It might be a single-screen theatre in an outpost town with a year-round population of 1,280, but the Garden Theater in Frankfort is catching the attention of filmmakers around the world. Credit its biggest event, the Frankfort Film Festival.
“The first year we contacted people about showing their films, we got a lot of ‘Who are you and why are you calling?’ But now we’re seeing a lot of excitement,” says Rick Schmitt, co-owner of the Garden Theater.
The theater's fourth annual film fest starts today, October 18, and runs through October 21. The secret to its success is simple: Organizers focus on limited but sure-bet screenings – films that already have taken top honors at prestigious film festivals. This year’s event features 14 “Best of Show” titles from several worldwide film festivals, as well as five short films by Interlochen Arts Academy’s Motion Picture Arts program.
All of the films are selected by a committee, and community suggestions are welcome. The aim, says Schmitt, is simply to have a varied mix of quality films. Due to popular demand, six subtitled films will be presented this year – up from just one last year. In addition, two of the feature films – Christina and Nain Rouge – will be presented by the filmmakers, who will be on hand for discussion.
“If you could only see one film, I would probably recommend Beasts of the Southern Wild – it has been getting incredible reviews,” says Schmitt. “Another we’re really excited about is Caesar Must Die. This is only the third U.S. festival to show this movie – it’s been in Chicago, San Francisco and now Frankfort.”
The little festival isn’t escaping the notice of cinema fans beyond Frankfort’s borders either: A poll taken during last year’s festival shows that 25 percent of attendees traveled to the festival from greater than 100 miles.
Want to join the invasion? A festival pass, $60, reserves a seat for every movie. Individual tickets are $10 per film and are only made available one hour prior to the show. Find a full list of movies at frankfortgardentheater.com; watch a preview of the fest's films here.
Other Theater News
Deb Lake, executive director of the State Theatre and Traverse City Film Festival, tells The Ticker that the exterior restoration of the State Theatre should be complete – and the last wood construction tunnel removed – in two weeks. Only two sections of the theatre’s façade remain unfinished and awaiting the red, baked-enamel-on-steel tiles that were custom-made for the project in Belgium. The theatre did see one major construction milestone this week: On Wednesday night, all 16 soffit lights at the top of the theatre’s face shone down on the theatre for the first time since at least the early ’90s.
The Vogue Theatre of Manistee has raised nearly $1 million of the $2.2 million needed to complete the restoration of the historic theater, and construction is now underway. “We’re pleased and proud with how the community has come together to support this,” says Steve Brower, chairperson of the capital campaign. “At this point, we’re still hoping to be open in time for Christmas.”