If you’re tired of shelling out the big bucks for movie tickets at the multiplex – and why wouldn’t you be? – consider that Savannah, which is quickly becoming something of a cultural epicenter, gives you more than one option.
Here, you can share the room with films drawn from every corner of the cinematic sphere, from the artsy to the experimental, to the world–famous, to the just plain bizarre.
No superhero blockbusters here, no insipid rom-coms, no big–budget sequels to dopey movies that should never have been made in the first place.
And, best of all, no paying $15 for a watered–down soda and a wimpy bag of butter-flavored popcorn.
Welcome to the world of alternative cinema, as welcome in a college town as free beer and pizza.
Here’s a quick guide to the scene on the alt–screen.
The Sentient Bean
13 E. Park Ave. Jim Reed is Savannah’s reigning reel–meister, and the Bean – a funky and comfortable coffeehouse on the southern edge of Forsyth Park – is where he holds court every Wednesday night. His operation is called the Psychotronic Film Society, and the Wednesday shows generally consist of obscure horror and sci–fi movies. There’s also a week–long Psychotronic Film Festival early in the year. “The overwhelming majority of films that I show are not bad,” Reed told us. “They’re not even ‘so bad they’re good.’ They’re actually really interesting, good films that have fallen through the cracks, for whatever reason.” See myspace.com/psychotronicfilms
Muse Arts Warehouse
703D Louisville Road. Again, Jim Reed, who intently feels the void left by the big theater chains and their apparent mission to be “all things to certain people.” At Muse, he screens “Movies Savannah Missed,” consisting of studio films (such as The Runaways or That Evening Sun) that weren’t big–enough box office draws to get booked at the chains, but still critically acclaimed and therefore desirable. Next up on Oct. 10 is American Grindhouse, the 2010 documentary on American exploitation films. And there’s an all–day horror film fest at Muse on Halloween.
32 Abercorn St. The big performing arts hall just off Broughton (you can’t miss the brightly–lit marquee) is home to the Shadows and Light: Surrealism and the Cinematic Canvas series, picking up from the spring on Sept. 28 (it consists of surreal and/or experimental films from the 1920s). The Southern Circuit of Independent Filmmakers checks into the Lucas from time to time – on Oct. 9, the acclaimed Mississippi Damned will be onscreen, with writer and director Tina Mabry in attendance. For a full schedule, see lucastheatre.com
216 E. Broughton St. “The mission of the SCAD Cinema Circle is to provide film lovers and students with an enriched viewing experience of first–class, award– winning and cutting–edge films from around the world.” That says it all. The Trustees is where the Savannah Film Festival is centered when it arrives Oct. 30–Nov. 6, with titles and events to be announced soon. Until then, SCAD Cinema Circle has a bunch of classics ready for the big screen, including Easy Rider (Sept. 24), The 400 Blows (Oct. 8), Dirty Harry (Nov. 12) and the 1927 Metropolis (Jan. 8). Each screening includes pre– and post–film discussions with SCAD’s resident cinephiles. For a schedule, go to scad.edu/news/2010/cinema–circle–schedule.cfm
207 W. York St. Reel Savannah has been around since 2003, bringing independent, foreign and just plain interesting films to town on a regular basis. The Jepson schedule includes the Savannah premiere of the soccer documentary Palada Sept. 24, with Todd Solondz’ Life During Wartime at the Victory Square multiplex Oct. 24. See reelsavannah.org.
The Jepson Center, part of the Telfair complex, also takes up the slack for Surrealism and the Cinematic Canvas, with screenings of two French films in late September/early October.
And the Savannah Gay and Lesbian Film Society’s annual three–day film festival, featuring Baby Jane, Undertow, The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister and others, is scheduled for the Jepson Oct. 15–17. See savannahgaylesbianfilmsociety.com