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where culture goes to die

February 23, 2012

Wandering around in the Times’ online jungle, looking for the Letter to the Editor in the previous entry, I come across this.

Well, I don’t expect you to read it; it’s probably not even there anymore. So I’ll quote.

International film series

Yes, that’s right. In Antioch.

Apparently some guy started a foreign film series in Orinda–Orinda–and thought he’d like to have one here too, because the Campanil is just so cool. Which it is.

Now, where should I start?

“I see this lovely little theater and they don’t show a lot of films.”

Thus Mr. Efi Lubliner, the Orinda guy.

“El Campanil executive director and manager Rick Carraher said that…after seven years of screening classic films it is time for something different. ‘We have been challenged with our classic films. You can only show “Gone With the Wind” so many times,’ Carraher explained.”

Although I was under the impression that “classic film” spans at least 75 years of movie history, “Gone With The Wind” did keep turning up like a bad penny.

I took my niece to see it. I wanted her to know that there were people who thought about the antebellum South in those terms. There may be an excuse to show it once; there’s an excuse to see “Birth Of A Nation” once too. However, when a film like that shows up again and again, I’m sorry: something else is going on– something which doesn’t bode well for foreign film, I might add.

“We discontinued the classic films because we weren’t generating large enough attendance.”

Hmmm. Regular popular movies weren’t bringing them in, so you’re going to try Bulgarian films with subtitles?

Don’t get me wrong: I hope people flock to these. But in order to do that:

1) They need to know they’re there. There have been entire series at the Campanil (one of religious films, for example) which I’ve never seen advertised anywhere.

2) They need to be interested. Gone With The Wind clearly had its target audience, but I guess even they got fed up after awhile. Who is the target audience for these?

3) They need to be affordable. I know eight dollars doesn’t sound like much, but these days in Antioch, no one can afford anything.

“We bring movies that are good to this side of the Caldecott Tunnel.”

Mr. Lubliner. Darling. May I point out to you that North Platte, Nebraska is on this side of the Caldecott Tunnel?

“I’m proud of what we have done in Orinda,” Lubliner said. “Hopefully, it will bring people out. It comes from our hearts.”

I so hope this works. But this is not Orinda. It just has doom written all over it.

I mean, with a little thought, it might at least have a chance! I still can’t figure out who they expect to come see these films! They showed “Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” here a few years ago, with a Q&A afterwards by the filmmakers. The theater was packed– someone was interested, and they managed to find out about it, too.

It seems to me that if they are going to show “foreign” films, they need to focus it somehow. There are all kinds of communities in the area that might form a core audience for a variety of wonderful films. I mean, people have to do more than just wander in! Then, are they expecting people to drive out here from Concord? Walnut Creek? You’d better tell them why they’d want to do that, because believe me, right now they don’t.

So tell them this: There’s a fabulous, historic, theater in Antioch (uh huh, Antioch, shut up), right next to the water. Yes, water! In a very quiet, historic, UNDISCOVERED downtown district. It’s no further than going to Berkeley, when it comes to that. And– get this– YOU CAN PARK.

Still, though, where will they go after the show? Nowhere, unfortunately, unless they like sports bars.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2012 2:57 PM

    $8 *is* a lot right now, and an awful lot of the folks who care about Bulgarian films with subtitles aren’t in the top income bracket.

    No advertising? Who figures this stuff out? Even if they can’t afford radio or newspaper ads, it’s pretty cheap to print out some posters on regular paper and go around town and ask the small businesses if you can tape them in the windows. That’s mostly what happens in town here with the old theater. 8-1/2″ x 11″, done in Word or whatever. If you want extra attention, print it on bright pink or yellow paper.

    • E. A. Peregrine permalink
      February 25, 2012 12:11 AM

      Well, that’s what I thought! the place I mostly see local things are in windows– of course, I walk around a lot more than most people, but still, you have to go in and out! I think I even volunteered to put them up, once.

      Though it’s probably better I didn’t– everything I touch dies. I can’t imagine I could contribute to the popularity of Bulgarian films.

      Or how about one town website– Things To Do In Antioch? Where you could check every week to see what was coming up? That wouldn’t be hard to maintain.

      However, I’m informed this evening that the Campanil has been getting very good attendance. And Rick’s the restaurant has been sold, and they are planning to stay open after the shows!

      Antioch cafe society is being born, as we speak.

  2. February 29, 2012 9:29 AM


    Great to hear about Progress (or at least New Developments of the Cultural Kind!) in Antioch! :)

    I suppose things happen if you’re a trending topic in Twitter?? :)

    In fact, that was one of my ideas how they could reach more people for free too-? Twitter, (the dreaded) FB, other online media….? (You could maybe even charge them a small fee to advertise them on your Blog, though not sure if WP would like that? :)

    A lot can be done for free – and it sounds there may be people with time to do just that?? :)

    • E. A. Peregrine permalink
      February 29, 2012 6:15 PM

      Heck, they can advertise on my blog anytime they want, if they don’t care it’ll only be seen by people from Idaho and Slovenia.

      There is a website for the theater, and in all fairness I haven’t checked it for quite a while. You’re right about Twitter and Facebook, though– I mean, I follow CC Vector Control on Twitter! And even a lot of older people use Facebook… to look at their grandchildren, you know.

      I could create a PAGE, huh? though it would interfere with my minimalist aesthetic.


  1. U R Yokels « Heart Of The City

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