Thursday, September 10, 2009

Festival to celebrate film, a landmark and ending hunger

It's a celebration of movies and food (and not Goobers or popcorn) and a building that has been a gathering spot for 45 years, old by Charlotte standards.

Organizers of the week-long Charlotte Film Festival, which opens Sept. 21, wanted to make the event more meaningful. So they're opening at the Park Terrace Cinema, which turns 45 this year, with the 45-year-old Cold War satire "Dr. Strangelove."

The opening night, which will also include Charlotte filmmaker John Schwert's "In/Significant Others," is free -- with a donation of nonperishable food to the Second Harvest Food Bank to fight hunger.

The non-profit festival is designed to bring undiscovered talent and great cinema to Charlotte. Organizers are also committed to educate the public about film, and build partnerships. So they're using the upcoming festival to raise awareness of the need for more food as a growing number of the unemployed rely increasingly on food banks.

The festival hopes to raise 500 pounds of nonperishables to donate to the cause.

"We wanted to focus on how the festival impacts a community and not just in the choice of films," said Jennifer Bratyanski, the festival program director. "It's great to celebrate film, but what does it matter if you can't help the community.

"In this economy, Second Harvest is a very important nonprofit that needs help. Film nourishes the heart and soul. Food nourishes the body."

Bratyanski, who teaches U.S. history at Central Piedmont Community College and Queens University, grew up in Charlotte and spent a lot of her childhood at Park Terrace, in the Park Road Shopping Center. It's where she saw "ET," where she took her slumber parties. "The space has a lot of memories for me," she said. "We all laughed and cried there -- it's the perfect place to open the festival and celebrate a landmark.

"There aren't many left in Charlotte."

Only one of the theaters at Park Terrace is being used to show Stanley Kubrick's classic and the film by Schwert, who will be at the showing. It has 95 seats. Bratyanski is asking patrons to arrive early with cans of food to drop in collection boxes by 6:15 p.m. The movie will start at 6:30 p.m.

"We're expecting a great crowd for this classic movie at a classic venue," she said. "We want patrons to give back to the community that allows this festival to be here. And we want to help Second Harvest, one of the most important charities we have in the area. It handles basic needs of every human."

For information about the festival's offerings and ticket sales click here.