I’ve heard tale of an ancient time when New Orleans was blessed with independent movie theaters, from legitimate single-screen cinemas to the overheated living rooms of shotgun houses where enterprising weirdos would sell you cheap beer & strange art films. By the time I was old enough to care, this cinematic paradise was gone. Up until a few years ago, the only independent theater holding on for dear life was The Prytania, a cultural institution that’s blessed our city with a hundred years of service. Most of our city’s independent cinemas had fallen to the crushing presence of AMC theaters in the suburbs and the convenience of home video.
Thankfully, things have changed. Just in the last few years, New Orleans’ independent movie scene has been veritably raised from the dead. In addition to the Prytania, we now have Chalmette Movies, Zeitgeist, Shotgun Cinema, The Theatres at Canal Place, outdoor Moonlight Movies screenings, the upcoming cinema on Broad Street and Indywood at the edge of the French Quarter. The city is buzzing with filmmaking & film watching activity. It’s a great time to be a cinephile in New Orleans.
One of the more exciting and more recent movie theaters in the city, Indywood, is looking to expand its scope & ambition through a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign. A much cozier & laidback downtown option than the too-rich-for-my-blood Theatres at Canal Place, Indywood is an intimate single-screen cinema on Elysian Fields, a few blocks from the river. It occupies a strange, comfortable middle ground between watching a film in a traditional theater and popping in a DVD in a friend’s living room. Much like the experience of seeing a film at Zeitgeist or the outdoor Moonlight Movies screenings, there’s a communal aesthetic to Indywood that can’t be achieved at a larger, corporate-owned venue.
Asking the very community it serves for a very reasonable donation to fund an expanse in programming, Indywood is looking to be more than just an intimate place to watch movies. According to the Kickstarter page, they’re looking to serve food & wine, play Saturday morning cartoons, and host stand-up comedy & discussions of classic works. They’re also looking to expand the ranges of films they screen to include spotlights on local films, African American films, silent films with live musical accompaniment and (most exciting to me) “80’s VHS gems”. The campaign’s “rewards” are also pretty cool, including a nifty t-shirt, private screenings, and the right to buy a seat in the theater that you’ll have the right to claim “no matter who’s sitting there for a whole year. Even if it’s Beyoncé.”
If you have the time or a few bucks to spare, help support the revival of New Orleans’ independent cinema scene by donating to the Indywood Kickstarter page or at least spreading it on social media. It has about two weeks left to reach its reasonable goal, but just over half of its funding secured. We at Swampflix would love to see their project completed.