Movie is the message

Community Cinema series finds a home at Discovery Museum

America Ferrera plays with children at the New Light Crèche in Kolkata, India, in a scene from “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The PBS film will kick off the new Durango Community Cinema series on Wednesday at the Durango Discovery Museum. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of ITVS

America Ferrera plays with children at the New Light Crèche in Kolkata, India, in a scene from “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The PBS film will kick off the new Durango Community Cinema series on Wednesday at the Durango Discovery Museum.

Some films are so important that they need to be seen, regardless of box-office receipts.

That’s the idea behind the Durango Community Cinema series, but it is not an idea unique to Durango. The film series is a nationwide PBS program of that started at the affiliate WGBH in Boston. Now in its third year locally, Community Cinema has found perhaps a permanent home in the Boiler Room Theater at Durango Discovery Museum. The films will be shown on the third Wednesday of each month through June 19.

Although PBS makes it easy for local communities to participate in Community Cinema, providing the films and plenty of marketing and press materials, it still takes a local point person to make it happen. Here in Durango, that’s Bliss Bruen. She has scrambled to find venues for the films since the program’s inception. After stints at Fort Lewis College and local movie theaters, she said she is thrilled to have landed at the museum.

“We live in such a nice town, but we tend to get isolated and insulated from a lot of what’s going on around the world,” Bruen said. “I think people who watch PBS are also the kind of people who like to go to science museums and things. Their view of science and imagination and creativity involves solving thorny problems, and a lot of these films have some thorny issues.”

The 2012-13 season will begin Wednesday with “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The PBS documentary spans the globe as celebrities such as Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes meet women who are reversing generations of mistreatment and inequality in their communities.

The film is based on a book by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, It documents Kristof’s global travels with nine celebrities. Like all Community Cinema features, a panel discussion will be held after the screening of the movie. For the opener, representatives of the Shanta Foundation, which works in Myanmar, and Step-Up Uganda will bring a local connection to the conversation.

“There are also a high percentage of people doing good work in Durango, and this series is a platform for them,” Bruen said. “These two organizations are working in Asia and Africa, and they’re based right here.”

For those unable to attend the monthly screenings, an encore showing will occur at noon the next Wednesday at Durango Public Library. Rocky Mountain PBS will begin airing “Girls Who Lead,” a larger series that incorporates “Half the Sky,” on Oct. 1.

ted@durangoherald.com

Meg Ryan with Somana Long and Srey Pov at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in a scene from “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will kick off the Community Cinema Series at Discovery Museum. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of ITVS

Meg Ryan with Somana Long and Srey Pov at Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in a scene from “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will kick off the Community Cinema Series at Discovery Museum.

Nicholas Kristof in Somaliland. The book by the New York Times columnist, co-written with Cheryl WuDunn, forms the basis for the film “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The documentary is the opening film Wednesday for the Durango Community Cinema series at the Durango Discovery Museum. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of ITVS

Nicholas Kristof in Somaliland. The book by the New York Times columnist, co-written with Cheryl WuDunn, forms the basis for the film “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” The documentary is the opening film Wednesday for the Durango Community Cinema series at the Durango Discovery Museum.