An original 1923 16mm film projector

16mm Centennial: A Year-Long Series

100 Years of 16mm Film, 1923 – 2023

Throughout all of 2023, the Grand Illusion Cinema is celebrating the 100th anniversary of 16mm film. With specially curated programs featuring 16mm prints, plus 35mm and digital screenings of major movies originally shot on 16mm, we’re highlighting the history and extraordinary impact of the humble format that transformed cinema.

Upcoming Screenings | Past Screenings

First introduced by Kodak in 1923 as a safe and affordable product for the home market, 16mm film evolved to be a respectable professional medium that democratized movie production and distribution.

It became the format of choice for documentary, educational, and news filmmakers. 16mm prints kept countless small cinemas and film societies running, and entertained combat troops on the frontlines. The TV industry used 16mm prints to distribute and broadcast countless programs and movies well into the 1980s. 16mm was the lifeblood of a global industry of independent and commercial filmmaking, and empowered generations of avant garde artists to advance the cinematic art itself. It has even saved historic silent films for which no 35mm prints or negatives survived.

Today, a century later, 16mm film remains an important creative tool used for major (even Oscar-winning) releases by filmmakers including Wes Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Joanna Hogg, Kathryn Bigelow, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Todd Haynes, and many others.

Upcoming Screenings – Now Playing & Coming Soon

Shows will be added throughout 2023! Check back often for the latest info!

Saturday Secret Matinees 2023

1920-1964 · Various Directors & Countries
120min · 16mm
Playing Mar 25

Presented by The Sprocket Society.

The Saturday Secret Matinees blast off with a 15th anniversary season of weekly serial episodes plus secret classic features, all on 16mm film! Save with a series pass!

In the iconic cliffhanger KING OF THE ROCKET MEN (1949), the mysterious Dr. Vulcan is stealing the latest atomic-powered weapons developed by Science Associates, and murdering the scientists! One of them secretly survives and recruits trusted Jeff King to fight back using a cutting-edge rocket suit! Together with reporter Glenda Thomas and a few others, it’s a race against time to stop Dr. Vulcan and his gang of thugs — and their devastating atomic arsenal!

Each week’s episode is paired with a secret feature film. Bi-weekly themes provide clues, but it could be almost anything: thrillers, sci-fi, comedy, art house, a forgotten gem, or a beloved classic.

Feb. 4 & 11: Haunted Avarice
Greed collides with the spirit realm in two art house masterpieces

Feb. 18 & 25: Nuts!
Madcap ‘30s comedy classics, each shown with a comic short

Mar. 4 & 11: Espionage!
Outstanding spy thrillers from the silent and early sound eras

Mar. 18 & 25: Space Epics in Cinemascope
Struggles to survive on hostile planets with hidden secrets. Rare widescreen prints!

Saturday, Mar 25: 1:00 pm

Enys Men

Mark Jenkin · 2023 · United Kingdom
91min · DCP
Playing Mar 31 through Apr 11

Shot on 16mm color filmstock using his own Bolex H-16 SB clockwork camera, director Mark Jenkin’s ENYS MEN is a Cornish folk horror film that evokes the feeling of discovering a reel of never-before-seen celluloid unspooling in a haunted movie palace. This provocative and masterful vision of horror tells the story of a wildlife volunteer (Mary Woodvine) on an uninhabited island off the British coast who descends into a terrifying madness that challenges her grip on reality and pushes her into a living nightmare. Following his BAFTA-winning breakthrough film BAIT, ENYS MEN reasserts Mark Jenkin as one of the U.K.’s most exciting and singular filmmakers.

Part of our 16mm Centennial Celebration Series!

“Are its cultish mysteries for everyone? Undoubtedly not. But if there’s a place in your heart for dark, folky mind-benders that plug into the cosmic energy of remote, oceanic terrain, you should take a trip across Jenkin’s freaky landscape asap.” Philip De Semlyen, Time Out

“The kind of thing the victims in a horror film might watch, just after pulling it from the cellar of a derelict harbour cottage, and shortly before succumbing to some blood-curdling maritime curse.” Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“Jenkin’s style is so unusual, so unadorned, it feels almost like a manuscript culture of cinema. There is real artistry in it.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Friday, Mar 31: 7:30 pm
Saturday, Apr 1: 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm
Sunday, Apr 2: 5:30 pm
Monday, Apr 3: 7:30 pm
Wednesday, Apr 5: 8:00 pm
Thursday, Apr 6: 8:00 pm
Saturday, Apr 8: 4:00 pm
Sunday, Apr 9: 7:30 pm
Tuesday, Apr 11: 7:30 pm


Mark Jenkin · 2019 · United Kingdom
89min · DCP
Playing Apr 1 through Apr 6

Shot on tactile hand-processed black-and-white 16mm film and unfolding with the staccato rhythms of avant-garde cinema, British filmmaker Mark Jenkin’s breakthrough experimental drama marks a singular achievement: an idiosyncratic work of social realism fascinatingly pitched somewhere between documentary and political melodrama.

Martin Ward (Edward Rowe) is a cove fisherman, without a boat. His brother Steven has repurposed their father’s vessel as a tourist tripper, driving a wedge between the brothers. With their childhood home now a getaway for London money, Martin is displaced to the estate above the picturesque harbor. As his struggle to restore the family to their traditional place creates increasing friction with tourists and locals alike, a tragedy at the heart of the family changes his world. Winner of the 2020 BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a Director and Producers.

Part of our 16mm Centennial Celebration Series!

“A creeping, original British work that feels pounded into existence by hand, or possibly belched up by the angry sea.” Ian Mantgani, Sight & Sound

“It’s a genuine modern masterpiece, which establishes Jenkin as one of the most arresting and intriguing British film-makers of his generation.” Mark Kermode, The Guardian

Saturday, Apr 1: 5:30 pm
Sunday, Apr 2: 3:30 pm, 7:30 pm
Wednesday, Apr 5: 6:00 pm
Thursday, Apr 6: 6:00 pm

Ex-Hippies and Smartasses: Underground Comedies from the ‘60s and ‘70s

Various Directors · 1964-1978 · USA
93min · 16mm
Playing Apr 4

Comedy shorts from the art house and underground cinema circuits of the 1960s and 1970s, all on 16mm film. A mix of favorites and forgotten gems made by ex-hippies and smartasses, with the screen debuts of several future stars, these independently produced films are hilarious examples of the last gasp of the theatrical comic short.

You’ll see spoofs of Ingmar Bergman and a certain sci-fi blockbuster; social satires on relationships, gender roles, and middle class somnambulism; skewerings of narcissistic losers (including a strangely familiar emotionally damaged president); and more. By turns zany and subtle, intellectual and goofy, stoned and straight laced — and usually with a political subtext — these shorts are sure to leave you laughing. Co-presented by The Sprocket Society.

Part of our 16mm Centennial Celebration Series!

Tuesday, Apr 4: 7:30 pm

4/20 Dank Double Feature: Up In Smoke + Assassin of Youth

Lou Adler & Tommy Chong / Elmer Clifton · USA
176min · DCP + 16mm
Playing Apr 20

Check it out you stoners, heads, and vipers! Celebrate the 10th anniversary of legalized recreational weed in Washington state with a dank double bong hit of skunky cinema! No need to bogart, man – get both nugs for one low price!

First, mellow out with a lid of Acapulco comedy gold: Cheech and Chong’s UP IN SMOKE (1978), the first all-out stoner comedy. Burned out buddies Pedro and Man smuggle a van made entirely of marijuana from Mexico to LA, with incompetent Sgt. Stedenko (Stacy Keach) on their trail. Features the hit song “Earache My Eye”! 45th anniversary!

Then enjoy a stick of mighty mezz: a rare 16mm print of MARIHUANA: ASSASSIN OF YOUTH (1937), the infamous scare film inspired by the “gore files” of racist anti-pot narc, Harry J. Anslinger. An innocent high school girl gets mixed up with the wrong crowd, where smoking tea leads to wild all-night parties, skinny dipping, crime…and sex!! Plus stoned shorts and cartoons, also on 16mm film! Co-presented by The Sprocket Society.

Part of our 16mm Centennial Celebration Series!

Thursday, Apr 20: 7:00 pm

Falcon Lake

Charlotte Le Bon · 2022 · Canada, France
100min · DCP
Playing Jun 2 through Jun 8

Starts Friday, June 2nd. Tickets on sale late April/early May.

A shy teenager on a summer vacation experiences the joy and pain of young adulthood when he forges an unlikely bond with an older girl.

Shot on 16mm!

“Charlotte Le Bon’s exceptionally assured first directorial film is full of light mischief yet heavy with horror-movie mood.” Jessica Kiang, Variety


Past Screenings

These previous programs have been part of our year-long 16mm Centennial series. (Not all screening dates may be listed here.) Don’t miss out on what’s coming soon!

Through the Porthole: A Cinematic Cavalcade for Dennis Nyback

1895-1988 · Various Countries
150min · 16mm
Playing Jan 10

A film tribute with shorts of all sorts, humbly presented in honor of the late great collector, programmer and inspiration, Dennis Nyback. Drawing from their own secret archives, The Sprocket Society will assemble a two-part evening of films, all on 16mm, celebrating the spirit of Dennis’ legendarily far-flung programming. This memorial double header will include animation, surrealism, jazz, comedy, strange curios, rarities, some of Dennis’ favorites — and subversive and naughty stuff, too, of course. Almost anything goes! We hope Dennis would like it, and we hope you do, too. All proceeds from this screening will be donated to the American Cancer Society in Dennis’ name.

Part of A Week at The Movie House, a tribute to the late film archivist and historian Dennis Nyback.

Tuesday, Jan 10: 7:30 pm

Killer of Sheep

Charles Burnett · 1978 · USA
80min · DCP
Playing Feb 20

One of the first 50 culturally significant films to be preserved in the Library of Congress by the National Film Registry, Charles Burnett’s legendary feature debut—a keystone movie of the L.A. Rebellion film movement—is a lyrical urban/bucolic portrait of everyday Black working-class life in Los Angeles’s Watts neighborhood. Shot on a shoestring budget with a largely non-professional cast, the story revolves around the experiences of Stan (Henry G. Sanders), a father trying to support his family and enjoy the simple pleasures they afford him while coping with the psychic stress of laboring in a slaughterhouse.

“The crowning achievement of the decade… [that shows] an alluring command of medium and would be imitated into the next century.” Elvis Mitchell, film critic and director of Is That Black Enough For You?!?

“An American masterpiece, independent to the bone.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Monday, Feb 20: 7:30 pm

A diagram illustrating the size specifications for the 16mm and Super 16 film formats.