Preserving Palaces Film Festival Sept. 14-15
CHICAGO, IL — Just a reminder that the historic Portage Theater in Chicago will be hosting “Preserving Palaces: The Struggle to Reclaim America’s Cinema Heritage” this Friday and Saturday, September 14 and 15, featuring five great documentary films on theater preservation and a discussion panel.
Friday night, beginning at 7:30 P.M., we will be showing Uptown: Portrait of a Palace, followed by Preserve Me a Seat, chronicling efforts to save the Indian Hills in Omaha, DuPage in Lombard, IL, Gayety/Publix in Boston, and Villa in Salt Lake City. We will also show Marquee Lights, a short film produced by the Friends of the DuPage in 2003.
On Saturday beginnging at 7:00 P.M., see The Wizard of Austin Boulevard about Chicago’s Patio Theatre, Loew’s Paradise Theatre, and the rare 1980 film Memoirs of a Movie Palace, covering the final days of Brooklyn’s Loew’s Kings.
The films on Saturday night will be followed by a theater preservation discussion panel featuring Lisa DiChiera of the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois, Robert Boin of Friends of the Uptown, Kevin Fitzpatrick of Friends of the DuPage, and Alexander Kouvalis of the Patio Theatre. For more information, visit www.portagetheater.org.
What drove the success of movie palaces in the past is that they had been the temples of the common man so to speak. There had been the great American ideal to lift the common man up to society’s highest level, spurred on by FDR’s New Deal administration and so on. But all that shifted in reverse when lifting up the common man gave way to trickle down. Suddenly the great palaces of hope became dismal hulks of despair, and most calculatingly so — someone’s twisted concept of what in fact was “better.”
Large movie palaces require large audiences to be successful. But when all wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small and relatively worthless few, what is to drive the great movie palaces in the face of that? What do the small select few who’ve lost sight of so much and who wish to keep things that way care if the great movie palaces are sagging or not? Empowerment has to be given over to those who do care if they’re ever to rise up once more. But short of that, what we’re seeing now is what is to be expected.