Out of obscurity

Local film society Cinemareno celebrates its one-year anniversary of bringing art house, indie and classic films to the big screen

Cinemareno will show <i>Funny Girl </i>on Valentine’s Day to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the local film society

Cinemareno will show Funny Girl on Valentine’s Day to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the local film society

You could call him the savior of lost celluloid souls. Local filmmaker Stephen Davis is the creator of Cinemareno, a film society that brings back “lost” films to Reno.

“We try to bring films to Reno that don’t play here otherwise,” says Davis, “What we try to do is show an eclectic mix of films, independents, classics or film that otherwise may have missed Reno.”

Davis, himself a filmmaker, debuted his own film a year ago at Cinemareno’s first screening.

This is the one-year anniversary for the society. The film that started it all was my film, 40, which played at several film festivals. [It] is a movie about an independent director with temperamental actors on a road trip to Sundance.”

To mark Cinemareno’s one-year anniversary, the society is showing a restored version of Funny Girl on Valentine’s Day.

“We just try to book films thematically, or in the same genre,” Davis says. “For example, back in June we showed two new indie documentaries, and in April we did two film noir classics. … We are providing an alternative to the mainstream offerings of the Reno area.”

This is the first time moviegoers in Reno will get to see the restored version of Funny Girl on the big screen, Davis says. Columbia Pictures brought the 1968 film, which had suffered negative damage, back to life frame-by-frame three years ago.

And Cinemareno is picking up speed.

“We would like to do more festivals,” Davis says. “One idea is to have a bad movie festival, where we will show the kind of movies that are so bad they’re kind of good—just for fun.”

In April, Cinemareno will put on a film festival dealing with a weightier topic: homosexuality.

“We’re doing something kind of different, kind of a mini film festival, an all-day and evening movie marathon, in cooperation with local gay and lesbian service group SPECTRUM,” Davis says. “They approached us with the idea of putting together the first gay and lesbian film festival for the Reno area, with five feature films and one short, [films] that all have gay themes.”

Such festivals give Reno a chance to see movies that would otherwise only be available on home video—if even that. But the downside of going against the current is a lack of cash flow.

“We use all our own projection and sound equipment, because the only financial support we have is from our own pockets and from ticket sales,” Davis says.

“If people want to support us, they need to come to the screenings.”

Cinemareno is not alone in its mission. Great Basin Film Society serves a similar role, bringing indie, art house and classic films to the area.

It frequently holds late-night classic and cult classic movie screenings at Ark-a’ik, an all-ages club on Fourth Street.

On Great Basin’s Web site, www.gbfs.org, there’s a rhetorical question that sums up the attitude of both film societies: “Would a serious reader accept a market in which only the ‘Top 20’ book titles were sold in any given week?”

Good question.