Meg Knowles – Cultivator Profile

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.

THE CULTIVATORS #012

MEG KNOWLES

Meg Knowles. Photo by Michael Niman.

Curator – Beyond Boundaries Film & Discussion Series | Artist – documentary & experimental media | Associate Professor, Communication Department – Buffalo State College
Website: knowleme.wixsite.com / Twitter: @MegKnowles

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What got you interested in movies?

Although my family didn’t go to the movies a lot when I was a child, my father liked to watch old black and white movies late at night on television. He got me started watching films like The Philadelphia Story and All About Eve. Later, I worked with my high school English / Film teacher as a projectionist at the local Drive-In showing second run films like Annie Hall. He taught an inspiring course on the Auteur Theory in film, focused largely on the films of Jean Renoir and John Ford.

I made my first film in high school with a 3/4″ portapak video camera—it was a creative interpretation of an Emily Dickinson poem.

What is your favorite movie related memory?

In college—in the time just before VCRs—the only way to see films outside of the local movie theater was watching the films programmed on campus. The screenings of both current and older movies were big weekend events, but the films would arrive in heavy 35 millimeter cases earlier in the week.

I had friends who wrote film reviews for the school paper and they would hold secret preview screening parties, privately projecting the films for a handful people. It felt exciting and glamorous to go to a private screening of a hard-to-find cheesy classic film like Giant or All That Heaven Allows.

How did you end up in Buffalo?

I’m from Buffalo. I worked in New York as a talent agent for a number of years after college, but returned to Buffalo around 1990 to study documentary filmmaking at UB Media Study, where my mother was the assistant to the chair.

What do you want to see more of in Buffalo?

I’m pretty happy with Buffalo, but I suppose I would like to see movie theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas that serve food and drinks and have interesting curated series and performances with films (like a memorable foleyed version of The Wizard of Oz).

The North Park has been getting close to that over the past couple of years with its weekend special screenings. I feel that’s something that will really get people out to the theaters again.

What are your essential film books?

  • Walter Murch – In the Blink of an Eye
  • Eric Rabiger – Directing the Documentary
  • Michel Chion – Audio Vision
  • Sheila Curran Bernard – Documentary Storytelling
  • Bill Nichols – Blurred Boundaries
TOP TEN FILMS

I don’t usually do favorite lists! Here are 10 narratives and 10 docs (in alphabetical order):

Narrative

  • Amour [2012], directed by Michael Haneke
  • Days of Heaven [1978], directed by Terrence Malick
  • Election [1999], directed by Alexander Payne
  • Gosford Park [2001], directed by Robert Altman
  • Groundhog Day [1993], directed by Harold Ramis
  • Local Hero [1983], directed by Bill Forsyth
  • Magnolia [1999], directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Moonrise Kingdom [2012], directed by Wes Anderson
  • Run Lola Run [1998], directed by Tom Tykwer
  • Their Finest [2017], directed by Lone Scherfig

Documentary

  • The Act of Killing [2012], directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
  • Capturing the Friedmans [2003], directed by Andrew Jarecki
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop [2010], directed by Banksy
  • Happy Mother’s Day [1963], directed by Joyce Chopra & Richard Leacock
  • The Imposter [2012], directed by Bart Layton
  • Sink or Swim [1990], directed by Su Friedrich
  • Streetwise [1984], directed by Martin Bell
  • The Thin Blue Line [1988], directed by Errol Morris
  • Tongues Untied [1989], directed by Marlon Riggs
  • Touching the Void [2003], directed by Kevin Macdonald

Film stills from left to right, top to bottom are The Philadelphia Story, All About Eve, Annie Hall, Giant, All That Heaven Allows, The Wizard of Oz and North Park Theatre’s repertory marquee.

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