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Surprises abound at Film Society's 36th Annual Sci-Fi Movie Marathon

Adam Spektor

Issue date: 1/21/11 Section: Focus
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Every January, there's a 24-hour period in which Strosacker Auditorium is a sight to behold. Anywhere up to a few hundred people pack the seats and the lobby, many with sleeping bags, ready for a makeshift overnight auditorium campout. Guests both college-age and older are united, sharing a somewhat unorthodox common interest. They have all gathered together for the CWRU Film Society's 36th-annual Sci-Fi Movie Marathon, a monstrous 28-hour non-stop movie-going experience that is the organization's annual banner event.

This year's marathon featured a wide range of films, a number of which go beyond the popular concept of "sci-fi" to provide audience-pleasing diversity. Among the films shown were blockbuster action flick Transformers, horror cult classic Night of the Living Dead, and David Cronenberg's markedly gruesome remake of The Fly. The event's schedule also promised three "surprises," all of which delivered upon a number of different levels.

Preparations for this year's event were hasty, especially giventhat Film Society co-director Lars Benthien did not know until days before the event that he would be the group's only director. "The days leading up to the 'Thon were pretty hectic," said Benthien. "We were scrambling to secure the prints of a few obscure titles, and honestly didn't know if we would need to switch out a film or two until the day before."

The Film Society screens their films using 35mm reels, a practice that, in recent years, has been eschewed by many major theaters and is used primarily by independent theaters and film societies. "3 mm films are getting harder and harder to find because film companies just won't keep them around," said longtime Film Society member Patty Marvel.

The marathon did not see as high a turnout as in years past, with about 170 general admission passes sold this year compared to about 200 last year. Benthien attributes this as a reflection of the national economy, saying, "a number of people I've been in contact with said they were unable to make the event because travel costs are too high."
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