On the silver screen: Penn State Altoona Film Series kicks off with ‘E.T.’ Sunday

The Penn State Altoona Film Series is making its return this weekend with a friendly alien and his familiar favorite candies.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” will play at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Penn State Downtown Devorris Center as the first in a slate of regular film screenings that will last until May.

Attendance is free, and free popcorn and drinks will be provided. All movies start at 6 p.m.

Penn State Altoona history instructor Jared Frederick selects the films, and he said he always tries to pick “a diverse mix.”

“We have everything from classics from the 1940s and ’50s up to more contemporary films,” Frederick said. “What we’re trying to do here is we’re really trying to reach out to the local community and, in many ways, give them a cultural asset.”

Each screening has a theme of sorts, according to a news release, and Frederick said that people who participate can win prizes.

For example, for “E.T.,” anyone who brings a package of Reese’s Pieces – the bite-sized candy that the titular alien developed quite a taste for – will have the chance to win a copy of the DVD.

Other movie nights encourage participants to make a charity donation or wear a particular type of clothing connected to the movie.

“It’s not just about sharing a love and appreciation of movies and cinema,” Frederick said. “We really try to be a grassroots entity.”

This year’s movies may span decades, but they also include a variety of genres and ratings, so films for both kids and adults are included.

But, Frederick said, he thinks people will be most excited about the older films, because they’re far less likely to catch a 50-year-old flick in the theater.

“A lot of these movies haven’t played in theaters in decades,” he said, “and the opportunity to see something like ‘Psycho’ on the big screen with a large audience, it really adds another unique dimension to the movie watching experience.”

Plus, he said the Downtown Devorris Center is really a venue that can grow into a key place for activities in the area.

“It’s one additional venue that can infuse some life into downtown events,” Frederick said.

Mirror Staff Writer Paige Minemyer is at 946-7466.