A city’s cinematic identity is shaped by surprisingly few people. For a big-for-Maine but otherwise medium-sized city like Portland, that movie landscape is in the hands of local movie programmers, event coordinators, and those motivated few others who – to use an inside filmmaking term – give a crap. I call them heroes, and I mean it.

Among that number has always been Greg Jamie, who, as booker and partner at Portland’s Apohadion Theater, has always made it part of his mission to keep the Maine film scene that much weirder, more adventurous and all-around more rewarding. (Look for such Apohadion lockdown virtual screening reviews as art-horror-sleaze cult film “Thundercrack!” and the recent documentary about still-battling musical warrior Lydia Lunch.) 

And now Jamie has expanded that mission, taking over as the film programmer for Portland’s perennially exciting and eclectic performance and art space, Space. Those in the know (and who’ve read this column over the past decade) know how integral Space has been to the local film scene, largely thanks to the efforts of long-time previous Space film guy, Jon Courtney. Courtney now plies his film fanatic’s trade as programmer at PMA Films, with fellow film hero Jamie promising to continue Space’s central role in keeping Portland’s flickering projector lights going. 

Greg Jamie Photo by Ryan Marshall

“I was doing Apohadian/Space screenings as a partnership, and a bunch of outdoor stuff,” Jamie said. “It’s been collaborative and exciting.” And while Jamie’s tenure at Apohadion will continue, he’s launching his curatorial vision at Space in a big, bold, and decidedly Space-centric way.

Anceastralidad y Trance” is a – well, I’ll let Jamie describe Space’s newly-launched website presenting the multifarious works of Mexican art and film group Colectivo los Ingrávidos.

“It’s a quintessential art and experimental film portal,” Jamie said of the five-months-in-the-making project. “It’s an exciting place I like to see Space inhabit, doing something outside the conventional way of presenting film.”

And “Anceastralidad y Trance” is certainly that. An intentionally non-linear, immersive cinematic experience, the site (curated by Colectivo los Ingrávados’ Almudena Escobar López, and designed by Gaile Pranckunaite and Mindaugas Ūba) presents visitors with a stylized Aztec sun stone. Tracing your cursor over the figure reveals enigmatic pictures and hints of what lies a click away, with 40 short films and various texts, all representing an aspect of the collective’s cinematic mission. That mission, according to Jamie, is best experienced and explained by the filmmakers themselves through exploration of the site, but the “About” section proposes to take viewers into a “spatiotemporal trance where myth, violence, ancestry, precariousness and extinction, generate multiple speculative and multinaturalist cinematic perspectives.” Fair enough. 

I’ve delved into the site for several hours now, and, if not entranced, I’ve certainly been challenged, entertained and intrigued by what I’ve discovered. As Jamie says, the journey into his first Space venture is part of the point, noting, “It’s doing something outside of the conventional way of presenting film, with the movies leaning heavily on art through the lens of politics as well. It represents a good starting place in my brain.”

Plus, since all theatrical plans must take the pandemic into account, Jamie says that the website’s intrinsic mystery provides the added impetus for movie-starved but still-wary viewers to find some much-needed entertainment. “Sure, you can ask people to sit and watch 40 films, but that’s not the point of the site.”

That’s a novel way to approach his Space tenure, but Jamie also assures Portland’s moviegoing public that Space (in accordance with all sensible COVID guidelines) will be reopening for in-person screenings again – very soon.

Oct. 13 will mark Space’s return indoor screenings, Jamie said, excitedly extolling the virtues of director Amalia Ulman’s deadpan indie “El Planeta.”

“It’s got something kind of old-fashioned and contemporary at the same time,” he said of the darkly comic tale of a mismatched mother and daughter seeking equally unstable ways of coping with financial disaster. “Think Miranda July and early Jim Jarmusch at the same time.” 

And don’t sleep on The Apohadion, where Jamie promises the return of live screenings around the corner, starting Oct. 15 with the completely bananas cult horror/drama/other that is Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 film “Possession.” In a newly restored presentation, the Isabelle Adjani/Sam Neill-starring movie is about a couple with, let’s call them “problems,” including the fact that Adjani’s increasingly unhinged partner may or may not be having sex with/giving birth to something unspeakable. 

It’s just the sort of movie that Jamie and The Apohadion ensure will never be far from Maine moviegoers’ consciousness, and exactly the right film to welcome viewers back. Said Jamie, admiringly, “We were looking to get kind of a statement film,” noting that “Possession’s” “fun, perverse” thrills are just what pandemic-numbed audiences need. So here’s to our local movie heroes like Greg Jamie, who know what we’re looking for, even if we don’t.

You can experience the mind-expanding puzzle that is “Anceastralidad y Trance” at ancestralidadytrance.space. For tickets, listings and info on the returning-in-full-force roster of films at Space and The Apohadion Theater, check out those fine organizations’ respective websites. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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