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Life projected: Find History and Enchantment with Free Movies at The Library

Friday February 2nd, 2024

Lights! Action! Showtime! It’s movie night at The Library!  

The Library events calendar is stocked with movies for visitors of all ages, from searing documentaries to the dazzling animation of the famous Studio Ghibli.  

“We like to hold community-building events, where parents can watch movies with their kids in a larger setting,” said Library Programming and Outreach Administrator Tynan Edwards.  

For younger audiences, The Library’s flicks often tie into a culturally related take-home craft, such as learning origami for a recent screening of Moana. For last year’s presentation of Hidden Figures, viewers went home with a free copy of the Margo Lee Shetterly book that inspired the movie. 

Films are often connected to the month’s heritage theme. This February, viewers can see Loving, for the moving story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who fought for and won a 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling abolishing interracial marriage bans then in place in many states.  

“These are nice arthouse films that may not be available elsewhere,” said Edwards. “You’re not going to find Loving on Netflix. You’d have to buy it, but we’re showing it for free. We’re trying to find those movies that tell a great story and can be shown to as broad an audience as possible. It’s a way to spark conversations or discover a new point of view.” 

For Women’s History Month in March, The Library partnered with Delta Sigma Theta sorority for a screening of episode 2 of The 1619 Project, the Emmy-winning series based on the New York Times’ exploration of the history and lasting repercussions of slavery.  

Chapter 2 addresses the impact of slavery on women’s bodies and reproductive rights for “an unflinching look at the history of the United States,” said Edwards. “Some would call it controversial, but The Library doesn’t mind being a center for those conversations.”  

In a preview of coming attractions, The Library is partnering with local nonprofits to explore the possibility of showing movies made in languages other than English. The films can help viewers connect with world cultures and allow immigrant residents to enjoy a night at the movies in their native languages. 

“It helps in our endeavor to make The Library someplace everyone can go,” said Edwards. “Just by sharing those viewpoints, it allows us to show a way of life that either connects people to where they’re from or draws people in to learn something new about a culture, a race, a religion, a piece of American history, or a piece of cultural relevance. Movies are a great medium for that.”  

Film series also help highlight The Library’s purpose as a place for more than books, Edwards said – although it never hurts if a non-reading child who comes for a movie “might walk out with a book.” Library staff are always available to help with reading recommendations for learning more about the film’s subject. 

“It allows us to bridge a connection with something we know they like because they’re here to see it,” Edwards said.  

The enchantment of Studio Ghibli 

If you're unfamiliar with Studio Ghibli, its films open new realms in the possibilities of animation. Since 1984, the Japanese studio has produced 24 movies steeped in artistic bedazzlement, with subject matter that may or may not be suitable for younger audiences – but is distinctly not Disney. 

“The animation is so meticulous, and the cinematography is so beautiful and well done,” said Youth Services Coordinator Samantha Lowe. “And the stories are timeless.” 

The American ratings are posted at www.dcls.org and in Compass for each film. The film shown in January, My Neighbor Totoro, is a G-rated tale of childhood. 

“There isn’t a clear villain in the story,” said Lowe. “There are conflicts. There’s a plot, of course, but it’s about experiencing childhood through the eyes of a child. The stories are so powerful. They’re great for so many ages.” 

The Library’s Studio Ghibli series is scheduled for one movie per month, two showings each. The series was inspired by The Library’s Anime Club, where teens share their love of anime and manga while exploring Japanese culture through food and crafts.  

The club members love Studio Ghibli films, Lowe noticed. She also saw that arthouses often host Studio Ghibli festivals, so why not bring them to Library visitors for free entertainment? 

“I just love offering these free opportunities for people to come together for something we love,” said Lowe.  

Movies at Dauphin County Library System: 

Black History Month: Loving, 2 p.m. Feb. 18, East Shore Area Library, for ages 13+. Registration required. 

Women’s History Month: The 1619 Project, 3 p.m. March 17, East Shore Area Library, for ages 16+. Registration required. 

The Year of Ghibli: Winter 2024, Whisper of the Heart, rated G, 2:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 25; The Cat Returns, rated G, 2:30 p.m. March 10 and 24. All screenings are at East Shore Area Library. Registration is required and limited. Check www.dcls.org and quarterly editions of Compass for future screenings. 

  • To register for any screenings, visit www.dcls.org/events or call (717)234-4961 and choose option 6. 

The above piece represents the views of the author and is meant to inspire dialogue and increase understanding and a sense of community. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of The Library. Members are welcome to comment below or contact us privately by using our online contact form >