First seen in our NUVO's 2014 CityGuide (available here), now in a slightly expanded edition, here's a rundown of where we'll be watching movies this fall.
What a shame the IU Cinema wasn't up and running while I was in Bloomington. The only consolation is that the state's best cinema (in terms of programming and technology, if not refreshments) is only about an hour's drive away. I'll spare you the full rundown of noteworthy past guests like Werner Herzog, Abbas Kiarostami and Glenn Close. Nor need I cite technical specs — just know that the cinema has top-of-the-line picture and sound. I will mention how the IU Cinema's classic movie house look, with panels from a Thomas Hart Benton mural flanking the screen, helps to elevate whatever you're watching, not that classics running in 35mm in the best possible conditions need any help.
The big dogs in town remain Heartland and Indy Film Fest, but our resident LGBT fest manages to program an impressive weekend of films at the IMA each November, screening some big features while giving a chance to first-time filmmakers. Last year, the fest scored some real gets, including I Am Divine, a doc about John Waters' muse that subsequently played plenty of art houses, and Interior. Leather Bar., James Franco and Travis Matthews' reimagining of 40 minutes of explicit footage deleted from the grotty 1980 film Cruising. We have Indy Pride to thank for the fest's continued well-being; the non-profit took over in 2011 as “fiscal agent” for the festival, which still does an annual fundraising event for Indiana Youth Group.
Sometimes when communities restore classic one-screen cinemas like the Artcraft, they decide to convert them to multi-purpose performing arts centers, taking out the projectors, putting in an orchestra pit, etc. Which is great for the performing arts, but not so excellent for those who still like seeing old movies in old movie houses. Praise is due, then, to the people of Franklin, who decided that they still want to watch movies on the big screens — and, usually, classic ones that the whole family can enjoy, except for during Artcraft's fall mini-festivals, because Universal horror or Hitchcock can still spook the youngsters.
The Toby at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
The fall's a bit slow for the IMA in terms of its film programming, in between their two classic film series, the outdoor Summer Nights and indoor Winter Night in the Toby. But we expect that to change in coming years with new personnel in place that has an eye toward using all of the IMA's venues and reaching new audiences. The Toby remains one of the city's few places equipped to show archival 35mm prints — and as such, is well-poised for any sort of expansion in programming beyond the already impressive (if too short) Winter Nights classic films series. And it's not like fall's completely barren: Check out the Nov. 21 premiere of B-Movie Bingo, which asks audience members to fill out a Bingo board squares like “White Suit or Tropical Ending” and “Long Boring Scene or Male Ponytail.” We're liking where the IMA is headed.
My favorite part of Heartland? The shorts. Why? First off, in a world of bloated features that would've worked better in under and hour, I appreciate the economy of a good short. And because short films almost never make it into commercial distribution (unless they're by Pixar, Wes Anderson or have been nominated for an Oscar), your only chance to see them on a big screen is at festivals. And Heartland gets some of the best. Sure, they all have to align with Heartland's uplifting mission, but the great thing about the festival in recent years is that uplifting hasn't always equaled heartwarming or family-friendly. Meaning that you'll see a wide variety of people, places and worldviews on screen. And while there's truth to the saying that if you hate one short, there's another hard on its heels, the quality of shorts at Heartland is such that even if you hate it, it usually has some redeeming quality, so it's rare to see an exceptionally bad egg that spoils the rest of the program.