Art House Theaters Unite!

In order for a Truly Free Film Culture to take hold, independent theaters have to organize and work together.  Well, guess what?  Good news!  It's already happening.  

Imagine if a whole bunch of great theaters got together and decided they would accept bookings from independent and TFFilmakers.  Sounds logical, right?  But ask a DIY filmmaker turned distributor if they were able to get bookings beyond NYC's Film Forum, The Laemmle Sunset, and The Walker & Wexner centers, and I will know that the filmmaker hustled and hustled some more for each and every one of those bookings -- virtually to the point of collapse.  The sad truth is that currently to get bookings for legitimate theaters, most filmmakers have to hire an established booker to ink the deal -- and man, that ain't cheap.
But now it looks like that stranglehold may finally be broken.  And guess who's shattering these chains?  Sundance!  Freedom is looming.  Three cheers for Sundance!  Truly:  hip, hip and hooray!  A convergence of art house theatres from across the nation is to be held January 13-15, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  And from the sounds of it, Indie/TFF/Arthouse exhibition is going to take a great leap forward.
The Sundance Institute Art House Project is a partnership with art house cinemas nationwide to build audiences and develop a supportive community of theatre owners committed to independent film. Wow. Not that we can relax just yet, but this project is a great thing for both filmmakers and filmlovers alike.
The Art House Convergence is presented in cooperation with the Sundance Institute. At the Convergence, Art House theatres from all over the U.S. will gather just before the Sundance Film Festival (January 15-25) providing a rare opportunity for art house theatres to network and discuss successful marketing, programming and business models as well as current issues facing independent theatres.

John Cooper, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival, explains "Our organizing principle is to increase the market for film exhibition by expanding the number and effectiveness of community-based, mission-driven theatres in local communities, large and small, nationwide.”

So who are these theaters?  Mark them down, and then add to the list!

BAM, New York, NY, www.bam.org
Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN, www.belcourt.org
Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City, UT, www.saltlakefilmsociety.org
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA, www.coolidge.org
Enzian Theater, Orlando, FL, www.enzian.org
Hollywood Theatre, Portland, OR, www.hollywoodtheatre.org
International Film Series, Boulder, CO, www.internationalfilmseries.com
Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY, www.burnsfilmscenter.org
The Loft, Tucson, AZ, www.loftcinema.com
Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI, www.michtheater.org
The Music Box, Chicago, IL, www.musicboxtheatre.com
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK, www.okcmoa.org
The Palm, San Luis Obispo, CA, www.thepalmtheatre.com
Pickford Cinema, Bellingham, WA, www.pickfordcinema.org
Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, CA, www.cafilm.org
Ragtag Cinema, Columbia, MO, www.ragtagfilm.com
Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, ME, www.railroadsquarecinema.com
The Screen, Santa Fe, NM, www.thescreen.csf.edu

The conference will include a keynote address by John Cooper, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, as well as panel sessions on:
- How to use the not-for-profit business model to grow audiences for Art House films
- An exploration of new film distribution paradigms (participating in these panels will be Bob Berney, formerly of Picturehouse and Peter Broderick, Paradigm Consulting, Ted Hope, This Is That Productions -- that's me!)
- Innovative marketing and showmanship techniques
- Tutorials on emerging film exhibition and Art House theatre operations technology