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Movie Lovers We Love: AltScreen Tells New York Where to Watch the Coolest Alternative Films

Movie Lovers We Love: AltScreen Tells New York Where to Watch the Coolest Alternative Films

This is the first in a new column, Movie Lovers We Love, that looks at the best in entrepreneurial, impassioned and otherwise cool cinephiles and what they create — the websites, theaters, film programs and ideas we hadn’t even begun to consider. If this sounds like you or someone you know, send us a note at editors@indiewire.com.

You’re a New Yorker. You have great, film-loving friends. But if you told them you wanted to see a movie tonight, in theaters, that would be undoubtedly worthwhile, how many would tell you about tonight’s screening of Michael Curtiz’s Joan Crawford-starring “Mildred Pierce,” hosted at the Chelsea Clearview Theater by the tenacious drag queen Hedda Lettuce?

We didn’t think so. You need more friends like Paul Brunick’s website AltScreen, a comprehensive directory to repertory and indie cinema in New York. AltScreen’s bread and butter is an immensely useful calendar of indie and repertory cinema for the New York cinephile.

AltScreen is first and foremost a resource for those who want to locate obscure and specialized film screenings in New York, but it’s also a place where people share their thoughts on film. Brunick says his standards for deciding whether a written feature is worth publishing is whether or not it could eventuallly be anthologized. A tall order, but one that makes the content on AltScreen actually worth reading.

What became AltScreen launched last April by Brunick and a ragtag team of passionate cinephiles willing to work for the love of the concept.  Brunick was careful about assembling his team; he perused a “Fake Criterion” thread on MUBI of graphic designers’ cover art for films that weren’t really released on Criterion.  There, he admired the work of one Jay Eccleston who ended up joining Brunick as the site’s designer.

“Cinema has an important place in 21st-century media culture,” he said. “It forces you to be focused. You’re not oversaturated in a theater.  In the rest of your life, you end up consuming so much of your media on increasingly small devices. I’d like AltScreen to attempt to put these audio/video regimes in dialogue with one another.” 

The intensive labor of running a website with little advertising content on a shoestring has prompted Brunick to ask for help in funding AltScreen with a Kickstarter campaign, which ends today.  The funds will go towards giving the site a better, more workable interface for Brunick and his team, but check out the rewards:  In addition to a series of autographed movie posters, the campaign is offering a set of “Magnets of Suspense,” magnetic tributes to a cinematic legend. Those that don’t have the dime to spend can spread the word about the Kickstarter campaign on Twitter or Facebook and be entered for a chance to win a “Royal Tenenbaums” poster (details on the Kickstarter page).

If cinephiles were on trading cards, these stats would be on the back of Brunick’s:

Paul Brunick, Founding Editor at AltScreen.com

Favorite Film:

I am a very ecumenical, “31 Flavors” kind of cinephile, screening wildly different films in different moods, for different ends, on different days of the week. So I’ll cheat and give three answers. Favorite art-house film: “In the Mood For Love;” favorite avant-garde fare: “Scorpio Rising;” favorite commercial crowdpleaser: “Basic Instinct.”

Favorite Director:

With the above disclaimer still in effect, the director I am most endlessly obsessed with–whose work keeps disclosing deeply personal secrets and masterclass insights into the mechanics of cinema–is Alfred Hitchcock.

Last Film I Saw:

Alexander Zeldovich’s weird and wonderful “Target” (2011). Still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

Favorite Place to See a Film:

The first New York job I ever had was ripping tickets and scooping popcorn at Film Forum, so that will always be my sentimental-favorite venue.

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