Movie curator, writer to teach film critic class

Another poster for the Lynwood Theatre.

Tova Gannana’s passion for film has provided her with many opportunities, her latest a film critic class she will lead in the fall through the BI Metropolitan Parks & Recreation District.

Gannana’s main job now is a waitress at Bruciato but she has many side jobs relating to film curation and essay writing, which she hopes one day will turn into a full-time career.

A film curator chooses films to be shown in a certain order. “Film curation is just so much fun, to put things together in that way,” she said.

The film critic class will start in late September. Gannana will lead the class to explore films through all aspects. For each film, she will provide a packet that contains poems, interviews, fashion trends, film reviews and more to give participants as much context as possible.

Participants watch the film at home and then the class meets in person at Prue’s House later to discuss the film and their packet. Gannana has not picked the films but will as they get closer to the starting date Sept. 22.

The first class will be in two sessions — one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The first class will run five weeks through Oct. 13. Each week a new film will be shown. Cost is $40.

Gannana is also going to lead another film critic class in late October through mid-November. Anyone can participates. This will be Gannana’s first time teaching the class.

“I want people to have fun and to enjoy themselves; maybe see films that they haven’t seen before,” she said. “How it connects to their lives and their understanding of history. When watching films there are three elements: curiosity, kindness and bravery.”

Film background

Gannana, 39, grew up in St. Paul, Minn., before moving to Israel for 10 years. In 2010, she moved to Bainbridge, when she began to pursue her film dreams.

In 2014, she began curating films and writing film essays at The Varsity in Seattle, and then at the BI Museum of Art. She has done most of her work with the Lynwood Theatre and for the past few years has written film essays for the Seattle Art Museum Film Department, which has since shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would come up with a title for the film series,” Gannana said. “Then I would pick the films I wanted to do. On that day, people would show up. The film would start, I would introduce it, and we’d all watch the film. Afterward, if people wanted to hang out and talk a little bit I would lead a discussion.

“Then there was also the film essay component – basically what I want to do at the parks and rec. Depending on the series I wore vintage clothing to complement the era. So when we did film noir I wore 1940s-1950s suits.”

“Movies are made to entertain, and they say a lot about the times in which they were made,” she went on to say. “There is so much to be said about films, from the star gossip to studio facts, from the news to the popular music and books of the day. Looking at a film can also be like looking at a historical document. When I am researching a film for an essay I look at old film reviews, songs that came out the same year, and interviews on youtube with the director and cast.”

To make up for that lost work at SAM during the pandemic, Gannana found other ways to get her work out there, including posting essays on her Instagram and online through Far Away Entertainment (which manages Lynwood Theatre and The Varsity). She even asked Bruciato chef/owner Brendan McGill to allow her to publish movie recommendations with a certain food in their newsletter.

“I’m basically always looking for ways to incorporate film into my life,” Gannana said.

When in the midst of the film curation process, Gannana said she thinks of it as an album. She doesn’t base it off a timeline per se but rather leans on the title of films and how they lead into each other, much like an album. Adding the essay component to the film curation brought her ideas full circle.

“I’m a writer, and I’ve always written about whatever it is that I’m doing,” she said. “For me, it started with poetry. I was writing poems about the film. When I actually started doing series for the public, to me, it felt like the essays were an essential component. It’s like my contribution…my part of the art. I wanted to do something more than just show a series of films.”

Gannana said the archives of film throughout history are so dense that she doesn’t ever think she’ll become an expert. “You’re always learning new things,” she said. “It’s just like an endless exploration, basically.”

With all the films that she watches, it’s understandable that her favorites often change. She cited Tapei Story and Klute as two movies that have her focus right now.

“I like films that really stick with you that you think about in moments when you’re not watching them,” Gannana said. “They are important to continue to screen. It’s not just about the movies that are coming out now. You don’t just read books from today. You read books from any era.”

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