Sundance selections light up Amherst Cinema

  • Alex Hornbeck, left, Yasmin Eisenhauer and George Myers of Amherst Cinema battle the elements last weekend while screening new films from the Sundance Film Festival. CONTRIBUTED/AMHEST CINEMA

  • Audience members take in one of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival titles that screened at Amherst Cinema last weekend. Photo courtesy Amherst Cinema

Staff Writer
Published: 2/4/2022 3:26:26 PM
Modified: 2/4/2022 3:25:06 PM

AMHERST — A snowstorm, icy temperatures and COVID-19 seemed to conspire against Amherst Cinema last weekend when the movie house served as one of seven independent U.S. movie theaters hosting selected movies from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

But Yasmin Eisenhauer, Amherst Cinema’s executive director, said audience members and staff alike had a great experience at the theater, which screened several features and short films Friday through Sunday that were part of Sundance’s “Satellite Screens” program.

“Every person who came through the door had a story to tell about how they were determined to come out to this, despite the weather,” she said. The theater sold over 300 tickets during the mini-festival, she added.

In fact, the best-attended film was “Alice,” a time-traveling story and a nod to the “Blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, which played Saturday afternoon during the snowstorm.

Eisenhauer noted that because the Sundance Film Festival was forced to go online again this year because of the spread of the omicron variant, only people who came to the Amherst Cinema or the other theaters in the satellite program were able to see films from the festival in person.

“That felt really good — to settle in and see a film on a big screen with other people, to have that sense of community,” said Eisenhauer, who noted that some audience members came to the theater from Boston. (The cinema has been limited to 50% normal capacity due to COVID since the beginning of the new year.)

Amherst Cinema plans to bring some of these selected Sundance films back later this year, as it’s done with films from past festivals. The theater has also just opened a screening of “Flee,” the 2021 Sundance Festival’s Grand Jury Prize winner.

In addition, the theater plans to apply to host the satellite program again next year, assuming Sundance goes ahead with it (the program debuted in January 2021).

“Bringing Sundance here was really a wonderful way to begin 2022,” Eisenhauer said.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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