Last Updated: 4/20/15
Friday, April 10, 2015
10th & Spring Garden Streets, Philadelphia, PA
On Saturday, May 2, the Secret Cinema will present a special film screening called Selected Short Subjects before a concert performance by the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, at the large and popular Union Transfer live music venue.
For this special pre-concert movie program -- still being selected from the Secret Cinema archive, in consultation with Stephin Merritt -- expect an emphasis on filmed pop music spanning multiple decades past and…more past, including clips originally viewed on early film jukeboxes, movie trailers, and other surprises.
Doors will open at 8:00 pm, and the screening will start at 8:30 pm. Tickets are $25.00.
This will be only the second time the Secret Cinema has served as a support act for a musical performance (the first was at a 2009 Halloween concert at the Trocadero, starring the Dead Milkmen). However, in our 23+ year history, we've brought our projection equipment to countless local music venues, and we look forward to lighting up a movie screen at Union Transfer – especially at this concert, with an artist whose music we've long admired.
This show will be the very first date of a rare solo tour for Merritt, who will be accompanied by long-time bandmate Sam Davol on cello. For this series of performances, Merritt will present a set of solo, acoustic versions of selected songs from his extensive catalog. Merritt will perform exactly 26 songs with each song title starting with a different letter of the alphabet and running in alphabetical order.
The concert will be seated, and all-ages.
ABOUT STEPHIN MERRITT: He has written and recorded ten Magnetic Fields albums over two decades, starting with Distant Plastic Trees in 1991. In 1999, the three-CD collection, 69 Love Songs, established Merritt as one of his generation's most talented songwriters and garnered widespread acclaim, including year-end "best of" lists in Rolling Stone, SPIN, The New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post and other national publications.
Between Magnetic Fields releases, Merritt has recorded side projects and albums with his other bands, Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April. In 2009, Merritt scored the Off-Broadway adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline -- for which he received an Obie Award.
Merritt and the Magnetic Fields have performed as part of Lincoln Center's "American Songwriters" series and at BAM's "Next Wave of Song." In 2012, saw the latest Magnetic Fields album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, and in 2013, Merritt released a Future Bible Heroes album, Partygoing. In the fall of 2014, he penned the first-ever musical episode of NPR's popular show, "This American Life." Around the same time, his book 101 Two-Letter Words, a whimsical aid for Scrabble players with illustrations by Roz Chast, was published. An avid film buff, Stephin Merritt has created original scores for the silent films 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Unknown.
"[The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt is] a contrarian* pop genius." -- The New York Times
"The Cole Porter of his generation." -- Rolling Stone
*NOTE: We beg to differ about the "contrarian" label.
ABOUT US: Since 1992, the Secret Cinema has been the Philadelphia area's premiere floating repertory cinema series, bringing hundreds of unique programs to nightclubs, bars, coffee houses, museums, open fields, colleges, art galleries, bookstores, and sometimes even theaters and film festivals. Drawing on its own large private film archive, as well as other collections, the Secret Cinema attempts to explore the uncharted territory and the genres that fall between the cracks, with programs devoted to educational and industrial films, cult and exploitation features, cartoons, rare television, local history, home movies, erotic films, politically incorrect material, and the odd Hollywood classic, as long as it exists on real celluloid -- Secret Cinema screenings never use video/digital projection. While mainly based in Philadelphia, the Secret Cinema has also brought programming to other cities and countries.
I want to apologize for not sending this (or any) email message earlier, and similarly for not updating our website since last August. Probably many of you assumed Secret Cinema had finally gone out of business. Not so. Rather, we had an unexpected, and unwanted "vacation" from our usual activities.
I -- meaning me, Jay Schwartz (I'll drop the usual, royal "we" for now) -- had no choice but to suspend all Secret Cinema duties and events when I was involved in an accident in early September. I was riding my bicycle home, when I was hit by a truck, resulting in a badly broken leg and some other broken bones. I was in the hospital for a week, then in a rehabilitation hospital for another two weeks, and could not put any weight on my leg for over two months.
Three previously announced Secret Cinema events were unfortunately cancelled, although the Chestnut Hill Film Group did manage to provide a digital screening of our planned film presentation of The Unholy Three, with a Don Kinnier musical accompaniment that I regret missing. Meanwhile, I rested and rehabilitated at home, and began physical therapy treatment.
My accident was serious, but could have been much worse, and the good news is that I've made a lot of progress, and expect to be projecting film this month (again, for the Chestnut Hill Film Group; you'll receive email details soon). I'm not walking perfectly yet, and likely will not for a while, but I'm getting around.
Initially I only told those who needed to know about my accident. And then, I continued to put off writing this email until now, for no particularly good reason. The Secret Cinema audience has been very loyal over the years (and I'm soon to start my 24th year doing this!). I regret not keeping you all posted on this sooner, but now you have the facts.
I plan to get things going again as soon as possible, but aside from this month's CHFG event, there is currently nothing booked. So, it will likely take another month or two, at least, to make any events happen.
There are a few screenings I have in mind already, but it is not getting easier to do Secret Cinema. Losing our flagship venue at Moore College of Art a few years ago cost us a lot of momentum, and some other venue partners have cut back their programming recently -- leaving less room on their calendars for Secret Cinema. If you've been following our activities for a while, you've probably noticed that even before my accident, there had been less events than we used to manage to present in past years. That means less funding from ticket sales, yet the ongoing overhead of maintaining our large, ever-growing private film archive (rent, climate control) only gets more expensive. Meanwhile, showing films that can't be seen anywhere else gets harder and harder.
On the other hand, showing films like almost nowhere else became easier. Practically the whole world has turned to digital presentation nearly overnight, to my great disappointment -- and to my continued concerns about keeping the aging Secret Cinema projection gear in repair. Rest assured I plan to keep showing film, and only film, until I finally do stop Secret Cinema, and I hope that isn't anytime soon.
Don't worry, this isn't leading to a Kickstarter campaign where I ask you to pay for my hobby/enterprise. That doesn't make any sense to me. But if any of you have leads on grants we can get, or suitable new Secret Cinema venues, do please get in touch! (Note that suitable venues should have seating for at least 50 people, the ability to be made completely dark, and hopefully not too low of a ceiling). Oh, and if someone can volunteer to make a new and improved website design for us, they'll earn lots of free tickets.
I would also ask all of you to help spread the word of our activities. The press we used to rely on to publicize our events has had a hard time lately also, and I fear that younger generations that might be interested in Secret Cinema screenings are less likely than ever to learn about them (or worse, to confuse us with various other "Secret Cinema"s that adopted the name long after we established it in 1992).
Here are just a few Secret Cinema things to look forward to in 2015: A continuation of the Thomas Jefferson-themed film showings for the APS Museum; what will probably be the most exciting of our many screenings at Eastern State Penitentiary; and yet more programs built around rarely-seen cinematic odds and ends made in Philadelphia long ago. We need to continue doing research to create a full presentation about one fascinating short film that vividly captures long-lost mid-century Center City nightlife. And, we anticipate garnering actual headlines when we announce our recent discovery of some historically significant nitrate film reels that we donated to the Library of Congress for preservation. We have a lot of work to do -- stay tuned!
Secret Cinema will be back soon, and I'd like to thank my doctors, nurses and therapists for making that possible. I'd especially like to thank my number-one caregiver, which is my wife Silvia (whom you may know as the primary Secret Cinema box office staffer!). She selflessly waited on me hand and foot throughout my non-weight-bearing status.
And, I thank all of you for your amazing support through the years.
See you soon!
The Secret Cinema
Channel 29 news piece on Secret Cinema from 1999!
Joey Ramone, R.I.P.
Secret Cinema 1999 Annual Report
Secret Cinema 1998 Annual Report
Secret Cinema 1997 Annual Report
Information about the 1998 Secret Cinema "Class Trip" to the Syracuse Cinefest