Library documentary opens monthly screening series

“Ex Libris: The New York Public Library” will screen at the North Star Theatre on Friday, Jan. 10. Photo courtesy of Zipporah Films
“Ex Libris: The New York Public Library” will screen at the North Star Theatre on Friday, Jan. 10. Photo courtesy of Zipporah Films

When it comes to movie fundraisers, most organizations choose crowd-pleasers: “The Avengers,” “Spider-Man” and so forth.

But Friends of the Library has taken a different approach, selecting the documentary “Ex Libris: The New York Public Library,” for a 7 p.m. showing on Friday, Jan. 10 at the North Star Theatre.

Making bank even on family-friendly hits like “Coco” has become a challenge as donations by moviegoers have dwindled, said Cultural Program Leader Paula Payne. The average donation of a moviegoer attending the North Star Theatre has crept downward from around $7 to a low of $1.20. However, organizations prefer to accept donations rather than charging admission because it allows them to license movies under less difficult terms.

Nonetheless, an ongoing series of documentary screenings reflects a willingness to select films that will enrich the minds of viewers, if not the pockets of organizers. A previous screening of the animated Vincent van Gogh biopic “Loving Vincent” drew an encouraging response, Payne said.

“With the documentaries, the goal is to break even,” Payne said. “It’s not a huge moneymaker, but it provides a great community service … They don’t get huge numbers of people like ‘Spider-Man,’ but the people who do come to see it are very appreciative.”

“Ex Libris” is an appropriate choice for Cordova’s Friends of the Library because it shows the way libraries must wear many different faces to serve the community, Payne said.

“Ex Libris” will be followed up in February by “The Great Alone,” a documentary about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and in March by “RBG,” on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.