New venue The Coin Op will provide another screening space in September
Re-creation has always been part of a fascination with film. I don’t know many movie fans who have not at some point, especially as children, acted out their favorite scenes in their backyard.
There was a family in my neighborhood who had filmed a homemade re-creation of “Stars Wars” on a camcorder (with a few scenes from “The Princess Bride” thrown in) entirely with their action figures. Many of the scenes were improvised, making their home movie as funny and engaging as children could make it.
Before the internet, before the need for constant stimulation, children were often allowed to be bored and forced to entertain themselves. This leads to creativity and self-reliance, something kids need to grow into themselves as adults. Absence of direction, it seems, is as important as unique experience. But absence can go too far. Such is the subject of “The Wolfpack,” the first film in the Chattanooga Film Festival’s summer series.
“The Wolfpack” tells the story of seven brothers and a sister who are locked in a Lower East Side Manhattan apartment for 14 years by their father. The siblings are homeschooled, only allowed outside once or twice a year on structured trips that are controlled entirely by the man who holds all the power.
As a result of their confinement, the children know almost nothing of the outside world. What they do know comes from the films they watch. When the oldest brother turns 15, he disobeys his father and ventures out into their neighborhood. Soon after, the other siblings follow. The family begins to interact with the outside world.
They cope by using the only experience they have—they re-enact scenes from their favorite movies. “The Wolfpack” won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and has been described as “a haunting urban fable.”
Debuting at The Camp House on June 26, “The Wolfpack” is the beginning of a partnership between Mise En Scenesters and the Chattanooga Film Festival to continue to bring films to the city that would not come here otherwise. It is a complicated and expensive process. There is no doubt that MES screenings have declined in number as the film festival gained steam and director Chris Dortch found himself pulled in multiple directions.
But more than that, the remodeling of Barking Legs Theater and the absence of appropriate venues for screenings has been something of a struggle for MES. It seems venues in Chattanooga charge exorbitant prices for usage of their space, or have strange requests or rules for screenings, making programming rather difficult.
However, Dortch continues to move forward with his vision for Chattanooga film. “Both in terms of fundraising and in a growing level of awareness of CFF, I’ll be the first to admit I continue to be shocked every time someone has heard of CFF and thinks it’s exciting. It’s mostly just bizarre because all this started in my living room,” he says.
MES and the CFF are still looking for a home, somewhere to show the best independent films in the country to a crowd of people starving for those experiences. Thanks to Brian Hennen, another MES and CFF alum and staff member, there is some movement on that front.
Hennen is in the opening stages of a new arcade to be located near JJ’s Bohemia and the Bitter Alibi called The Coin Op. Hennen says, “The Coin-Op is going to be a melding of the sweet nostalgia that is the retro arcade and the creative forward thinking of the independent development community.
“From classic cabinets and pinball to indie game spotlights, I hope to create a dream hangout for the amazing and fast-growing tech community in this town.” In addition to being an arcade for the indie gamer, the Coin Op is going to work with MES and the CFF to provide a space for screenings, giving MES something of a home for the time being.
According to Dortch, “Hennen and I are big video game nerds as well, and the idea for the space is that in addition to being a traditional bar/arcade that there will also be a big stripe of doing good for indie software developers.”
The time line for the opening of Coin Op is September, but once it opens, MES and the CFF will have another avenue to exist, which is nothing but a positive for local film (and local gamers as well). It’s an exciting time in Chattanooga. See “The Wolfpack” on June 26. Visit the Coin Op in September. Support local film.
Friday, June 26, 8 p.m.
$5 in advance, $7 at the door
The Camp House
149 E. MLK Blvd.