Just this week I got word that I Just Want to Eat My Sandwich
would be screening in the Hartford International Film Festival
this weekend. It was to be screening today at 11 am at the Art Cinema and at 12 noon at the Pope Park Recreational Center. Since I had an appointment later in the afternoon in Cambridge, Jeremy and I decided to go to the 11 am screening.
The building is deceiving. As you can see from the picture above it looks like there must be a small screening room, but instead it is a a well-sized theatre, and it's one of Hartford's oldest -- 86 years old.
On the website it said that the Art Cinema was an "alternative" movie theater. I thought, oh, like the Coolidge Corner Theatre
in Brookline... well, not exactly. The Art Cinema is primarily an X-rated movie theater. The reason why the screening was at 11 am was so that it could be over in time for it's 1 pm porno flick. Of course upon finding out this information, I wondered how many people would show up to this screening. I've never seen a morning screening with much of an audience in general. Never mind a morning screening at this
place. I thought that locals would know about this theater and probably decided against attending, unless, of course they were also porn movie goers. Actually, come to think of it, having a festival there might be a good excuse for some people to go to this festival. They could tell their honeys that they were supporting the arts by going to this screening and then stay for the afternoon delight. Hmm...
OK, well, that might be a good idea in theory but it certainly wasn't put to use as there were only about 10 of us in the audience, counting Jeremy and myself. There was also another filmmaker and probably a couple of friends/family members of his. I did note that attendance grew towards the end. It appeared that some of the 1 pm matinee audience was arriving early. Fine, given that my film was second to last. More eyes on my film are more eyes on my film.
Ten may be a low attendance number but actually not all that
bad considering the time and place! It actually gave me hope that if there were ten of us there that there would be more people attending the screening in Pope Park. That one would be a more family oriented screening in a more family-friendly place. And heck, it wasn't in the AM! Too bad I couldn't find out. The 11 am and 12 noon screenings overlapped and Jeremy and I couldn't stay too long in Hartford, anyway.
Yes, having ten people there today really did give me some hope. Look, I know that festivals have a hard time bringing in audiences. So I do give credit to these guys for bringing in any audience at the Art Cinema. On top of that, they ran it with respect, still announcing the films before the screenings and the attending film makers as well as making concluding remarks and offering up a Q & A.
They guys I met who were running the festival were Kevin O' Toole and Helder Mira, both very approachable and considerate. I hope that if they read this, they know I'm not dissing them for using the porno palace. It's so challenging to run a festival and get venues. You have to be creative and resourceful. And, I think they completely appreciate the humor and irony in using this theater. Never mind they seemed to care about the history of this theater. Part of what they were trying to do with this theater was to get something else going other than adult movies. I got the sense that they screened adult movies there because it was the only way to keep this theater going at all.
All and all it was a fun way to spend the midday. We had a nice ride there and back. And, on the way back, Jeremy and I stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch. I had never been to one before. So it was Jeremy's first time in Hartford and my first Cracker Barrel experience.
Hmm.. porn and crackers. That has a kind of ring to it.