Why We Celebrate Art House Theater Day…
By Ryan Hill, ArtsQuest Programming Director
Art House Theater Day – which is being celebrated nation-wide this Sunday – is not unlike Record Store Day. Both days are there to remind you that there are people who care about and enjoy certain forms of art as much as you do, and that both of those forms can and should be savored, appreciated and discussed and/or argued about with other fanatics. Just as you could count on the staff at your favorite record store to recommend a band that you don’t know you love yet, those of us who program art house cinemas hope that we’re introducing you to filmmakers, actors and genres you’ll soon obsess over.
The Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas will be taking part in AHTD for the second straight year by screening a couple one-day only films, playing some acclaimed short films and giving everyone who comes through the door special FBAC buttons!
The one-day only screenings include advance showings of LUCKY, a film that, with the recent passing of its lead actor Harry Dean Stanton, is now a tribute to his long career. It follows the spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the quirky characters (one of whom is played by David Lynch) that inhabit his off the map desert town. Lucky is an incredibly beautiful movie that has grabbed the spirit of indie cinema, refusing to let go.
We’ll be kicking off the day with REVOLTING RHYMES, based on the much-loved children’s book by Roald Dahl, which takes the classic fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs, Jack & the Beanstalk and Cinderella, then mixes them together and serves them with a mischievous twist. It’s not often you can introduce your children to your favorite indie theater, but Revolting Rhymes gives you that chance.
Finally, every feature screening on Sunday (with the exception of Revolting Rhymes) will kick off with a selection from OP-DOCS, the New York Times’ Emmy-winning documentary film series. Highlighting both emerging and established filmmakers and artists, the short documentaries of OP-DOCS explore the most important issues facing our world.
Finally, I want to specifically note that Art House Theater Day was created by members of the Art House Convergence, a group of art house cinema operators that started getting together in 2008, when 25 people got together in Midway, UT, before the Sundance Film Festival, and has since exploded to having 600 exhibitors, film festivals and allied organizations attend the 2017 edition. I’ve been going since 2012, and it is hard to imagine what the FBAC programming slate would look like without the immeasurable lessons I’ve learned at each one. I’ve gone from wide-eyed attendee to panelist to host of trailer competitions while receiving nothing but support along the way, including a solid partnership with the programmers at Renew Theaters (they run the County, Ambler, Hiway, and Princeton Garden Theaters), the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and the recently-renovated Colonial Theater in Phoenixville. If you’re down their way, please take some time to see a movie at any of their beautiful theaters. If you’re on vacation, find the local art house (trust me, there is one) and take in a matinee. These are all people, like us here at ArtsQuest and the FBAC, who want to preserve cinema and the cinema-going experience in its purest form. That is what the Art House Convergence and Art House Theater Day are all about.