Friends, there’s a lot happening in Fort Wayne, and it’s exciting. Sometimes it’s hard to know which new, shiny thing to focus on. And when you’ve got new farmers markets to visit, new restaurants to try, and new trails to ride, it’s easy to forget about the things that have been around awhile.
Let me explain.
Before settling in Fort Wayne, Brown and I were keepin’ it weird in Austin, Texas. And after my four years in ATX I was ready to get out. Aside from friends and breakfast tacos, the only thing I really miss about living in Austin is the Alamo Drafthouse. Once you’ve experienced a movie at Alamo, you’ll never want to set foot in a mainstream movie theater again.
I say ‘experienced” rather than “watched” for good reason—the success of the Alamo comes from paying attention to the entire phenomenological experience of going to a theater to watch a movie. They’ve figured out how to serve amazing food and drinks without distracting from the film. They tailor the pre-show videos and entertainment to the film or the event you are about to watch. Sometimes it’s bubbles, sometimes a guy in a jet pack, but at an Alamo event there’s almost always something you didn’t expect. It’s not just what happens on the screen, it’s what happens leading up to, during, and after the film that matters most.
But the Alamo isn’t the only theater where I’ve had unforgettable film experiences.
In college, I stood in line with a dozen “Dudes” in bathrobes waiting to see The Big Lebowski at the Act II in Berkeley, CA. I ate pizza on a sofa while watching Melinda and Melinda at the Parkway in Oakland. Brown and I shared gourmet cake balls while we watched Circo from one of 50 insanely comfortable seats at Austin’s Violet Crown. And unlike any film I’ve seen in some generic multiplex, my memories of these films will always be tied to the theater I experienced them in.
And then, of course, there’s Cinema Center.
If you haven’t been lately, you’ve been missing out. They’ve hosted awesome movie events like Braineaters’ Ball, a Hitchcock-themed Oscar Party, a Spinal Tap Party, a poetry reading for On the Road, a hot dog night with Bravas, and the Midnight Movie series, just to name a few. Want to watch a movie outside and eat a burger? They’ve gotthat, too. And, with Jonah at the helm, I get the sense that this is just the beginning of bigger and better things to come. Or at least it could be.
But Cinema Center needs your support.
Support can take many forms. The most obvious and most immediately helpful way to support Cinema Center is in the form of a donation to the Digital Projector Fund. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Subscribe to the mailing list. Join the Facebook group. Go to the next event that piques your interest. Donate a Facebook status or Tweet by linking to the Digital Project Fund. Or better yet, become a member.
To invest in Cinema Center is to invest in Fort Wayne’s most valuable resource—community.
It’s no secret that most of today’s movie watchers are dissatisfied with the theater experience and prefer watching elsewhere. But make no mistake—we’re all still watching movies and not just the blockbusters. As the late Roger Ebert pointed out, “The myth that small-town moviegoers don’t like ‘art films’ is undercut by Netflix’s viewing results.” But today’s audiences want more than just the film; they want a positive communal experience.
This communal aspect is, I think, Cinema Center’s greatest asset. It is also its greatest source of potential. We are only seeing the beginning of what Cinema Center has to offer, and it would be a shame not to have a place that brings people together in the experience of film the way the Alamo has done for Austin.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Cinema Center become a carbon copy of the Alamo. They are different theaters. They serve different communities. They have different missions. But, with our support, Cinema Center can fulfill its goal of becoming, “a wildly popular destination in Fort Wayne’s revitalized arts campus downtown — attracting diverse new audiences, partners and sponsors; showcasing the true artistry of film; and offering people the best moviegoing experience in the region.”
It won’t be the Alamo.
It will be better…
because it’s ours.