Jared Mobarak

Buffalo is full of people helping to cultivate cinema and we want to celebrate those involved. The Cultivators is a new monthly feature in which we highlight individuals who are integral to the presentation, promotion and production of film here in the queen city.

Photo by Rich Wall.



Graphic Designer | Art Director at Cultivate Cinema Circle | Film Critic at The Film Stage and BuffaloVibe
Website: jaredmobarak.com | Twitter: @jaredmobarak


What got you interested in movies?

I’ve been a movie fan ever since I was a kid. My family would have movie nights and go to Blockbuster weekly when not attending the local multiplex; our collection of VHS tapes ever-growing with HBO recordings and egg-shell Disney titles for my little sister until the advent of DVD took over.

It wasn’t until after I graduated high school in 2000 that I really started delving into cinema beyond the studio blockbuster system. I had started consciously buying letterboxed videocassettes from the smallest of sections at the back of MediaPlay and purchased my first DVD player early on around 1999 (my parents held on to VHS for another year or two). I began going to Dipson Theatres Amherst to see the likes of Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and Christopher Nolan’s Memento after reading M. Faust’s reviews in (at the time) Artvoice.

Then our family friend introduced me to David Lynch. He told me to seek out Lost Highway and then Blue Velvet. From there he had me go to Dune and Eraserhead. I fell in love with Lynch’s surrealism and wild ideas. That’s when I finally understood there was more to cinema than pure entertainment. This was literally an art form to admire.

What is your favorite movie related memory?

I’m not sure I could come up with a “favorite” memory, but I do have many that come to mind. Here are three:

My earliest is seeing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at a drive-in in Florida (it must have been during the 1985 re-release or later since I was born in Buffalo in 1982, the year it bowed, and obviously wouldn’t have remembered that). The memory has a dream-like quality of brief image flashes and nothing else, but I’m pretty certain it actually happened.

The first time I ever went to Dipson Amherst was for The Blair Witch Project in 1999. I had been following the faux history of that tape online and in the papers—my excitement level at a fever pitch. My older sister and I brought my cousin who was visiting from Pennsylvania with us and I remember enjoying its tense atmosphere immensely.

And I’ll never forget my first screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Friend and fellow Buffalo-based critic Christopher Schobert and I walked into the box office with nothing but vouchers and a desire to see two or three movies a day for the weekend. The next available screening was Juno and we both agreed to liking Jason Reitman’s Thank You For Smoking as well as Ellen Page’s turn in Hard Candy. So we said, “Yes.” Diablo Cody was in attendance wearing a Superman tee and she and Reitman came out after for a lengthy Q&A. We’ve gone back to TIFF every year since.

How did you end up in Buffalo?

I’m a born and raised Buffalonian save a five-plus year stint between the ages of three and nine in Ft. Lauderdale. I went to college for graphic design at UB and have been lucky enough to stay local for work ever since.

What do you want to see more of in Buffalo?

I remember reading an article years ago that someone wanted to buy the old Memorial Auditorium for a dollar and turn it into studio space to bring some of the Hollywood money siphoning off to Toronto our way. It obviously didn’t happen.

Interestingly enough, however, once that site was ripped down to help bolster the burgeoning Canalside district and shine a light on the area’s rebirth, film productions came anyway. It’s been great to see stuff like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the ShadowsMarshall, and even indie fare like Emelie coming here to shoot.

I’d love to see more of this in the future and think that it will only help expose the community to the cinema and reinvigorate a drive to go to theaters like North Park and Dipson more. We’re trying to do that ourselves with Cultivate Cinema Circle bringing films the big cities like New York and Los Angeles are getting—stuff a Regal Cinemas wouldn’t attempt here. Building that audience and opening the region up to cinema beyond mainstream fare can put Buffalo on the map as a movie market destination.

What are your essential film books?

I honestly don’t read many books on cinema. I greatly enjoyed Mark Harris’ Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood and leaf through David Thomson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film every once in awhile, but other than those I generally stick to fiction.

I do remembering thinking Theodore Roszak’s novel Flicker was fantastic on that front. It centers on a UCLA student who falls down the well of classic cinema and onto the path of a mysterious German B-movie auteur named Max Castle. Darren Aronofsky has long been attached to possibly direct an adaptation.

  1. Magnolia [1999], directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968], directed by Stanley Kubrick
  3. Lost Highway [1997], directed by David Lynch
  4. Paris, Texas [1984], directed by Wim Wenders
  5. 8 1/2 [1963], directed by Federico Fellini
  6. Eyes Wide Shut [1999], directed by Stanley Kubrick
  7. It’s a Wonderful Life [1946], directed by Frank Capra
  8. Days of Heaven [1978], directed by Terrence Malick
  9. Pulp Fiction [1994], directed by Quentin Tarantino
  10. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [1966], directed by Mike Nichols

Film stills from left to right, top to bottom are Requiem for a DreamMementoLost Highway, E.T.The Blair Witch ProjectJuno, and the cast of Marshall on set.

Leave a Reply