A 17-day moviethon featuring more than 34 films kicks off Friday in Gloucester’s Cape Ann Community Cinema, where music and special guests often take center stage in this intimate space as well.
The cinema — with its living-room-style digital movie theater — will launch its sixth annual Cape Ann Film Festival, running Friday through Nov. 17 in the downtown space which seats 110 on couches and comfy chairs with dining tables.
Creative director Robert Newton said the homegrown festival choices are often driven by the patrons. He says he seeks films made on or about Cape Ann, then expands to films produced in Massachusetts and “films from anywhere that we feel would be of interest to our audience.”
“It’s more of a spiritual programming model,” said Newton. “Our patrons have taken to films that make you think and feel, and we’ve created a place where people can experience a film like that in a safe, warm and comfortable environment. It’s a cathartic place.”
The opening features the festival’s guest of honor, Thomas Dolby, the British musician and producer, who will present his film “The Invisible Lighthouse,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will be narrating, live-scoring, and performing foley (sound effects) to his new film. After the film, there will be a Q&A segment along with a greatest-hits set.
The Grammy-nominated Dolby is known for his 1982 radio hit “She Blinded Me With Science” and his album “The Golden Age Of Wireless.” He is now on tour and recently performed in Somerville. (Tickets for this event only are $39 ($35 for members), which includes reserved seats, a signed poster, and a post-show meet-and-greet.
There is another opening night option on Friday for patrons who prefer to see the 1927 sci-fi classic “Metropolis,” with organist Peter Krasinski playing a live score, at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church at 10 Church St.
The films to be screened over the coming weeks vary from a premiere of a financial thriller “Capital” to a prize-winning documentary “Blackfish,” which features the story of a 12,000 killer orca and interviews with whale experts. There is an HD opera debut and a 2013 horror film shot in Disney parks without permission.
Music has always had a high profile at the theater, and the festival features music-related films: “AKA Doc Pomus,” “This Magic Moment,” the inspiring story of the songwriter behind “Save The Last Dance For Me, “Viva Las Vegas,” and the Verdi opera “Nabucco,” from La Scala in Milan, Italy.
In an event pairing live music and film, Jeff Krulik, the director of the cult classic “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” will take on iconic rock stars in “Led Zeppelin Played Here” (Nov. 7), with musical sets before and after the showing by the Boston-based Led Zeppelin tribute band Dazed.
On Saturday at 2:30 p.m., the public is invited to a free screening of the Cold War comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!” —a story about Soviet sub that runs aground off “Gloucester Island.” There is another free showing of “Cartoons Of Shame,” a collection of animated shorts pulled from release due to racial depictions, Monday at 6:30 p.m. This program is curated and hosted by Newton.
Newton will host another “lost” cartoons event tonight at 7:30 p.m., with “Dustbin Dizney” shown with “Escape From Tomorrow,” the horror film shot inside Disney theme parks. The film encores on Nov. 2. Other animated films in the lineup are “The Rabbi’s Cat” (Nov. 13) and Don Herzfeldt’s epic “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” (Nov. 15).
The Cape Ann Museum is hosting a monthly film series at the cinema while the museum is closed for renovations. The first film in the series is “Museum Hours,” screening on Nov. 3. Another partner, Cape Ann Massage Therapy hosts a Dinner-And-A-Movie presentation of Salman Rushdie’s drama “Midnight’s Children” on Nov. 10, with a light Indian meal by Anmol of Beverly. In a benefit for the North Shore Health Project, the cinema will screen “Blood Brother” on Nov. 17.
Films that include special appearances include the World War II documentary “The Ghost Army” (Nov. 9), hosted by Rick Beyer, the film’s writer/producer/director. Director Chris Szwedo presents “Eye On The Sixties” (Nov. 14), a film about iconic photographer Rowland Scherman.
Jason DaSilva, director and star of “When I Walk” (Nov. 16), will host a question and answer via Skype after the screening of his film, while Danvers-based B-movie maker Matt Farley presents his horror film “Don’t Let The Riverbeast Get You” (Nov. 16).
A number of premieres are part of the mix as well, including the sports documentary “Lenny Cooke” (Sunday), “God Loves Uganda” (next Tuesday), Costa-Gavras’s financial thriller “Capital” (Nov. 9, with encores the next week). The schedule also includes the controversial “After Tiller” (Nov. 12), the heartwarming “Rising From Ashes” (Nov. 15), and “Bettie Page Reveals All” (Nov. 16).
The other narrative features playing include the sensitive and dramatic hit “The Spectacular Now” (Nov. 2) with encores the next week), the steamy “Concussion” (Nov. 8), the smart comedy “Drinking Buddies” (Nov. 9), the 9/11 drama “The Citizen” (Nov. 10), the Chinese soul-slam “A Touch Of Sin” (Nov. 11 with an encore Nov. 15), the kinetic romance “Five Dances” (Nov. 16), and the ambitious sci-fi “Mr. Nobody” (Nov. 17 with encores) starring Oscar nominee Jared Leto.
Other documentaries in the line-up are “Blackfish” (Nov. 6), “Inequality For All” (Nov. 8) featuring U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Reich who talks about the nation’s growing income gap, and the festival closer, “Shored Up” (Nov. 17), which is about beach erosion and hosted by the local citizens’ group, Sea Commons.
The Cape Ann Community Cinema is located on the second floor at 21 Main St. in Gloucester. The cinema also serves wine and beer.
Most films are $10 adults, $8.50 students and seniors (60+), and $7 for cinema members. Check schedule for special event prices, showtimes and more information at www.CapeAnnCinema.com.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.