A/perture Cinema experiences Cold Weather after RiverRun

by Mark Burger

Since its opening in January 2010, Winston-Salem’s a/ perture cinema has become the city’s premier destination for independent and arthouse fare. The two-screen theater has also become a major component of the city’s RiverRun

International Film Festival, with which it is aligned.

Unlike the city’s previous Films on Fourth series, in which films were shown at the nearby Stevens Center, a/perture can maintain a more consistent screening schedule. That a/perture is smaller than the Stevens Center means that a film can be a financial success without having to pack hundreds of people into each screening. In addition, a/perture offers a wide selection of concession items. Films on Fourth proved an invaluable blueprint for what worked, what didn’t, and (perhaps most importantly) what could work.

“I think we have had a fantastic first year and really proven that Winston-Salem and even the surrounding communities really want a home for independent and arthouse films,” said Lawren Desai, curator of the a/ perture cinema.

RiverRun and a/perture have proven quite a match. Desai confirmed that most of last year’s RiverRun screenings were sellouts, and already it appears that this year’s will be comparable, with capacity crowds braving the unseasonably cold and inclement weather.

“It’s great weather for catching a movie,” quipped RiverRun executive director Andrew Rodgers earlier this week, moments before he introduced a screening of On Tour before a full house at a/perture.

The theater can accommodate 35mm, DVD/Blu-ray and Digibeta formats, which further expands its options as to what movies can be shown there, particularly at a time in filmmaking when many independent filmmakers utilize different formats.

The last two weeks, a/perture has suspended its regular schedule to accommodate the festival. “They’ve got us booked pretty much solid from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily,” Desai said.

In addition to its RiverRun offerings and its successful recent runs of such acclaimed films as The King’s Speech and Black Swan — Academy Award winners both — a/perture has also found success with special screenings such as the ongoing Cineclub series, presented in collaboration with the RiverRun International Film Festival, in which a selected film (usually one was originally a family drama about a that has achieved some success on the festival brother and sister getting to know each other circuit) is screened on the second Monday of as adults,” said Katz. “I was up late writing each month. one night and the first mystery elements just The a/perture cinema has also showcased started to creep in. I had been reading a lot of independent films by area filmmakers. Last crime fiction and it seemed like a good idea month, associate producer and Wake Forest in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t sure University alumnus Jessica Devaney attended how it would work.” a screening of the acclaimed documentary Katz had his leads in mind even when he Budrus. This month, with the dust from was writing the script. “I knew Trieste at RiverRun barely having settled, there will UNCSA… and I always thought she was be a special half-week run (Monday through great,” he said. “I knew Cris from working Thursday) of the independent comedy/ with him on Quiet City, my second movie. I mystery Cold Weather, written, edited and thought they would make a good brother and directed by Aaron Katz, a graduate of the sister, though when I wrote it they’d never School of Filmmaking at the UNCSA School met.” of the Arts. (For a review of Cold Weather, With Dunn and Lankenau cast, Katz click HERE). “wanted them mostly to feel comfortable Katz, who is also serving on the jury with their characters and each other, which (narrative feature competition) for this often means that there are improvised year’s RiverRun festival, will be on hand elements to a scene. The humor that’s in for Monday and Tuesday’s screenings of the movie hopefully is a result of them the film, which boasts a bevy of UNCSA behaving like real people would behave in graduates, including leading lady Trieste the fictional circumstances of the movie. Kelly Dunn, cinematographer Andrew Ross It’s not important to me the specific way in and producers Brendan McFadden and Ben which someone delivers a line. If they know Stambler. their characters and their responding to the Dale Pollock, under whose tenure as dean other actors and the things going on around of the School of Filmmaking Katz graduated, them it will be truthful and appropriate to the remembers him well. movie.”

“We argued all the time,” laughed Pollock, A native of Portland, Ore., Katz had still a faculty member at the school, “and I’m always hoped to shoot the movie there, but very proud of him. He’s a very, very good for a time it looked as if Louisiana might be independent filmmaker.” the location.

An offbeat combination of mirth and “Portland is essential to the kind of movie mystery, Cold Weather stars Dunn and that Cold Weather is,” said Katz. “I love Cris Lankenau as siblings who become Portland and I wanted to shoot the city amateur detectives, attempting to uncover in a way that people from the city would the whereabouts of the latter’s ex-girlfriend recognize. I’m so thankful that we found (Robyn Rikoon), who has mysteriously financing with people who trusted us and vanished. wanted us to make the movie we wanted to Cold Weather “came out of a script that make where we wanted to make it.”