It was a sad day for local film fans when the Indywood Theater lost the lease on its Elysian Fields Avenue building in June of this year. But, as promised at the time by Indywood’s brother-sister founders and management team Will Sampson and Haley Sampson, this downtown hub for independent and regional film will rise again. Indywood has secured a new and permanent home at 3400 St. Claude Avenue at the corner of Desire Street in the Bywater.
In a true story that has already taken on the air of a fairy tale, a benefactor and fan of Indywood — who wishes to remain anonymous — purchased the building with the express purpose of offering the theater a long-term lease on its huge, 7,000-square foot first-floor space. The Sampsons have already developed plans for a two-screen theater along with a community coffee shop and a bar as city permits are acquired. Indywood plans to open the new theater in plenty of time to celebrate the second anniversary of the original theater’s launch, on January 23, 2016.
The Sampsons intend to continue Indywood’s potent mix of foreign, independent, local and regional films popular at the original theater and at this summer’s nomadic Indywood screenings. But a new wrinkle will be added to the programming schedule: audiences will be able to vote on which films are screened by buying advance tickets on the Indywood website. “Our goal is a community-curated theater,” Hayley Sampson said.
A crowd-funding campaign and other fundraising activities are in the works starting with a garage sale at the new Indywood this Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. The theater will celebrate the new space with on-site screenings (using portable gear) of Fats Domino documentary The Big Beat at 3 p.m. (with a director Q&A) and 7 p.m. (with a “blueberry dance party”). You just can’t keep a good theater down.
More info is available at the Indywood website.