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Columbia College Chicago

Where the Past Comes Back to Life

Film historian Matthew C. Hoffman (BA ’98) is the programmer of the Park Ridge Classic Film series hosted by the Pickwick Theatre.

The most recognizable landmark in Park Ridge is the PIckwick Theatre—an Art Deco building dating back to 1928. Already known for his popular spring film programs at the Park Ridge Public Library, Hoffman wants the Chicago metropolitan area, especially classic movie buffs, to attend and spread the word about the series that both families and film students can appreciate. He has been a dedicated employee of the Circulation department at the Park Ridge Public Library since his graduation from Columbia College. His personal passion for older films and the programs he has developed are specifically designed to introduce younger generations of film goers to cinematic gems that are rarely, if ever, shown.

Hoffman acknowledges that although some people may be initially attracted to come for the retro experience of seeing an old movie, they end up really liking what they’ve seen. They begin to understand that these films still have something to say. “Movies aren’t old if you’ve never seen them before,” Hoffman says. “I re-examine every film and amplify their relevance to us today. If you come to the Library series, it’s like a free film course. If you come to the Pickwick Theatre, you’re seeing these films the way they were meant to be seen—on a big screen.”

His previous programs for the library include Film Noir, Forbidden Cinema, Legends of Laughter, Screen Deco, and Crossed Swords. His spring 2014 program will be titled The Rediscovered. Matthew’s new program for the Pickwick Theatre, which launched in September, was recently featured on WGN Morning News with Dean Richards.

This past spring, Hoffman brought Tyrone Power’s youngest daughter, Taryn Power-Greendeer, to the Park Ridge Public Library, and although they didn’t appear in person, both Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter and Buster Keaton’s granddaughter contributed special introductions to the Legends of Laughter film series in 2011. Next spring, he will have Claude Rains’ daughter, Jessica, as a special guest as well as actress Irene Dunne’s granddaughter. Capping off the 2013-2014 season, the Tyrone Power family will return in May to the Pickwick for the Power Centennial.

Hoffman was the program director and sole projectionist for Chicago’s LaSalle Bank revival house from 1999-2003. He was offered the position by Scott Marks, a former CA+S faculty member. Hoffman studied film at Columbia under Marks and is currently a graduate student working on his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. He is also a regular contributor to the old-time radio magazine Nostalgia Digest and is administrator of the largest “Film Noir” movie group on Facebook.

The Thief of Bagdad (1924) was featured on November 20, 2013 with live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren of the Silent Film Society of Chicago.

Screenings begin at 7:30 pm. Admission is $7/$5 for seniors.  Click here for the screening schedule.