Berkshire County — On Tuesday, April 4, at 7 p.m., the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington and the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, in partnership with the Four Freedoms Coalition, will join more than 180 independent movie theatres in 165 cities and 43 states across the country to offer free screenings and post-film moderated discussions of the feature film “1984.” The film, based on George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel of the same name, stars John Hurt and Richard Burton. The screening date was chosen due to the fact that it is the day the protagonist, Winston Smith, begins rebelling against his government by keeping a forbidden diary.
“I strongly believe in supporting the National Endowment for the Arts,” said theatre owner Richard Stanley. “Any attempt to scuttle that program is an attack on free speech and creative expression and would be devastating to the Berkshires. By offering these free screenings to our community, we are reminded of the dangers of censorship and authoritarianism, and the importance of the arts in warning us.”
A joint statement on behalf of all of the theaters involved in this event noted: “Orwell’s novel begins with the sentence, ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ Less than three months into the new presidential administration, theater owners collectively believe the clock is already striking thirteen. Orwell’s portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier. The endeavor encourages theaters to take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as ‘alternative facts.’ By doing what they do best – showing a movie – the goal is that cinemas can initiate a much-needed community conversation at a time when the existence of facts, and basic human rights are under attack. Through nationwide participation and strength in numbers, these screenings are intended to galvanize people at the crossroads of cinema and community, and bring us together to foster communication and resistance against current efforts to undermine the most basic tenets of our society.”
The screenings will be followed by moderated discussions coordinated by the Four Freedoms Coalition and led by Virginia O’Leary at the Beacon and Asma Abbas and Wesley Brown at the Triplex.
Retired social psychology professor and Berkshire OLLI instructor O’Leary is professor emerita of psychology and former chair of the psychology department at Auburn University, as well as a 2005 Fulbright scholar in Nepal. She is the author of “Toward Understanding Women,” “Women, Gender and Social Psychology,” and “Storming the Tower: Women in Academe Around the World.” She has served on the board of directors and as deputy executive officer for public affairs for the American Psychological Association.
Abbas is associate professor of politics and philosophy at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. She is also the founding director of Hic Rosa, an art, politics, and education collective which hosts the Falsework School in the Berkshires and abroad. She is the author of “Liberalism and Human Suffering: Materialist Reflections on Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics” and several published essays. She is working on two book-length manuscripts: “Another Love: A Politics of the Unrequited” and “In the Ninth Circle of Hell: Betrayal, Translation, and Politics.”
Brown is visiting professor in social studies and the arts at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. He is the author of three novels, three produced plays and a forthcoming volume of short stories titled “Dancing With the Infidels.” He is the co-editor of the multicultural fiction anthology “Imagining America” and the multicultural nonfiction anthology “Visions of America,” as well as editor of “The Teachers and Writers Guide to Frederick Douglass.” He is professor emeritus in English at Rutgers University, having taught there from 1979 to 2005, and was a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College in 2015 and visiting faculty at Bennington College in 2015 and 2016.
Tickets for the screenings are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the theaters during box office hours on the day of the event.
Online information on the nationwide screenings is available.