By Gail McCarthy
---- — A 17-day moviethon featuring more than 34 films opens Friday in Gloucester’s Cape Ann Community Cinema, where music and special guests often take center stage in this intimate space, too.
The cinema, featuring a 110-seat, living-room-style digital movie theater, is about to launch its sixth annual Cape Ann Film Festival, which runs from Friday through Nov. 17 in the downtown space that includes dining tables and couches.
Creative director Robert Newton said the homegrown festival film choices often are driven by patrons. He says he seeks to feature 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 that we use,” Newton said. “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 event features the festival’s guest of honor, Thomas Dolby, the British musician and producer. Dolby will present his film “The Invisible Lighthouse” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and will be narrating, live-scoring and performing foley (sound effects) to his new film. After the film, there will be a question and answer 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, 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 about a 12,000-pound killer orca and interviews with whale experts. Also in the lineup is an HD opera debut and a 2013 horror film shot in Disney parks without permission.
Music always has a high profile at the theater, so of course the film 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, patrons will see Jeff Krulik, director of the cult classic “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” 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.
Newton noted that the public is invited to a free screening of the Cold War comedy “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming!” on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. That’s a story about a 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 will encore on Saturday, Nov. 2. The 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,” being shown on Sunday, Nov. 3. Another partner, Cape Ann Massage Therapy, is hosting 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 feature special appearances include the screening of 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 icon photographer Rowland Scherman.
Jason DaSilva, director and star of “When I Walk” (Nov. 16), will host a question-and-answer session via Skype after the screening of his film, while Danvers-based B-moviemaker Matt Farley presents his horror film “Don’t Let The Riverbeast Get You” (Nov. 16).
A number of premieres are part of the mix, too. They included the sports documentary “Lenny Cooke” (Sunday), “God Loves Uganda” (next Tuesday), and 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.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.
If You Go What: The Cape Ann Film Fest. When: Through Nov. 17. Where: Cape Ann Community Cinema, 21 Main St., Gloucester. How: Most films are $10 for adults, $8.50 for students and seniors (60+), and $7 for cinema members. Check schedule for special event prices, showtimes and more information at www.CapeAnnCinema.com.