Youthful Eye on Classic Films

The series at Guild Hall begins next Thursday at 7 p.m. with a screening of “The Godfather,”
Will Stoecker, an East Hampton High School junior, founded the East Hampton Film Society, a film series that he will host at Guild Hall. Morgan McGivern

On Saturday, Will Stoecker, an East Hampton High School junior who plays center on the varsity basketball team, was fresh off a loss the night before in the county Class A semifinals but already looking forward to one of his next endeavors — a film series that the East Hampton Film Society, which he founded, is hosting at Guild Hall this month and next.

The series begins next Thursday at 7 p.m. with a screening of “The Godfather,” Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 drama about the Corleones, a fictional New York crime family. It stars Marlon Brando in an Oscar-winning performance, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, and Robert Duvall. It ranks second on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American films of all time, surpassed only by Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane.”

Young film buffs like Will prove that its influence and appeal continue to endure. “Who wouldn’t want to watch ‘The Godfather’?” Will said when asked if his film-loving peers would turn out for a movie of this vintage. “There’s a huge community at the high school that’s really into film,” he said. In video production classes with Jeremy Quitko “we watch all these classic films and talk about their influence.” There’s a school video club, and now the film society, a non-school group that aims to bring classic and independent art films to younger audiences.

“We’re trying to alternate between these classic films and lesser-known older films,” he said, “older” being a relative term.

Also in the series will be Wes Anderson’s 1996 “Bottle Rocket,” the indie director’s first feature-length film, on March 19. As a first feature that grew out of a short-film project a few years earlier, “Bottle Rocket” might be instructive for aspiring high school filmmakers like Will and his friends. Mr. Anderson co-wrote it with Owen Wilson, who would also co-write his next feature, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and go on to appear in all but one of Mr. Anderson’s films, including last year’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which won a number of Oscars on Sunday.

On April 2, the society will screen Roman Polanski’s “Chinatown,” starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, and John Huston, from 1974. The lesser-known “Brick,” a 2005 Sundance Film Festival winner by Rian Johnson, is on the schedule for April 23. This is the first time in recent years that any of these have been shown on the big screen at Guild Hall, making the screenings a real treat for film fans of all ages.

“These are films that I’ve grown up watching and loved,” said Will, who is also a fan of the noir-ish “Pulp Fiction” and this year’s best picture Oscar winner, “Birdman.”

Will volunteered in October for the Hamptons International Film Festival, helping out at Guild Hall and then slipping into the John Drew Theater balcony to catch parts of the films. He got so immersed in the experience that what was supposed to be a few hours of his time stretched into a sort of four-day film intensive. (He wants to study film and computer science and has his sights set right now on New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.)

Spending so much time at Guild Hall, “I wondered why it wasn’t used as often” by high school students, he said. “High school kids don’t even know about it.”

Not long after, he got in touch with Josh Gladstone, the theater’s artistic director, with his idea for a film series that would bring teenagers to the theater, in many cases for the first time.

“I was impressed with his idea and with his passion,” Mr. Gladstone said Monday. “This is a kid who is a real go-getter.” He invited Will to pitch the series in person, and Guild Hall agreed to co-host it and handle details of licensing and projection.

Each screening will be followed by a discussion with film society members. Tickets are $8, $6 for members.