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Making film work
Hey Fresno, guess what?
You need an arthouse theater. No joke.
"I don't know if Fresno knows it needs it. But it needs it," says John Moses, president of Fresno Filmworks, the nonprofit group that shows first-run international and American independent films once a month at the Tower Theatre.
Yeah, he's talking to you.
It doesn't have to be big or glitzy, just a couple of screens and a few hundred seats. Some place that's dedicated to cinema as art. Some place that's not Regal or Criterion (or whatever they'll be putting in at Campus Pointe).
But we'll file that under life-ain't-fair and talk about Fresno Filmworks instead, because it's what you have and it's probably underappreciated and its 3rd Annual Fresno Film Festival is running this weekend at the Tower Theatre. Tickets start at $10 (but you should go for the deal. Forty dollars gets you the whole she-bang).
"On one level it's an expansion of the art scene in Fresno," says Moses, who has been the president of Filmworks for the past five years.
But it's also about advancing the opportunity for film in Fresno.
The Filmworks' board is cinema literate, for sure. Members keep abreast of what's what in indie film, traveling to San Francisco or Los Angeles to see pictures that don't make it to town. Moses is in constant contact with distributors, trying to get films even before they get into commercial release. Many of Regal's art films (on short Monday-Tuesday releases) have already shown at Filmworks, Moses says.
And Filmworks has shown some big-time indies (like Pedro Almodóvar's "La Mala Educación" and Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion"), and has even expanded their run over two days to accommodate larger audiences.
But the festival steps it up. It will show in nine separate programs and feature 22 films from 12 countries, along with a free filmmaker's panel and a filmmaker's showcase with a followup discussion. Its theme, the craft of film, is a nod to Fresno's working-class roots, Moses says. The panel reflects that. Forget actors and directors — these are behind-the-scenes guys, an editor, animator, cinematographer and composer.
And the movies, which run the gamut from family film ("Opal Dream"), documentary ("Everything's Cool") and short films (seven of them, all Oscar nominated), connect to the town's experiences in a real way.
So, to recap:
Fresno, you need an art-house theater. You've got Filmworks.
Just go see some film.