Screening the Unusual

Cinema 17 at Cagibi Provokes Discussion

  • Cinema 17 at Cagibi Photo Flora Hammond

Cinema 17 gives Montrealers the chance to watch undervalued alternative films while slowly sipping a warm mug of tea, or casually enjoying a beer at Le Cagibi.

Every Monday evening, the café’s backroom crowds with people drawn to marginalized cinema or simply hungry for an exchange of ideas. Founder Charles Tuck says the project aims to be a space for cinema that wouldn’t otherwise get seen.

“People think that everything is available in this digital age,” he said. “They think they can just go on the Internet and download what they want. The true thing is there are so many films that are not surviving that shift from analog to digital recording.”

He created the group last spring, in the height of the student strike. Tuck thought he had to do something that would call for a response from the McGill student body.

“It was really important to try to get people out and engage with the issues,” he said.

Cinema 17 had its first screening in March with Columbia Revolt, in June, Occupation was shown. They are rare documentaries on strikes that took place in Columbia and McGill in the late sixties. Both were presented to address the socio-political context.

Since September, the student-run film club has settled at Le Cagibi. It also broadened the range of the subjects it explores over the course of the summer.

“My main interest in film has been representation of race, gender, sexuality,” said Tuck. “These are the kind of issues that we try to engage with the films we screen here.”

Although it was created out of an individual initiative, Cinema 17 functions on a participatory model.

“Everyone is welcome all the time to submit films that they want to talk about,” said Tuck. “I get really excited when people have research they want to present.”

Le Cagibi is not just a cool place to watch the film; after each screening a discussion follows. Plus, the cafe’s mismatched furniture, wooden ceiling sand dim lamps provide a good excuse to hang out there after the movie ends.

Until now, the films presented at Cinema 17 were chosen from National Film Board of Canada or McGill’s 16-millimetre collection—saved by a teacher when it was going to be thrown away.

Tuck said he’s thinking of bringing more films to Cinema 17 for the future.

Upcoming at Cinema 17

L.A. Plays Itself (Nov. 19)

L.A. Plays Itself is an experimental hardcore gay porno made in the late sixties. It is said Salvador Dalí repeatedly muttered, “new information for me” during its original screening.

Arthur Lispsett Retrospective (Nov. 26)

Arthur Lipsett was a Canadian director. While he influenced other directors such as Stanley Kubrick or George Lucas, he remained widely neglected by the public.

Cinema 17 at Le Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent blvd.) / Mondays / 8 p.m. / Suggested donation: $5

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