Aquehonga Cinema Brings Fringe Movies to Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi on March 14, 2014 7:31am 

 Staten Island filmmakers David Givens and David DiLillo started Aquehonga Cinema series of film screening in February 2014 to give a place for residents to view foreign, fringe and independent films.
Staten Island filmmakers David Givens and David DiLillo started Aquehonga Cinema series of film screening in February 2014 to give a place for residents to view foreign, fringe and independent films.
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Facebook/Aquehonga Cinema

ST. GEORGE — A new movie series aims to screen fringe, independent and overlooked classic films for Staten Islanders, without having to leave their home borough.

Aquehonga Cinema started last month by friends and filmmakers David DiLillo, 25, and David Givens, 25 with a screening of silent films.

The pair aim to fill a void of independent film on the island.

The series, named after the Native American name for Staten Island, debuted in February with a screening of short silent films by movie maker Maya Deren. It was shown at tech space Make.SI with a live band playing over the movie, like they did in early theaters.

Aside from giving residents of the borough a place to view independent or foreign films, Givens said he wanted to show a pride of the island often forgotten by people.

"Part of it is to show a little pride in the North Shore and Staten Island altogether," said Givens, a freelance filmmaker and actor.

The group plans to do at least one screening a month, and has a double feature of film noir movies planned for March 26 at the Deep Tanks Art Studio.

The screening, titled Island Detour, will show the 1945 movie "Detour," hailed by Robert Ebert as "haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir," with Givens own short "An Island, Entire of Itself" which was filmed in parts of the borough.

Currently, the curators are just planning on sticking to the large amount of public domain films, but will add things like live music and discussions.

"The idea that we can have physical events and get people to come out instead of stream binge or just watching things alone," DiLillo said.

"I think there's magic in watching things together and then talking about it. It's like a shared dream, a shared experience."

The idea for the series started when Given and DiLillo wanted to start a theater in the borough to show independent or fringe films, but decided the best, and cheapest, way to start was with the film series.

And while the focus will be primarily on more art house cinema, Givens said they plan to show some lighter fare — like a zombie film or rom-coms — to give viewers a break from German expressionists.

"We'll definitely fit in a good date movie every now and then," Givens said. "It's going to be hopefully a nice mix of commercial and obscure."

Though the duo was happy that some viewers traveled from other boroughs to the first screening, DiLillo said the focus will mainly be on drawing Staten Island locals.

"It's mostly a screening by Staten Islanders for Staten Islanders," he said.

The next screening, "Island Detour," will be on March 26 at Deep Tanks Studio, 150 Bay St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are $5.

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