Are art house theaters important screening vehicles for film festivals?

Each year, the month of January signals not only the beginning of a new year but it also signifies the commencement of film festival season. Although many times only the most renown festivals get the headlines, such as Cannes, Sundance, Los Angeles, New York, and even Telluride, it is important to point out that across the country, many small cities and towns hold smaller film festivals of their own that bring together indie cinephiles under one common purpose: to step away from mainstream cinema and experience the unconventional and original films that festivals have to offer. However, are the venues that house these film festivals as important as the events themselves?

Let’s look at Florida’s comparatively smaller film festival circuit, which is no exception to the use of independent or art house theaters to host international and community indie film festivals. The Stonzek Theater in Lake Worth is home to the L-Dub Film Festival, which was founded five years ago by the conjoined efforts of the theater and the Lake Worth Playhouse, in the hope of gathering a local display of filmmakers, actors, writers and film students, which would allow them to present their projects to the public.

LAKE WORTH, Florida (2015, 25 September). Concession stand of the Stonzek Theater, home of the L-Dub Film Festival. Photo by: Adriana Delgado.
LAKE WORTH, Florida (2015, 25 September). Concession stand of the Stonzek Theater, home of the L-Dub Film Festival. Photo by: Adriana Delgado.

The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, which takes place between November 6-November 22, shares its screenings in two independent film venues: The Cinema Paradiso located in Hollywood and another venue of the same name in Fort Lauderdale. Both theaters are small in size, described by the organizers of FLIFF as “year-round art houses”, because they continuously screen indie and foreign films that are rarely shown in any other movie theaters in the area.

Conversely, The Palm Beach International Film Festival (PBIFF) had until last year, shared its screenings with the larger chain film venues, such as Muvico in City Place, West Palm Beach and the Cobb Theater, in Palm Beach Gardens. However, the festival organizers coincided that it was time for the festival to have a venue of its own, therefore making the old Plaza Theater in Manalapan, the new Palm Beaches Theater, the festival’s new abode which opened earlier this year under extensive renovations and a new management headed by Jeff Davis, who incidentally, owns PBIFF’s new screening venue, according to an article written by The Palm Beach Post last August.

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (2015, 25 September). Street view of Muvico in City Place, one of the venues of the past Palm Beach International Film Festival. Photo by: Adriana Delgado.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (2015, 25 September). Street view of Muvico in City Place, one of the venues of the past Palm Beach International Film Festival. Photo by: Adriana Delgado.

The decision to move the film festival from large theater chains like Muvico and Cobb to bring it under the roof of an independent movie house is perhaps more in tune to the true spirit of film festivals. After all, the most powerful reason why such festivals exist in the first place, is to vehemently move away from mainstream thinking and conventionality; and what a better way to that than to host them in the unique and distinctive surroundings of an art house theater.

 

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About ADRIANA DELGADO 67 Articles
Art Film File is a site for cinephiles ,who like myself, have a deep respect, love, and admiration for independent and foreign films of every era. Readers who follow Art Film File are for the most part adverse to the "Hollywood Blockbuster" theorem (although there are many good ones out there) showing instead a strong inclination to connect with films that explore topics such as life, identity and philosophy without necessarily following a neat studio-oriented narrative. In the past, much like it is now, many independent and foreign films get done many times with countless challenges. Small budgets, little or no outside funding and absence of willing distributors are some of the problems that many American and foreign independent filmmakers face regularly. Art Film File acts as a conduit in bringing these films, past and present, to the public's attention. Art Film File is also a site that displays detailed reviews about films they haven't seen as well as for films they have seen and wish to share their own views. I plan to include interviews with filmmakers and actors of indie and foreign films in addition to articles depicting topics of interest for readers who already follow Art Film File and for those waiting to discover it. Adriana Delgado Founder and Blog Manager of Art Film File

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