George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” screened in 16mm

In 1968, George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” revolutionized horror by defining the modern zombie and placing the genre in a contemporary context where social commentary could be made. This Friday, Digital Gym Cinema and See It on 16mm will pay homage to the horror classic by screening it in the format it was shot on.

Michael Aguirre didn’t grow up watching movies on actual 35mm and 16mm prints (numbers refer to film width, 35mm being the Hollywood theatrical standard). But when he saw his first film on film, he fell in love with it.

“But seeing it on film for the first time was a different experience,” Aguirre said. “And ever since then, I’ve been really hooked. A year or two later, I started collecting movie prints, which is a big mistake. You’re chasing a dragon at this point, it’s kind of like but It’s magic to me.”

Magical enough to inspire him to start a company called “See It on 16mm” and travel across the state with a 16mm projector in tow and a stack of film prints.

“It’s my life that calls me at this point to screenprint, to restore prints,” Aguirre said. “I’m currently attending graduate school for archival and restoration, so I hope to dedicate the rest of my life to preserving this material, because we’re not going to have it forever.”

Courtesy of Michael Aguirre

Michael Aguirre of ‘See It on 16mm’ with his projector set up at an event. Undated photo.

For this Friday night’s screening, Aguirre will bring his projector and set up shop in the new Digital Gym Cinema space at Park and Market. Space is limited, so he’ll only have one projector and have to do what he calls “20-second reel changes,” which will only make the projection more fun and exciting.

Aguirre is quick to point out that watching 16mm film isn’t perfect.

“So if you’re looking for perfection, if you’re looking for crisp, clear images, stick with digital,” Aguirre said. “But if you’re into analog and there’s an imperfection about it, there’s great appeal. The film has a history with the prints. Many audiences saw them before they became my property at this point. And you see scratches, sometimes you see skips, you see seams, which are little tears in the film that you have to fix. So I liken that to listening to a record, like a original record. There are breaths, there are pops. It’s not perfect, but this experience of seeing it on film, on the big screen, it’s a magical feeling that you can’t really get anywhere else nowadays. I really believe that it is a special event whenever a film can be shown on the big screen.

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Duane Jones plays Ben in George Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Since 1968, it was rare to have a black actor in a main hero role.

For me, there is a magic and a romance to seeing a film on film as opposed to digital projection. And it’s especially fitting to see Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” in 16mm.

“It was actually shot in 16 millimeters on a bunch of information equipment that Romero had,” Aguirre said. “It wasn’t shot on 35mm like the big Hollywood films. It was on 16mm. So just to be able to see the film in the correct format it was actually shot on and not zoomed into a bigger picture , I think it’s really magical.”

Aguirre had to get a special lens in Holland to do the screening and he’ll be showing horror-themed 16mm trailers and maybe even some snack bar commercials to get everyone in the mood. of a vintage cinematic experience.

“Night of the Living Dead” will be screened in 16mm Friday night at the Digital Gym Cinema. The 7:00 p.m. show is already sold out but tickets are still available for the 9:30 p.m. show.