Celebration! Cinema North has teamed up with the East Lansing Film Society to feature a new series highlighting independent films. The first installment of the aptly titled Indie Film Series begins Sept. 6 and will feature a selection of six different award-winning and noteworthy independent films for four weeks. This month's titles include Kon-Tiki, The Sapphires, Augustine, The Stories We Tell, Room 237 and What Maisie Knew.
Jeremy Kress, creative director for Celebration! Cinema said independent films have struggled at their theaters for some time, and the series began as a way to bring more attention to an otherwise overlooked form of film.
"Generally, when we book movies we'll book them for a two-week run, and if it plays well, then we'll hang onto it, but indie films never play well, so for us it's been a challenge."
In order to remedy this issue, Celebration! Cinema and the East Lansing Film Society modified the approach that was previously taken for screening independent films, and came up with a model that maximized the amount of exposure these movies would get.
"The concept was to take a screen and book multiple indie films to take that full screen for an extended four-week run," Kress said. "We've found with indie films that word of mouth is the best thing to promote them, since there is no national media push behind these films."
The new series allows Celebration! to play multiple selections on a rotating schedule, allowing for a more diverse set of films for audiences to choose from. Each movie has on average about four to five showings per week, and the time slots for each film changes every week to allow each film ample screen time. Susan Woods of the East Lansing Film Society works with the theater to select which films will be shown in each series.
Studio C! in Okemos was the first of Celebration!'s theaters to incorporate this new series into its schedule, and it worked.
"We saw great results," Kress said.
It did so well, in fact, that they decided to take the same concept and test it out in Grand Rapids. Celebration! Cinema North has already agreed to run the September series and a separate October one as well.
"Our hope is to see this program expand even further down the road," Kress said. "It might show at Celebration! Rivertown or our theater in Kalamazoo."
For more on the series, or to submit an indie film recommendation of your own, visit celebrationcinema.com/indie.