Ben Model

Larry and Liz McNamara are co-owners of the Strand movie theater in Schroon Lake, NY
Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Film Society

About four years ago, movie theatres across the country had to convert from analog to digital projection.  It was costly and small community movie theatres were faced with the possibility of closing their doors.  In the Adirondacks, a “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign raised funds to help local movie houses, and many like the Strand Theatre in Schroon Lake have continued as centers of community entertainment and engagement.  The Strand is now known for its summer classics series that this year features Buster Keaton silent films and “Casablanca.”  Theatre co-owner Larry McNamara tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he partnered with the Adirondack Film Society to be able to offer something in addition, and different, to modern Hollywood blockbusters.

Ben Model at the piano
photo provided

The silent film era involved a pianist or organist playing along live to the action on the screen.  Today, film enthusiasts seeking a taste of the past can see stars like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Lillian Gish on digitized reels accompanied by live music. Movie historian Ben Model is the resident accompanist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  He plays at venues around the world and will be appearing in the Adirondacks on Sunday.   He says the technique engages viewers.