A new film series in Portland arrives in time for the political season.

The nonprofit arts collective Kinonik presents It’s All Politics, a First Friday Art Walk film series at Low Motion, the former Movies on Exchange theater space at 10 Exchange St. in the Old Port. It runs through the first week of November. All movies in the monthly series were made before 1960 in black and white, and all were shot on 16mm film.

Friday’s entry is the Italian film “Open City,” set in Italy in 1943 during the height of the German occupation. Roberto Rossellini directed the movie, which was made in 1946 and helped launch the career of actress Anna Magnani. Much of it was filmed in recently liberated Rome in a neo-realist, documentary style. An interesting footnote: Future film director Federico Fellini contributed to the screenplay.

Kinonik received a $5,000 Kindling Fund grant from SPACE Gallery to fund the series.

Organizer Sara Lemieux said she and her peers put the series together because of the election cycle and the current political climate.

“After watching the political conventions, we realize how important this platform is,” she said.

All the movies are designed to provide insight into the motivations and origins of politics with films that examine issues of ego, power and the moral obligations of leaders. Friday’s movie is about the reaction of citizens to authoritarian power.

“The moral and ethical question of the film focuses on how one resists,” said Skylar Kelly, a Kinonik founding board member. “The Nazis impose a political system on the people of Rome, and we watch throughout the movie as children, men, women and clergymen resist this occupation in a different way.”

The series began in July with “The Third Man,” written by Graham Green. Other films include “The Great Dictator” on Sept. 2, “La Grande Illusion” on Oct. 7 and “Citizen Kane” on Nov. 4.

Critics have praised the movie for its strong performances and criticized it for its melodrama. It was considered racy at its time, with references to cocaine and a “lesbo German spy.”

The films in the series come from the private collection of retired University of Southern Maine art professor Juris Ubans, who also is on the Kinonik board. The Portland Museum of Art donated the 16mm projector, which hadn’t been used for several years.

Kinonik’s goal is exposing people to projected film and providing a place for discussion before and after the film. The films are screened at one of Portland’s revered movie spaces. The old Movies on Exchange was always a little rough with a basement feel and still is. Kinonik has cleaned up the space a bit, flattening the floor and creating enough room for about 100 people on folding chairs.

The space, Lemieux said, “is exposed to time, and we are working with the original floors and those beautiful old walls. It’s not like going to the Cinemagic and sitting down in a completely black new theater.”

The lobby feels like a theater’s backstage, and there’s a retro-looking box office. Dennis Levasseur, the original projectionist at Movies on Exchange, helped clean and refurbish the projector.

“The hope is that a series like this will attract people who are interested in a topic and use the theater as incubator, or a place to congregate with like-minded individuals, and have it be a collaborative discussion,” Lemieux said. “We want to create an absolutely excellent screening experience, but we also want to create a culture where the expectation is you show up early and stay late.”

Doors open at 7:45 p.m., and a short preview begins at 8 p.m. The feature begins at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $5.

“We just want to create an environment where people can come and be exposed to the work and engage in the tradition of film itself,” Kelly said.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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