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FilmScene officially unveiled

BY LILY ABROMEIT | NOVEMBER 22, 2013 5:00 AM

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Two pairs of large gold scissors and a red ribbon marked the sneak-preview opening of the only theater in downtown Iowa City.

FilmScene, a project that has been in the making for years, completed its series of soft openings Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re very close to a full-time opening,” said Andy Brodie, director and cofounder of FilmScene. “[This was] a prelude to the grand opening.”

Although Brodie said the official showings are scheduled to begin the weekend following Thanksgiving, the theater will offer “sneak peek” showings Friday and Saturday. The official grand opening will be Dec. 6, and the cinema will start showing movies on a consistent basis every weekend.

“Showing movies is why we exist, so we wanted to do that as soon as possible,” Brodie said.
Andrew Sherburne, a cofounder of FilmScene, said he is excited to finally be able to open the doors and fill the 68 seats of the theater, as he said it brings something unique to the downtown district.

“It brings a diverse vitality to the downtown nightlife 365 days a year,” he said. “I don’t think anything else we could have added to downtown Iowa City … would have had that social and cultural impact.”

Catherine Champion, the owner of Catherine’s, 7 S. Dubuque St., said she backed the project because she believes it will attract a broad range of people to the area.

“It will attract more people downtown, [and] it gives people a variety,” she said. “Variety is the spice of life.”

FilmScene has also paired with the University of Iowa student organization Bijou, which has helped create and support the project since the beginning.

“We’re committed to the same program, and we share a unified vision,” said Jesse Kreitzer, executive director of the Bijou film board.

Kreitzer said the combination of Bijou and FilmScene will be beneficial to both groups, especially with the new space.

“This space will be much more accessible to not only the students but also to the community,” he said. “[We wanted to] utilize the space to cultivate a collective body of filmmakers.”

Iowa City community member Amy Hospodarsky said she liked the concept behind the project.

“It will bring a new group of people downtown who maybe don’t have an outlet [otherwise],” she said, and she thinks it will attract a more arts and culture scene to downtown.

Brodie said inspiring such culture was the idea behind the theater.

“[It will] help grow the Iowa City film scene and make space for filmmakers and film lovers to gather together,” he said. “It can be tiring, but you feel energized when you see … a full house and … see people enjoying movies together. It makes it all worthwhile.”


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