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The State of Repertory Film in North Texas


by Stephen Becker 25 Nov 2008

Guest blogger Julie Hwang is Community Relations Director for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which serves as our guest film blogger for November. As a self-described film geek, I’ve seen A LOT of movies, but there have always been very notable lapses in my film going experience. I’ve only managed to see one film, […]

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Guest blogger Julie Hwang is Community Relations Director for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, which serves as our guest film blogger for November.

As a self-described film geek, I’ve seen A LOT of movies, but there have always been very notable lapses in my film going experience. I’ve only managed to see one film, Tokyo Story, from revered Japanese director Yashujiro Ozu, for instance.
If I was living now in Los Angeles, I would have the chance to address that deficiency by attending the month long Ozu retrospective at the Cinefamily repertory theater. No doubt, I would have met a few new Asian film aficionado friends in the process.
Looking at the schedules of other repertory movie theaters in the U.S. elicit pangs of envy. The Brattle Theatre, one of the oldest repertory theaters in the country, will treat residents of Cambridge and Boston next month to a new print of French New Wave classic Shoot the Piano Player (which I also haven’t yet seen) as well a program called Roots of the Whip: Indiana Jones and His Influences. The latter series will allow thirtysomethings like me to relive the childhood glory of the first three Indy films and to discover the classic swashbucklers and adventure serials that inspired them. And yes, those who weren’t completely disappointed by Kingdom of the Crystal Skull can see it again as well.
The lack of a dedicated repertory theater or even solid repertory programs in Dallas is a subject that has often come up in discussion amongst my film going friends. As someone whose love of film developed through weekly repertory screenings organized by my college film society, I can attest to the value and joys of being able to discover foreign and older films on the big screen with an audience. There’s a vibe and a chance for memorable experiences that can’t quite be matched by watching the films at home on DVD, like watching Shaft for the first time in a theater full of cheering frat guys.
I’ve been told that Dallas had a few repertory theaters back in the day, but like many others around the country, they closed due to dwindling audiences and competition from VHS and DVD. The last notable attempt at repertory in Dallas was when the Magnolia Theatre first opened and offered an extensive repertory program in addition to first run films. The Magnolia repertory was given up after only a few months due to lack of attendance.
Fortunately, repertory is not completely absent in North Texas. I was pleasantly surprised to discover several film programs, many of them free. I’ve listed the ones I’ve found below. I’ve also included the Midnight Movies at the Inwood series, which has been one of the longest running and most reliable programs in the area. It’s pretty tough, though, to really enjoy something like the three-hour director’s cut of Brazil when you start falling asleep at 2 a.m.
Please share any other programs that I’ve missed, as I’m sure there are a few.
The programs below help fill in the repertory void in the area, but I’m still holding out hope for something more in the vein of the programs of other cities. Perhaps Dallas is ready to try again?
What are your opinions about repertory, and do you think it can succeed here now?
Repertory film screenings in DFW:

Hot Holiday Happenings Free outdoor screenings on Monday and Friday of classic films at Mockingbird Station.

Auteur Film Series – Free film and discussion program through Colin County Community College.

TCM at the Magnolia Theater – Big screen digital presentations of selected films airing on Turner Classic Movies.

Dallas Cinemania Film Society cult/genre screenings on the big screen, aiming to bring the grindhouse experience back to Dallas.

Midnight Movies at the Inwood – great for people who can still stay awake.

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  • Stephen Becker

    This is a bell that I’ve been ringing for a while now, and Julie, I’m glad that you have rounded up what we *do* have in this town as far as rep films go. Some other offerings you might check out:
    The South Dallas Cultural Center (http://www.artandseek.org/organization.php?id=856) frequently runs African-American themed documentaries and narrative films.
    Also, local colleges and universities are a good place to check into. I’ve been e-mailing this week with University of Dallas professor Scott Churchill, who is teaching a class this spring called “Cinematic Explorations of Character and Inner Worlds.” While we all can’t take this class, of course, Scott says that many of the screenings will be open to the public and take place at night (schedule hasn’t been set just yet).
    Anyway, my point is: Julie is dead on — there’s not enough easily accessible rep film in this town. But there is some here and there if you know where to look.