Micro/Pop Up Cinema Revolution! And A Moment of Silence for Peter Falk

I remember this one time when I was living in Brooklyn I was at a bar with some friends. There was a closed back room and even a guard loosely standing watch. For whatever reason I waded through the beer light, went through the door and found a film projection reel violently clicking in the middle of a room, a small band huddled near the screen (with an amazing brass section), a room full of people on folding chairs or standing in masses to the sides, all transfixed by the images on screen...it was a pop up microcinema! For a hush hush film organization in New York! And it was pretty exhilarating! I also think it reminded me how much I love film (not long after this experience I escaped the clutches of cubicle-dom to move to the woods to embark on Gravity!) and how most of my fondest memories involve me, my friends and a projector stationed below a water tower on top of our apartment or cramped in a creepy college house transfixed by The Red Balloon late into the night.

I don't know the history of pop up or microcinemas but I have noticed a lot more of them springing up lately. Maybe it's because the value of the multiplex is finally waning. Maybe it's because people want more of an experience in their cinema going. Maybe no one wants to sit through 40 minutes of advertisements (!) before the previews even start. Maybe the technology & cost of film projection has become more accessible, mellowed out (or been thrown out, I called our local library to see if I could borrow a projector only to be told "We just threw them all away last week." ?!?). I'm not really sure what the impetus is but it seems  there is a micro/pop up cinema revolution going on out there and I couldn't be happier!

My understanding of microcinemas are that they are small, independently run theaters with very little seating that have progressive programming, catering to the true cinephile! Pop up cinemas are surging too, film screenings outside of a traditional theater, setting up and breaking down in all kinds of places (empty pools, abandoned churches, subway tunnels). We were recently asked about doing a screening in a new little theater in Perth Australia called 1Up, (which I hope works out since we are going there already) and locally we have Moviate in Harrisburg which has a pretty impressive line up screened in the back of a local bar or gallery filled with couches and folding chairs. The wonderful and mysterious James Bond runs his own spectacular (and tiny) theater which is part of a small circle of microcinemas in Chicago. In New York I recently went to Vaudeville Park for a screening of cable access tv highlights and the intense programming of Light Industry also offers a true avant-garde, roaming film experience  (though they recently secured a space in Brooklyn with a few other perfect non profits!).  And the pop up cinema variety is thriving as well with such large scale productions as my beloved Rooftop Films out of NY and Cinespia in L.A. whose screenings mostly take place in a graveyard! There are many more too: Other Cinema out of San Fran (a town with a serious history of this kind of thing!), Aurora Picture Show out of Houston TX....All of these organizations are totally serving an audience who want more out of movies than what multiplexes have to offer and I hope this trend keeps up...who knows, maybe I will have to have a barn screening or two...?

A little while back when we were in Arizona rebuilding our film set town we met this couple at a party who asserted that they "single handedly invented microcinema." I thought it was a funny thing to orate about but when I really think about how important these moments of gathering and screening are to me, I think I understand why they are so, so proud to be a part of micro/pop upcinema history....as am I!

(Also, a moment of silence for Peter Falk please whose work in such legendary films as Husbands, Mikey & Nicky and Wings of Desire made my film obsession what it is!)



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.