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Richard & Guillermo Del Toro at The Great Digital Film Festival! #GDFF

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 1.20.30 PMI own a lot of DVDs and Blu Rays. In fact, if you poke around the closets, drawers and hidden nooks of my house you’ll uncover old VHS videos and a handful of laser discs as well.

Trouble is, I rarely ever watch them. Given my line of work as a film critic I like having instant access to my favorite movies, but until the day comes when I can erect a giant screen in the den and have 50 people over to watch them with me, my preferred way to see a film will always be in the cinema, surrounded by strangers.

I love a big picture, big sound and hearing the reactions from an audience. There is no better sound than 500 people laughing at the same thing, or a few hundred gasping simultaneously in horror. Movies bring us together and, for my money, are best experienced in large groups.

So, when Cineplex asked me to help program the Great Digital Film Festival I was thrilled. Instead of rooting through dusty piles of DVDs to see some of my favorite films I now have the chance to see them the way they were meant to be seen, on the big screen.

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To choose the films programmer Matt DeVuono and I asked ourselves one question, What movies would we like to see again on the big screen? Seems easy, but we’re both film geeks and the list quickly got unwieldy. We pared it down, looking for connections and anniversaries in amongst all the cool titles we had chosen. Eventually we had a list that included everything from all the X-Men movies, to retro cult hits like The Rocketeer and The Monster Squad, and a twofer from Guillermo Del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy. We also programmed 25th anniversary screenings of Darkman and Dick Tracy, Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2, and for sci fi fans, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Alien and Aliens.

Another of the great pleasures of helping to put this together was the chance to sit and speak, exclusively, to Guillermo Del Toro about the making of Pan’s Labyrinth. It is a beautiful film and he was very open and honest about the challenges of bringing his vision to the screen. That interview will run just before the movie on the Monday and Thursday of the festival.

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The Great Digital Film Festival is the country’s only national film festival, but more than that, it’s a way to reconnect and remember why we loved these movies in the first place.

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