Lumiere Theater is Closing; Another Indie Theater Bites the Dust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so sad to hear about the Lumiere Theater closing! It’s yet another reminder of the difficulties independent filmmakers and distributers are facing right now. I currently live in Oakland- right behind the defunct Parkway Theater. While there is a New Parkway theater opening this Fall in Oakland’s Uptown District (thanks to the immensely dedicated fanbase of the old Parkway theater) it won’t be at the same location. The old theater sits silently with metal doors, indicating it is closed for good, and graffiti adorns the outside of the building. Learn more here.

I saw so many great independent films at the Lumiere- a wonderful theater located in Nob Hill, San Francisco. One strong memory I have is showing up to see the San Francisco premiere of Larry Clark’s film, WASSUP ROCKERS, in 2007. I was overjoyed to see the film, but completely floored when I found out Larry Clark was going to be giving a Q&A that night.

Larry Clark’s film, KIDS, is among my Top 10 all-time favorite indpendent films. I’m a huge fan of his photography as well. I had seriously been dying to meet him for over a decade! That night, I had an extra copy of Dharma Punx with me (the book written by Noah Levine- which was the inspiration for my documentary, MEDITATE AND DESTROY). I felt that the book would be a great gift for Larry because it has similiar themes that he addresses in his films (youth culture, punk rock, decadent lifestyles, and seeing reality directly- no BS!)

Larry Clark’s previous films, KEN PARK & BULLY, had made many film festival audiences and critics upset due to their graphic nature. He introduced his film and then left the theater to head into the lobby. During his introduction he said how suprised he was that the theaters weren’t filling up to watch his film.

I was so nervous, but I sprinted out into the lobby to greet him and give him the hardcover copy of Dharma Punx. He was incredibly kind and thanked me. I told him I’d help get the word out about his film and offered to be of assistance if he needed it. He thanked me. We had a brief chat about MEDITATE AND DESTROY. I was so humbled to meet him.

Now that the Lumiere is being shut down, I’m reminded of this most auspicious meeting with one of the greatest independent film directors of all time.

While the rising of the New Parkway Theater is immensely inspiring and gives so much hope for independent theaters around the country, I’m sure there will be many more theaters that end up with a wrecking ball nearby.

This week I’m visiting Los Angeles. Yesterday a friend took me to the Mohawk Blend in Echo Park which is a wonderful, swanky restaurant located inside a renovated old movie theater.

 

The interior architecture is, in my opinion, really stunning. But, I sat there wondering what films might have played there, who sat in the movie theater seats where our table was located, what filmmakers might have appeared there to inspire/entertain/educate audiences?

As a filmmaker, being able to meet your favorite director at a local theater is like going to the gas station to fill up on fuel. Life just doesn’t run the same without the right resources to keep going. One of the most essential resources is inspiration through a living example (i.e. a successful theater, meeting a successful director, viewing a hugely impactful independent film).

The closing of the Lumiere makes me think of cities outside of SF who are having an even tougher time keeping their theaters alive. If you have to go many miles away to feel touched deeply by an in-person meeting with someone whose art inspires you or wait many months for a film festival to whiz through your city, then life seems very mundane. Additionally, communities everywhere need more than a chain theater and digital distribution. We have to keep independent theaters in business- for the same reason we keep local grocers, farmer’s markets, and coffee shops. Independent theaters aren’t perfect, but they are more likely to take a risk with a film that matters and bring something out of the norm to a community.

Sure, we have the internet, but spaces that support independent artists are so crucial for connection and community building.

Swanky restaurants are nice. I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch yesterday. But, it’s unfortunate to see so many theaters turned into a parking lot or simply sitting idle! So, we have to continue supporting our local independent spots rather than watching Netflix, renting via Red Box, or simply being lazy and going to a big chain because that’s where the latest blockbuster is.

Go out and support your local independent theater today! If you live in Oakland, I’ll see you at the New Parkway theater opening this Fall!

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MEDITATE AND DESTROY is an award-winning documentary on punk rock, spirituality, and inner rebellion.

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