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Celluloid Zeroes 

Cleveland's movie geeks find a film all their own.

AARON  SECHRIST
  • Aaron Sechrist

The five film freaks at the center of Cinemania are compulsive. They take in dozens of movies each week. They alter their diets to accommodate their no-time-for-bathrooms lifestyle. Without a doubt, they would be among the audience members watching the 2002 documentary about New York City movie fans (which plays Saturday as part of the Cinematheque's 17th anniversary celebration).

Cleveland's own cinemaniacs -- four of whom will be at a panel discussion following the screening -- aren't nearly as self-destructive, says Cinematheque director John Ewing, a man who knows there'd be no movie house without obsessive viewers to fill it. "The filmgoer is the forgotten person in the whole equation," he says. "Without them, we wouldn't be around. But my people aren't that nutty."

They have their quirks, though. "I'm not sure why anyone would leave a movie to go to the bathroom," declares Bonita Tiffany, who's been attending Cinematheque films from the start. "Go before the movie."

Linda Schneider drives to the Cinematheque from Canton at least three times a week. "I've driven in snowstorms," she matter-of-factly states. "And I've put a lot of miles on my car."

Unlike the stars of Cinemania, neither has ever strangled a movie-house employee, and neither is on the verge of eviction because of her obsession. But "Nobody can deal with me," Tiffany admits. "I can't remember the last time I went to a movie with someone."

And like Cinemania's fivesome, Tiffany and Schneider aren't picky about what they watch. "I see whatever's good," says Tiffany. "I can't sit outside and watch how people run their lives. This is [my] way of watching people."

"I can go to a movie if I have a problem or if I'm depressed about something," Schneider says. "It's an escape. I can get away for a couple hours. When I come out, I say, Wow! I can face that now."

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