close look at antique and rare projectors, film specimens, and other equipment.
Projection booth tours
Go behind the scenes with a guided tour of a working projection booth. Visitors will enjoy an overview of how a modern projection booth works, as well as a look at a pair of reel-to-reel 35mm projectors.
The Ambler Theater proudly presents the following films in its 35mm Film Fest:
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg—Friday, April 5th at 7:00PM
This vibrant, colorful, and delightful musical from Jacques Demy is a staple of world cinema. Geneviève, played by an impossibly lovely Catherine Deneuve, is a Frenchwoman who works at a small-town boutique selling umbrellas. She falls for a dashing mechanic, but their brief romance is interrupted when he is drafted into the Army. Print provided courtesy of the Moving Image Archives at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. (NR France 1964 1 hr. 31 min.)
Barbarella—Friday, April 5th at 9:30PM
Jane Fonda stars as a space traveler in the distant future in this campy sci-fi cult favorite. Barbarella, a representative of the United Earth Government, sets out to find and stop an evil scientist who has created a weapon that could destroy humanity. Original Technicolor print provided courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive. (PG US 1968 1 hr. 38 min.)
Cartoon Chaos—Saturday, April 6th at 10:30AM (Family-friendly)
Film historian and preservationist Lou DiCrescenzo presents classic shorts from his collection of vintage Technicolor prints. Laugh it up with some of your favorite cartoon characters on the big screen. (NR US 1 hr. 30 min.)
Bare Knees—Saturday, April 6th at 1:30PM
Preceded by the presentation of the Ambler Cinematic Arts Award to George Willeman, Nitrate Film Vault Manager at the Library of Congress. This screening will also be presented with live musical accompaniment, performed by theater organist Brett Miller.
Once thought to be a lost film, the only surviving nitrate print was saved by Lou DiCrescenzo and preserved by the Library of Congress, with assistance from the Ambler Theater. BARE KNEES is a prime example of the flapper comedy genre. A young married woman in a small town is visited by her sister, who causes a scandal in town with her bobbed hair and short skirts. (NR US 1924 1 hr. – Print provided by The Library of Congress)
Sunset Boulevard—Saturday, April 6th at 6:30PM
A film noir featuring former silent star Gloria Swanson as faded, delusional Hollywood actress Norma Desmond, in a role mirroring her own career. William Holden co-stars as the hack writer she hires to edit the screenplay she believes will usher in her comeback. The black and white cinematography is stunning, the story is twisted and cynical, and writer-director Billy Wilder is at the top of his game. Widely considered the best Hollywood film about Hollywood. (NR US 1950 1 hr. 50 min.)
Dirty Harry—Saturday, April 6th at 9:30PM
The first of Clint Eastwood’s iconic performances as San Francisco cop Harry Callahan. In his attempts to track down a killer, Callahan runs afoul of incompetent police bureaucracy, bleeding-heart judges, and the general collapse of law and order. He realizes that he must go on a one-man campaign to stop the vicious psychopath himself. Featuring an original Technicolor print. (R US 1971 1 hr. 42 min.)
Gold Diggers of 1933—Sunday, April 7th at 11:00AM
A wonderful Pre-Code musical featuring the iconic kaleidoscopic choreography of Busby Berkeley. Aspiring actresses, played by Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, and Ginger Rogers, are down on their luck during the Depression when their Broadway show closes. Their neighbor, played by Dick Powell, offers to back the show, but they don’t believe he has the money. With great music and dancing, sharp dialogue, a strong supporting cast and some romance thrown in, what more do you need? (NR US 1933 1 hr. 37 min. – Print provided by The Library of Congress)
Viva Film!—Sunday, April 7th at 2:00PM (Sneak preview)
Director Peter Flynn’s last film, The Dying of the Light, was a bittersweet look at the decline of 35mm projection and the last remaining projectionists. While researching that film, Flynn entered into the world of film enthusiasts. His new documentary, VIVA FILM! tells the story of film preservationists and features footage shot at the Ambler Theater, and at our 2018 35mm Film Festival. Join us for a special advance screening of scenes from the new film, which will be moderated in-person by Flynn.
Screening will be followed by a live in-theater demonstration of vintage 35mm film projectors. (NR US 2019 1 hr. 30 min.)
Rebel Without a Cause—Sunday, April 7th 2:00PM
REBEL is a classic portrait of 1950s teen angst with generation-defining performances by James Dean and Natalie Wood. A young man arrives in a new town with his troubled past firmly in tow. He quickly falls for the girl next door and befriends a vulnerable classmate, forming a surrogate family fueled by alienation. Released just two years after CinemaScope was introduced, REBEL significantly raised the aesthetic standard for the format. (PG-13 US 1955 1 hr. 51 min.)
Festival passes grant you access to all nine screenings in this year’s program. Pass holders are also invited to an exclusive reception for George Willeman, recipient of the Ambler Cinematic Arts Award. Reception follows the awards ceremony and screening of Bare Knees on Saturday, April 6th at 1:30PM. Get tickets and festival passes here.
Festival passes: Individual tickets:
General admission $75.00 General admission $15.00 Theater members $60.00 Theater members $12.00