Having a top-notch research university in Bloomington adds an extraordinary dimension to the movie-going experience. The university created a new media school which combines traditional journalism with a variety of other types of communication forms, including filmmaking. The campus also refurbished an old theater to create one of the most beautiful cinemas in the Midwest. The IU Cinema hosts an open-to-the-public series of films each year in which they screen everything from historically significant films to Hollywood blockbusters, independent art movies, and contemporary international films. Associate Director Brittany Friesner says, "Being on the IU Bloomington campus affords us the ability to engage world-renowned scholars and filmmakers in our programming. Community members and students alike have the opportunity to experience unparalleled access to some of the greatest thinkers and artists in the world through attending one of our Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lectures or by participating in a post-film Q&A at IU Cinema."
Of course, film was part of the Bloomington culture well before the IU Cinema opened, with the Ryder Film Series bringing international and independent films to the area for more than 25 years. The series features mainly first-run films from around the world. Series founder Peter LoPilato explains, "Many of these are low-budget films, at least by Hollywood standards. But what they lack in financing they more than make up for in creativity, enthusiasm and vision." This year the series will feature films from France, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Israel, Norway, and Afghanistan.
Most of these locations are pretty conventional screening venues, but Bear's Place - a restaurant and bar - stands out. LoPilato started the series at Bear's, and he recalls that in the early days it was difficult to convince distributors that it was a viable venue. "When we first started programming foreign-language films, the distributors found it hard to believe that we were screening them in a bar. And in one or two cases, they were horrified at the very thought and initially would not work with us. They assumed that a bar audience would be inattentive, if not rowdy and out of control. Our audiences at Bear's Place were anything but. Bear's would sell more salads during movies than they would beer." Luckily distributors caught on, and Bear's continues to offer a one-of-a-kind movie-going experience.
Records/Film/Books/Etc Caveat Emptor (112 N. Walnut) Cicada CinemaPop-up film screening series. IU Cinema (1213 E. 7th St) Landlocked Music (202 N. Walnut St.) Monroe County Main Library (303 E. Kirkwood) Morgenstern Books (849 S. Auto Mall Rd) The Ryder Pop up film series and magazine. Starlite Drive-In (7640 S. Old State Rd 37) TD's CD's & LP's (322 E. Kirkwood) Tracks Records/Movies (415 E. Kirkwood) Vintage Phoenix Comics (114 E. 6th St.) Vulture Video (120 E. 6th St.) WFHB Bloomington Community Radio (9108 West Fourth St.) Coffee/Chillzone/Etc 2b1af7f3a8