I wonder if one of the unexpected benefits of watching a movie at a library is that people will be less inclined to talk during the film. I mean, there’s that long history of shushing

Well, I forgot to ask Rachael Weyand, programming director for the Portland Public Library’s Summer Documentary Film Series about that.

But she did fill me in on the library’s second season of screening the documentaries in PBS’ acclaimed “POV” (Point-of-View) series, now under way.

“We’re actually showing the ‘POV’ schedule as it’s shown on PBS, but about a month before, so we’re calling them a sneak preview,” said Weyand. “A lot of these films don’t get commercially distributed, so this will be the only time to see some of them.”

That (apart from the presumed quiet of a library viewing experience) provides additional incentive to get Portland movie fans to head out to the library’s Rines Auditorium to check out a truly varied and challenging series of films. (The full schedule can be found at portlandlibrary.com/programs/programs.htm.) Having begun on May 23 with the story of a Tibetan monk struggling with his decision to abandon his preordained role in the documentary “My Reincarnation,” the series runs weekly through the end of August and continues this week with “The City Dark.”

Following the journey of filmmaker Ian Cheney, who moved from rural Maine to the “city that never sleeps” NYC and suddenly wondered where all the stars went, “The City Dark” examines the phenomenon of light pollution and how it affects our lives. The documentary screens at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and, like every film in the series, will be followed by a discussion led by the library’s AV coordinator, Patti Delois, and/or a guest speaker.

“Patti’s well-versed in film, and leads great discussions,” said Weyand, “and we will also line up someone from the community with an association to the film’s subject when we can.”

The film series is also branching out in its second year with additional screenings of some films at Portland’s Reiche School on the mornings of the library showing. (That schedule, in association with the West End Neighborhood Association, is coming soon. Check wenamaine.org for details.)

So, great documentaries, guest speakers — what else could draw Portlanders out to watch a movie at the library? Weyand pitches, “Well, they’re free, there’s coffee, it’s cool, and screenings are at 5:30 so it’s still light when they get out, and you can still enjoy the evening.”

I’m sold.

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.

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