Hilltop Cinema

Our mission is to provide a screening room to encourage students and independent film makers to share their work with the greater Pawling community. Independent curators and students are encouraged to send proposals to Akin Free Library Director, Matthew Hogan.

The Akin Free Library kicks off the spring events season on March 4th with “The Amateur Naturalist Film Series,” featuring films by Erin Chapman, and Tom McNamara.

The film series is curated by Nicole Antebi, a New York based filmmaker living in Pawling, who works in non-fiction animation, motion graphics, and installation.  Antebi was inspired to launch the film series after first encountering The Gunnison Museum of Natural History located on the lower level of the Akin Free Library.  The collection is a celebration of one curious citizen’s contribution to science.

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About the March 4th program:

Erin Chapman is the Manager of New Media Content at the American Museum of Natural History. She is the creator and producer of Shelf Life, an online series taking viewers behind the scenes into the Museum's scientific collections. In a former life, she was a multimedia reporter, interactive game producer, zine editor, and Emmy-nominated journalist. After 22 years, she's finally admitted to being a New Yorker, but spent the first half of her life on Florida's Gulf Coast.

Tom McNamara is the Senior Multimedia Producer at Popular Science, heading up their video department. He is a science focused director, editor, animator, and cameraman. His work is equal parts science and fiction: The atomic bomb as told by a time traveler's assassination of Einstein. The Space Race as told by the point of view of the first dog in orbit. Hibernation as told by an orchestra of instrument playing animals. 


Nabokov's Butterflies

The highways and roadside motels of pre-interstate America provided the backdrop for literary giant Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel Lolita. But they were also prime collecting grounds for Nabokov’s great passion, lepidopterology—the study of moths and butterflies. This 360 film explores the scientific legacy of Nabokov's first road trip across the U.S.


Into the Island of Bats

The island of Cuba is a key piece of the puzzle for two bat researchers trying to understand biodiversity in the Caribbean. 


Kinsey's Wasps

Sexologist Alfred Kinsey’s first love was the tiny gall wasp. His incredible collection—7.5 million wasps and the plant galls from which they hatch—is now housed at the American Museum of Natural History, and is a case study for why having so many specimens can unlock important avenues of research.


Diary of a Snake Bite Death

In 1957 at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Dr. Karl P. Schmidt, famed snake expert and herpetologist, made a detailed scientific account of the effect of venom from a snakebite in the human body—his body. Schmidt made the record while he was dying. The newspapers called his notes a “death diary.”


How Animals Hibernate or: L’orchestre D’hibernation Animaux

What if hibernating animals of different species formed an orchestra and performed a symphony about their winter’s sleep? Well, they did—sort of.

Because this is the science version of "Peter and the Wolf"... A flute playing wood frog who freezes. A bassoon blowing painted turtle who (ahem) breathes through its butt. A trumpet blasting common poorwill who falls asleep anywhere, anytime. A harp plucking mosquito who goes into a sci-fi suspended animation. A drum thumping black bear who stays fat all winter long. And, of course, a theremin tuning Antarctic cod who goes semi-comatose in the dark.

Ladies and gentlemen, "The Sleep Cycle" by L’orchestre D’hibernation Animaux.


Sputnik-2 or: Laika, Our Hero

In 1957, a Soviet street dog named Laika launched into space aboard Sputnik-2 and became the first animal to orbit the Earth. This is her story.

When the international press reported that the Soviets sent a dog into orbit, the public freaked. Not because communism was beating democracy in the space race, but because how could anyone send a dog—alone—into space. If there's one global commonality, it's this: everyone loves dogs. So, the Soviets spun the story. Laika, the space dog, became a national hero. Yes, she died on her one way mission. But, she gloriously orbited Earth for over a week until her eventual, peaceful death. And, because of Laika's sacrifice, the Soviet space program was now years ahead of the Americans...

But, none of that was true.

Based on declassified Soviet space program documents as well as primary source archive from back in the day, this is a revised version of Laika's one way trip. In her words. That is, approximately her words. She was a dog, after all.




Admission is free; but donations are encouraged.

Location: The Akin Free Library, 378 Old Quaker Hill Road, Pawling.

To learn more about this event or to register, please contact Matthew Hogan at or call (845) 855-5099.


Akin Library Launches Film Series

The Akin Free Library is kicking off a new film program. The library is hosting screenings for independent films, documentaries, student films and animations. Whenever possible the filmmaker will be present to talk about his or her work.

There is no charge to see the films, but a $10.00 donation is suggested.  Donations will help the library acquire a better projector and sound system. A large screen was recently donated saving the program almost $2,000.

The first show, which begins tonight, Friday, November 3, at the Akin Library, looks at landscape through a variety of interpretive lenses. The series is curated by Nicole Antebi, who lives in Holmes. The Amateur Naturalist Film Series takes its named form Olive Gunnison, who, during her lifetime amassed an enormous collection of specimens covering all phases of Natural History.  Her collection is now housed in the lower level the Library.

These films explore the citizen scientist approach to both filmmaking and film subject. A desire to interrogate curiosity to its core is the focus of the films selected for this screening. 

Tonight, at 7:00 p.m. the Akin Library will show three films:


-   Topophilia, directed by Peter Bo Rappmund, 60 minutes. 

-   Here After, directed by Sarah Friedland and Esy Casey, 60 minutes.

-   The Gold Fish Casino, directed by Sarolta Jane Cump, 35 minutes.


Topophilia is an exploration of the built and natural environments along the 800-mile length of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Here After is a feature length documentary that takes a deeper look at three unconventional American cemeteries, told through the wit and wisdom of their caretakers. The film interweaves their stories, creating a rare glimpse into the materialization process that reveals the social and ecological implications of our final mark upon the earth.

The Gold Fish Casino is the queer tale of a plucky Salmon forced by a lack of water to gamble her eggs to get upstream. As a storm brews in the distance, the Water Tycoon shuffles in for a cataclysmic show down. Will the Salmon and her newfound allies rise up? Or will it all go down the drain?

The Akin Free Library is located at 378 Old Quaker Hill Road in Pawling. For more information about films at the Akin Free Library visit  online, call (845) 855-5099, or contact Matthew Hogan, Director, at