These shots, taken by my hubby-photographer, are from last night's showing of the James Bond classic, Goldfinger at Cinema La Placita, downtown Tucson. For $3.00 per person you have admission to the movie, all the popcorn you can eat, and the ambience of a friendly summer Tucson crowd. Interested in how this "brightspot" was created? Read more, based on and AnitaWrites interview with Cinema La Placita's founder, Erika O'Dowd.
Erika, a Tucson native, lived in New York City for three years and went to the free Monday night movies in Bryant Park. She enjoyed the "mingling with others" and "shared experiences" that happened when people "checked in every week." When she returned home, she learned that the DeAnza Drive-In was closing and started to inquire about the idea of a downtown community movie event. At the time, she was working as Marketing Director for La Placita Village and was asked to create a "signature weekly event" for La Placita. Thus, the beginning of the event in 2000. They operated under the umbrella of several Tucson organizations: Community Partnership for Southern Arizona, The Loft Cinema and Tucson Meet Yourself and, in 2011, became their own nonprofit. In the beginning, they offered free reel-to-reel movies, but bought their own digital equipment six years ago which encouraged intermissions, donations and mingling. Rental costs also required the affordable admission requests. The overall goal of Cinema La Placita is to "create an experience that is not the same as watching a movie at home or at another theatre," according to Erika and adding, "come late, leave early, but don't go home after work or do go home but come back out...don't stay in your cubicle."
And what about the threat of monsoons in the summer spoiling the movie fun or other mishaps? Erika described one night, during the showing of "The Yellow Submarine", it started to rain but folks didn't want to leave, so they put the movie screen under a building overhang and the show went on. Another time, the screen fell down and her husband (who also works the popcorn stand with Erika) and the movie's sponsor had to hold up the screen. She now has kids who came with their parents and help out with volunteer tasks or put on hand puppet shows during the intermission. Erika envisions a future where the Cinema can do "more stuff with different organizations, explore different genres and themes, build in more volunteers." The organization also partners with Downtown Tucson's 2nd Saturdays: "it's taken on a life of its own", she says, "people feel like they've discovered it."
So, put Cinema La Placita on your calendar. Make Thursday nights an early summer start for your weekend and make Cinema La Placita a "brightspot"in your life. http://www.cinemalaplacita.com/