There ought to be more film screenings in ballrooms

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The True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, has made a screening venue of the ballroom of the historic Tiger Hotel.
  • Me5000/Wikimedia Commons
  • The True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri, has made a screening venue of the ballroom of the historic Tiger Hotel.
Due to technical difficulties, the screening of Kidlat Tahimik's I Am Furious Yellow (which I wrote about last Wednesday) did not happen this weekend at the Prak-Sis New Media Art Festival. I was disappointed by the cancelation, though I was pleased to learn this morning that Blake Heo, one of the festival organizers, hopes to schedule a makeup screening. More on that, I hope, in the coming days.

I had been looking forward to the screening not only because Yellow is hard to see in the U.S., but because it was supposed to take place in the ballroom of the Drake Hotel. What a memorable experience it would have been to sit inside a historic luxury hotel on the Mag Mile and watch a three-hour cri de coeur about social injustice in the Philippines. Oh well—I've watched movies in beautiful old ballrooms before. Several years ago the Romanian Cultural Exchange presented a series of films at the Stan Mansion in Logan Square, and I got to see Cristi Puiu's debut film Stuff and Dough in the expansive main room of the first floor. That movie is also difficult to come by in the U.S., and the venue made the screening feel even more like a special event.

I experienced something similar this past spring when I attended the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. The festival selected the Tiger Hotel (built in 1928) as one of its venues, converting the recently renovated ballroom into a charming cinematheque. The sound and projection weren't optimal, but the atmosphere more than made up for that. I felt as though I was taking part in a meaningful cultural exchange, as the people of Columbia welcomed the visiting films by inviting them into one of the city's most impressive architectural achievements. Compared with the Chicago International Film Festival, which for the past few years has barely ventured outside of the River East 21, I found True/False more ingratiating and more conducive to a sense of curiosity.

Ben Sachs writes about moviegoing every Monday.

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