When the Lights Come Up
Prof. Chase Ogden and Dr. Drew Ayers
The way people watch films has changed over the years. The moviegoing experience has evolved from the boom of the nickelodeon theaters in early 1900s, to the trendy drive-in cinemas of the 50s, the dominance of the multiplexes which started in the 70s, popularity of television and home videos in the 80s, and now to the multi-platform convenience of digital streaming services.
Across those eras, the independent theaters have existed in the communities around United States. However, these locally owned small theaters often find themselves unable to keep up with the multiplexes and the streaming services. With the current Stay-at-Home order due to COVID-19 and the challenges that they already experience pre-pandemic period, the independent theaters’ viability is in danger more than ever.
When the Lights Come Up focuses on two local movie theaters in Spokane: The Magic Lantern and The Garland. The documentary film interviewed critics, educators, organizers, and business administrators from the local film community to share their insights about the history, relevance, challenges, and viability of independent theaters. The film also explores the function of these theaters as alternative spaces for inclusion, diversity, and untold local stories. What are we going to lose as a community if these theaters close?
As the world faces this unprecedented crisis which endangers the communal moviegoing culture, the film serves as a manifesto for the survival of the local movie theaters.
Mortel, Frances Grace D.; McIntosh, Britt; Thomas, Miriam; and Anderson, Harry, "When the Lights Come Up" (2020). 2020 Symposium Creative Works. 3.
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