York theater screens '1984' to support arts endowment

Christopher Dornblaser

In George Orwell's book "1984," the protagonist, Winston Smith, began rebelling against his government on April 4 by writing a diary, which is forbidden in his society.

On Tuesday, April 4, arts theaters around the country were asked by the United State of Cinema to show the film version of the book to show support for the National Endowment for the Arts, which President Donald Trump has proposed to eliminate in his budget.

In York City, the Small Star Art House at 232 W. Market St. filled the entire 20-plus seat theater with locals to watch the film.

Patti Stirk, who runs the movie side of the art house, said the theaters are banding together to show that there is a desire to retain funding for the endowment. At the theater, patrons agreed that funding should be retained.

More than 20 locals showed up to the Small Star Art House Tuesday to watch "1984." Photo by Christopher Dornblaser

Arts: Joe Sites, of Manchester Township, said that arts help people see from other perspectives, which is something the government tries to stifle in "1984."

"(Arts) make life worth living," he said.

His wife, Emerald Sites, agreed, saying that art allows growth, and when people aren't exposed to it, they're "complacent."

West York resident Linda Bergdoll agreed that the endowment should stay.

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"I just think it's so important, and it can't be cut," she said. Bergdoll said arts allow people to think for themselves.

"We need to be the movers and shakers," she said.

Additionally, Joe Sites said that the cutting the endowment won't really have an impact.

"It's such an insignificant amount," he said. "That's not going to balance the budget."

The National Endowment for the Arts received $148 million in 2016 and distributed $112 million to local, state and regional arts agencies and organizations around the country.

More than 20 locals showed up to the Small Star Art House Tuesday to watch "1984." Photo by Christopher Dornblaser

Parallels: In "1984," Smith, played by actor John Hurt, rebels against his oppressive government by keeping a diary.

"Orwell's portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier," part of the description in the Facebook event for the screening reads.

The Siteses both agreed that some aspects of the film have slight parallels to things going on in the country nowadays.

Emerald Sites also compared that to the government potentially using a backdoor to access people's phones.

"That's absolutely spying on every single person," she said. "Just like the TVs in the movie do."

Joe Sites also referenced "alternative facts," as being similar to how the government in "1984" try to stop the flow of accurate information.

For more information on the art house, check www.smallstaryork.com.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.