The Arkansas Cinema Society’s new series Movies on Main Street will screen independent films at downtown main street theaters throughout Arkansas, bringing such films to areas where screenings are rare. The ACS has partnered with inVeritas, Landmark, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts and state arts agencies to fund the program.
ACS Executive Director and Founder Kathryn Tucker said the mission of Movies on Main Street is to reach areas in Arkansas outside the central Arkansas region. The ACS will screen independent films at single-screen theaters in towns where screening events do not usually take place. Tucker says her goal is for Arkansas communities to see independent films not normally shown in movie theaters with a live audience.
"The mission is three-fold," Tucker said. "We want to reach audiences with independent films throughout Arkansas, build our network throughout Arkansas and also help support local independently owned movie theaters."
The screening of Antiquities, an independent movie created by Arkansas filmmakers, will be the inaugural film of the Movies on Main Street series. Antiquities is a coming-of-age story that follows a young man seeking answers about his deceased father. He embarks on a quest to his father’s hometown and meets an eclectic group of characters at the antique mall where his father was employed. Tucker says comedy and romance ensues.
Movies on Main Street launches at Malco Fort Smith Cinema 16 on Nov. 23. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the screening of Antiquities begins at 7:00 p.m.The movie screening, a Q&A with six filmmakers and an after-party are covered with a $5 ticket. Tucker said ACS staff considered making tickets for Movies on Main Street free, but they have noticed lower attendance rates at free events. She said attendance is more important to the ACS staff than making a profit.
"We wanted it to actually be free, but we find that when someone has paid for something it makes them more likely to actually come," Tucker said.
The Arkansas Arts Council gives grants to main streets throughout Arkansas as part of their Main Street Arkansas program. The council provided a list of grant-funded main streets to the ACS. Tucker said ten or 11 of the main street locations on the list have independently owned and operated theaters. She said those locations will be used for future screening events.
According to Tucker, the ACS staff plan events with a strict budget in mind. She says the future of the program depends on funding and expenses surrounding the first event.
"We’re planning on doing at least four more next year depending on our budget," Tucker said. "We’ll see how this one goes and how much it costs and then we can pivot and plan further."
If the event sells out, tickets will be unavailable at the door. Tucker encourages people to reserve their tickets online.