Night School could be out forever at Facets
The final bell might ring this weekend for Facets Multimedia's Night School, according to a coproducer of the midnight film screening and lecture series, which has been running at the Lincoln Park cinematheque since 2009. After the latest session—the Halloween-friendly Fright School, which finishes this weekend with James Whale's Frankenstein (1931) and the video-game-influenced animated film We are the Strange (2007) on Saturday—the future of the event is uncertain.
"This upcoming weekend we will host our LAST TWO screenings of Night School at Facets Multimedia," Joseph Lewis, cofounder of the Underground Multiplex, an organization of cinephiles that partners with Facets to produce and promote the offbeat program, wrote in an e-mail this morning.
Facets' Chris Damen, head programmer of Night School, emphasizes that there hasn't been an official decision to end Night School. As a Facets property, the event could carry on without the participation of the Underground Multiplex. However, motivated by sparse attendance at recent sessions, Facets brass are reevaluating whether to bring back the off-the-wall supplement to its Film School curriculum in the spring of 2014, Damen says.
Over the course of four years and more than a dozen sessions, Night School has distinguished itself in part by taking a a close look at films that don't seem to warrant such study. "Horror greats, sci-fi wonders, action and kung-fu whirlwinds, exploitation favorites, classic and contemporary oddities, black comedies, rock 'n' roll docs, crazy animation and much more all go under the microscope at the hands of Facets' movie obsessives," read the Facets site's description for its first session. Session 14, which centered around comedies and was hosted by local standups, included a screening of Billy Madison accompanied by a talk titled "Stupid Is as Stupid Does: Everything That's Funny Isn't Always Smart."
Back in Night School's first run, I attended a showing of the cartoonish British satire Eat the Rich (1987). The lecturer that night was Facets catalog writer, videotheque staffer and Underground Multiplex cofounder Lew Ojeda, who made a glorious entrance by clawing his way out of a tissue-paper cake. It was campy, unexpected and altogether a strange pleasure—which is exactly what Chicago cinephiles will miss if this weekend is indeed Night School's swan song.
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