Oscar season is upon us. Hollywood is buzzing with stylists, hair and makeup artists all getting ready for the big night. Local superstar Jennifer Lawrence is once again a nominee for her movie, Joy. Back home, scores of fans will cheer her on.
Louisville may not be Hollywood or Sundance with its star-studded events and festivals but it has, for many years, nurtured a vibrant local film scene. More recently, with the advent of the Louisville Film Commission, the city is offering incentives to filmmakers both inside and outside the state to produce their projects here. The Commission, which launched last August, helps with permits, tax incentives and even offers a directory of film workers from camera operators to writers.
Louisville is home to many filmmakers and several enthusiast groups that routinely share both local and national films. In addition to these creators and groups, there is a movie watching culture growing and thriving in Louisville. Several organizations and businesses outside of traditional theatres offer movie nights. For example, the University of Louisville offers free or very inexpensive movies often and sells refreshments at prices that students appreciate.
Speaking with a few of these groups and filmmakers, the excitement about what has been happening and what is to come is palpable.
A Thriving Film Culture
“I think there is great momentum with film in general in Louisville and throughout Kentucky. Louisville, has an amazing film scene/community with a ton of great artists living and working right there. The growth of the film industry over the last five years has been inspirational, and I think people are excited about the potential of making a real living by making movies,” shares “The Baby Shower” and “Raising Ms. President” filmmaker and Louisville-resident Kiley Lane Parker.
Likewise, Filmmaker and Director of the Louisville Film Society (LFS) Soozie Eastman feels that Louisville bursts with fine talent.
“Much like the Louisville art scene as a whole, there are amazing talented filmmakers ranging from hobbyists to professionals in our town,” she says. “It’s such a collaborative medium, and many people have been working together for decades.”
Filmmaker and owner at Square8 Productions David Brewer says, “Local film culture is thriving with the advent of the Louisville Film Society, the tax incentives (which I hope Bevin gives a long look at keeping to give it a fighting chance) and a growing number of quality films each year.”
Moving forward, Brewer says he would like to see more cohesion between the folks with the most resources, whether that be experience, equipment, or finances and the serious creators who are trying to be seen and heard.
All are cautious and looking for ways to increase representation of diverse storytelling and experiences. Eastman stresses that LFS stands on its inclusive record, “Inclusion and support of all races, sexual orientations, religions and genders allows our medium to be much more dynamic and have a larger scope of focus. It would be a tragedy to not lift up films by all filmmakers whose work helps us to understand the stories of underrepresented people and therefor make us feel closer as a human family.”
Films Share Diverse Stories
Currently, there are festivals keeping diverse stories alive. Just this month the Jewish Film Festival through the Jewish Community Center and the African American Film Festival through the Muhammad Ali Center highlights both the Jewish and the African American experiences. Other festivals highlighting diversity will happen throughout the year, including the LGBT film festival toward the end of the year.
For what’s happening in the local film scene, there are several places to get your movie fix. Louisville is home to many theatres that play regular first run features. Outside of the bigger theatre, several options exist for the public to interact both with filmmakers and other film enthusiasts.
Coming up on February 28, 2016 at 7 p.m., LFS will host their annual Oscars Watch Party. This year the party will be at Copper and Kings Distillery.Tickets are $100 and include a membership to the Louisville Film Society. LFS will also partner with the Speed Museum’s new Speed Cinema and host two Short Film Slams.
According to Eastman, “We will feature short films (narrative, documentary, music video and experimental) by film society members May 12 and September 8 at the state-of-the-art, 142-seat theatre that is being unveiled next March.”
Other and more non-traditional venues include: Seidenfaden’s whose Mondo Video night takes place on Monday Nights sharing art house, underground and experimental films and documentaries. Also, Kaiju offers their Night Train Cinema Lounge monthly focusing on cult, weirdo, obscure, foreign and rare films.
We may not have the glitz but the Louisville film scene is hardly sleepy. If anything it is just getting started.