Bama Theatre Fall 2016 Film SeriesBy Aaron Bonner | 08/18/2016 11:46am
The Bama Theater is a unique multipurpose venue in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa. CW File
Since 1937, the Bama Theatre has been one of Tuscaloosa’s prime spots for entertainment through both classic film and various other acts. Over the years, the theatre has evolved, bringing with it a weekly film series that showcases independent and foreign films to the people of Tuscaloosa.
The theatre has recently started its 2016 "Bama Art House" fall film series, a slate of eight award-winning indie films that run each Tuesday night as a one-night-only event.
Kevin Ledgewood, the current director of public relations, began working for the Bama Theatre in 1999, when the theatre was finishing its "Stars of the Silver Screen" fundraiser to buy a 35 millimeter silver platter projector. The theatre started off with classic movies such as "Casablanca" and "The Wizard of Oz" to draw in a wide audience.
“Those really well-known vintage movies were really popular in the beginning, and then we started to slip in an independent film or a foreign film or two, and those really caught on and became more popular,” Ledgewood said.
In 2010, the theatre went from a week-long screening schedule to just Tuesday nights in a series known as "Bama Art House." The film series showcases films from various independent studios that have gone on to win awards at festivals such as Sundance.
“It’s an ongoing process because we are always looking at reviews, trailers and festivals, especially,“ David Allgood, the manager of the Bama Theatre, said. “We’ll keep up with what played at Sundance and what played at Cannes and Tribeca, and we’ll make up a fairly long list of films we would like to have for a series and a small window of when we can get these films.”
These films, Ledgewood and Allgood said, are ones that wouldn’t typically be shown in a normal theatre due to their content or mainstream appeal. In the past, the Bama Art House has shown films such as Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and foreign films such as François Ozon’s “The New Girlfriend.”
“We’re all for experimental films, but we can’t get so esoteric that you run your audience out,“ Allgood said. “We’re not here to educate them, but we want to be with them, presenting them something different and having them take away something."
Allgood said that while the movies are part of a series, they don’t follow any central theme. Throughout the "Bama Art House" film series, the theatre has shown movies focusing on coming-of-age teenagers, foreign policy in Iran and documentaries of popular bands, among a variety of topics.
“What’s interesting about those foreign films is that you can see parallels in American life in there also,“ Ledgewood said. “That’s what kind of unites all of this. It may be a foreign film or a coming-of-age story, but yet we have the very same stories here but with different names and in a different area.”
Though the first movie in the current series, “Love & Friendship,” has already played at the Bama Theatre, seven films are still set to appear throughout the rest of the semester. Next Tuesday’s film, “Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words” is a documentary focusing on the life of musician Frank Zappa.
As well as hosting the various films, the Bama Theatre also contains a full bar, offering both alcoholic and standard concessions to patrons.
“It’s a different experience than going to a multiplex,” Allgood said. “We have people that show up when the doors open, and they meet their friends at the bar, and when the movie’s over there will be groups of people talking about it.”
Students can learn more about the "Bama Art House" film series as well as view trailers of the upcoming films on the Bama Theatre’s website, bamatheatre.org. Tickets can be bought at the door for $8, but a discount punchcard ticket can also be purchased for $60 to see 10 movies at the theatre. The box office opens at 6:30 on Tuesday nights.
“It’s really a social event,” Ledgewood said. “The people that attend on a regular basis are very devoted to the series. It’s just a good opportunity for like-minded people to see each other and exchange ideas and things like that.”