Thursday, May 3, 2012

Liberty Hall's Maggie Allen on Film Church and Annie Hall

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2012 at 8:11 AM

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Lawrence's Liberty Hall is an honest-to-goodness movie palace - stage, chandeliers and red-velvet seats. The cats who run the place are known for their knowledge of film, as anyone can attest who's ever been at a loss as to what they should grab from their video store. As of late, the theater has been showing cult and popular favorites on the big screen as part of Liberty Hall Rewind, with the likes of Jurassic Park and The Princess Bride getting another go on the big screen. The next project from the venue is Film Church, which starts this Sunday, May 6, with a screening of Woody Allen's classic Annie Hall. We spoke with Liberty Hall's Maggie Allen about Film Church for our calendar spot on Film Church, and her answers were so great, we just had to share them with you here.

The Pitch: Just curious as to how Film Church came about. Why show a movie like Annie Hall at noon on a Sunday?

We have been kicking around the idea of doing a classic film series for a few years now. We've had some success with the popular and cult films we have shown for Liberty Hall Rewind. It seemed like it was time to try something a bit more culturally relevant. As dedicated cinephiles, the opportunity to see a classic film on the big screen in a cinema setting is something we yearn for.

We film fanatics will take film anyway we can get it; but to see these pictures in this great, old theater as opposed to on a television, it is the difference between the paintings in the museum and the postcards in the gift shop. Offering folks the opportunity to see these works as they were meant to be seen is something we are really excited about ... almost as excited as we are to watch the films ourselves!

We decided to call the program "Film Church" for a couple of reasons. For one, we wanted the emphasis to be on films that are good for you, pieces that have artistic merit and a high cultural nutritional value. They won't always be "nice" films, but they will always be quality. Secondly, well, it's on a Sunday, so, you know, Sunday, church, films ... Film Church. Sunday always feels like a good day to watch a good movie. In fact, I rank Sunday as one of my top seven days to watch a movie on. Then Mick Cottin (our cinema manager) and Aaron Marable cooked up the brilliant idea of having brunch and a bloody mary while we watch the good movie. It's a perfect Sunday, really.

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Why Annie Hall specifically?

So why Annie Hall? It just seems like such an obvious choice. Like any good cult, we at Film Church are hoping to hook our followers as quickly as possible. Annie Hall is the cinematic equivalent of a gateway drug. It seems harmless enough at first: some Woody Allen, a little Coppola, maybe some Kurosawa every now and then. Then you start experimenting with Fellini and Bergman. The next thing you know, you are mainlining Truffaut, and then it's all over. You're hooked. In all honesty, we are really just a filthy collection of film junkies here, trying to drag the world up to our sanctimonious film-loving level. I just injected Aki Kaurismäki into my eyeballs. I shouldn't even know who he is.

But that doesn't really answer the question, does it? Well, let's see Annie Hall/Liberty Hall, Woody Allen/Maggie Allen - it's just good, old-fashioned nepotism, really. Oh, and then there is also the minor fact that Annie Hall is an innovative, groundbreaking film that is representative of a great decade of American filmmaking, a decade which changed the art of filmmaking forever. So, there's that, too.

Is your "sermon" going to be a little on the movie, on the idea of spending a Sunday among friends, or just the appeal of sleeping in and then drinking early in the day?

The "sermon" I will be giving is just a brief introduction, explaining why we chose the particular film and its significance from a film history/film theory perspective. I can't promise much in the way of fire and brimstone, but there will be what I hope is interesting and informative insights on cinema, delivered with enthusiasm and a deep love of film. Don't worry; I'll keep it short and neat. Sort of like Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies, only slightly more acerbic.

Are there future plans in place, or are you just waiting to see how this one goes first?

We hope we will get to hold Film Church at least once a month. We have the next one scheduled for June 24 when we will show The Apartment. And I believe we have secured a 35 mm print of it, too. Film-nerd joy! After that, we plan to bring some international stuff into the mix. Hopefully the people of Lawrence are as into this as we are so we can continue to offer our "services."

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