Today, we are a culture of shared optimism, shared opportunity, and a shared outlook that people with good ideas are worthy of our distant, impersonal support. Just take – oh I don’t know – the success of crowd funding websites like Kickstarter for creative projects and gofundme for business. So it’s a cause for a collective sense of aplomb when one of our crowd-sourced, open-project, grass-roots endeavors managed to find it’s way into the fiery spotlight.
Girl Walk // All Day is such a product. From the filming funds, to the sets, to the way it’s brought into movie theaters and venues, this independent film about three characters dancing through the streets of New York is about as independently crowd-sourced by YOU as it gets. Girl Walk // All Day will be finding it’s way into Central Texas this Sunday, August 19th as Austin’s ultra-hip Cinema East will be bringing the film and a healthy array of complimentary arts to the East Side for their Summer Closing filming.
This summer, Cinema East highlighted the independent film industry’s achievements and their underrated, but still relevant titles. They are the folks responsible for flying Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) and director Bob Byington in for a filming of their Somebody Up There Likes Me, which made it’s international debut at SXSW this year. In their 3rd season, Cinema East moved into a bigger venue – Yellow Jacket Track Field – and was able to screen titles such as Gayby (dir. Jonathan Lisecki) and King Kelly (dir. Andrew Neel). Austin is known for their filmophile populace. Where else could a concept like the Alamo Drafthouse thrive? Cinema East provides an important for film’s fringe directors, and a chance for ambitious, largely idealistic art projects such as Girl Walk // All Day to be seen. With a soundtrack provided by Greg Gills (a.k.a. Girl Talk), this millennial love letter to New York and the infectious joy of movement showcases a generation’s love for their music and their free spirit.
Cinema East is also remarkable for their (ahem) mash-up of musical talent along with their taste in films. This year’s closing evening features the debut of a new music video by Austin’s Neiliyo and sets by DJ Mouthfeel. Cinema East will also be providing sparklers to bring the summer film series to a close. Kindform had an opportunity to chat with Cinema East co-founder and co-producer Maggie Lea for a chat about the company’s history and where it’s going.
KF: How did Cinema East begin?
ML: Cinema East began in 2010, after I had gone to numerous film festivals in 2008 and 2009, including Tribeca, Sundance, SXSW and Marfa Film Festival. I started the company with my friend Scott at the time, who has since moved away and isn’t part of the company anymore, but we sat down and thought- “We have so many free and accessible live music shows in Austin, but as far as film goes, there just aren’t very many avenues for a good, new, cutting-edge indie film by an up-and-coming filmmaker that doesn’t require either hundreds of dollars for distribution in theaters, or a $500 badge and a plane ticket to a festival to see the film.” Cinema East was created because at the time there was no other outdoor film series in Austin, and we wanted to fill the gap and create a community of casual film-goers during the summertime, which is also usually the off-season for film festivals, and we wanted to program films that our friends made, and that our Austin-friends could enjoy outdoors in a “big-backyard” environment.
KF: Being in your third season, how do you go about choosing the films?
ML: Carlyn Hudson and I go to festivals and watch the films and pick ones we like. We contact the distributor or the filmmaker themselves, usually, and they usually have heard of if not attended Cinema East before, so they are normally very willing to have their film screened. We also take submissions through our site. With the film industry changing so much, when you tell a filmmaker that you can get 600-800 people out on one single night to see their film, it’s usually a go.
KF: What’s your objective with each Cinema East Screening?
ML: We want it to feel like the audience is connecting with the film from a place of complete openness. I’ve been told by many people that they feel a great sense of freedom when they participate in CE, like they are part of the creation of the event and part of deciding what they are seeing at the screening. Of course, the films are pre-programmed, but the idea is that each of the 500 people who come out per screening feel like they are taking part in something accessible to them, whether that’s being able to hang out with the filmmaker (something an audience member may not get to do at a festival unless they went to a private party) or if it’s just that they are able to voice their opinion about the film in an arena and via an avenue that is light-hearted, open, and intellectual. Sometimes I think “parties” can be dull because they are just based on not-thinking, and not being aware of what’s around you, just diving into something and having a good time blindly. We want to have a party, but we want people to help us plan that party, and help us choose that film, and come up to us afterwards and say “I have an idea for a film you could screen”, “I know of a place you could screen it”. Cinema East is very much about living in public, about people using public spaces to express their otherwise private ideas.
KF: Plans for next year?
ML: We are going to move into the fall with in-theater screenings at Violet Crown, Alamo Drafthouse, with Austin Film Society, and many other venues. My plans are for Cinema East to grow out of its summertime shoes and into something even more conceptual, but larger, even more accessible, and even more versatile.
DETAILS FOR THE SHOW:
Girl Walk // All Day, directed by Jacob Krupnick
Cinema East Summer Closing Film
BYOB // $3 Cover // 9pm
Hot Dogs + Beer Sold on Site
Free Shiner Beer by Birds Barbershop
Free Dos Equis by Cheer Up Charlie’s
Yellow Jacket Track Field
1156 Hargrave St.
Austin, TX 78702