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The Reel Queens: P.S.1 goes underground for ‘Greater New York’ showcase

Long Island City’s P.S.1 will screen a roster of experimental, independent and documentary films through October in a section of its underground vault that it recently transformed into a movie theater.

The Greater New York film series kicked off in late May at the museum, which is located at 22-25 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City, and will run through Oct. 18. The screenings have been curated by Light Industry, a Brooklyn venue for electronic art.

“We’ve got a beautiful little cinema space in the vault,” said Ed Halter, who operates Light Industry with Thomas Beard. “P.S.1 bought theater seating from an old cinema that has drink holders. They’ve soundproofed the room, so it sounds really great.”

Halter said the series gives Queens residents a chance to see offbeat films, especially while Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image finishes up its expansion project.

“Right now, this is a great opportunity to see stuff that is not normally available in Queens,” Halter said. “Experimental films are often impossible to see unless the filmmaker screens them himself. So, we wanted to feature emerging filmmakers who have come around in the last five years.”

The series is being held in conjunction with P.S.1’s Greater New York exhibition, which showcases 68 artists and collectives living and working in the five boroughs.

Film screenings in June include films by Wynne Greenwood, K8 Hardy and Elizabeth Subrin as well as filmmaker So Yong Kim’s 2006 feature “In Between Days” and 2008’s critically acclaimed “Treeless Mountain.”

July’s slate showcases the work of Shana Moulton, Jessie Stead, Lucy Raven and Jim Finn as well as documentarian Laura Poitras, who will screen her well-received films “My Country, My Country” and “The Oath,” which was recently released in theaters.

The August selection includes Lee Isaac Chung’s “Munyurangabo” and “Lucky Life,” Margaret Brown’s “The Order of Myths” and Mumblecore affiliate Ronald Bronstein’s unsettling “Frownland.”

In the fall, the series will include live performances by Andrew Lampert and Trisha Baga and screenings of work by Michael Bell-Smith, John Michael Boling, Javier Morales, Ben Coonley, Tara Mateik, Takeshi Murata, Paul Slocum, Dani Leventhal, Fern Silva, Tomonari Nishikawa and Edmond Entwistle.

Work by Michael Robinson, Matt Wolf, Garrett Scott, Ian Olds and Ben Coonley has already been screened at the museum since the series began on May 20.

“We wanted to cull from all different scenes of cinema,” Halter said. “In the past five years, there have been so many interesting documentaries about Iraq and the war.”

One documentary, “Occupation Dreamland,” focused on American soldiers in Iraq prior to the fall of Fallujah while another, “My Country, My Country,” explored the lives of Iraqi citizens in the city after it had fallen.

Halter said he and Beard preferred to screen the films at specific times to ensure that attending the series felt more like going to the movies than visiting a gallery exhibit.

“If we looped everything, it would have felt more like an instillation,” he said. “But we wanted to have a scheduled cinema experience, rather than a video loop in a museum.”

Each screening will take place at 3 p.m. at the theater in P.S.1’s vault. Visitors must pay the admission cost for the museum to see the movies. For a complete schedule, visit the museum’s Web site at www.ps1.org.

Copies of some of the films in the series will be available for sale on DVD at P.S.1’s gift shop. Most of the screenings will include a discussions with filmmakers.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at www.criticalconditions.net.

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