I have a confession: I used to think movies were a waste of time.
All through middle school, movies served as soundtracks to awkward first dates. I eventually stopped going, because when someone said “film,” I immediately thought of “Simply Irresistible,” a 1999 feature starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Then Maiden Alley Cinema opened.
After seeing its screening of “Memento,” I suddenly understood what the fuss was all about. When I turned 16, I took a job there — not because of my abiding love for scrubbing down popcorn machines, but because it meant free movies. Free, good movies.
The reason I love the films at MAC isn’t always because they have some sort of message, or make me think more deeply, although that is often a side effect.
The appeal lies more in something a former president of the Paducah Film Society, Nathan Brown, reminded me of in a conversation about the cinema’s 11th birthday party this Saturday. It was a slogan I remembered seeing on the screen when MAC first opened: “Your window to the world.”
Brown said the programming at MAC makes the world seem like a bigger place, and I have to agree. A good movie is the most immediate, complete way to immerse oneself in a reality that’s different from, yet still relevant to, one’s own.
It’s possible for a quality art exhibit or concert to make me forget where I am. But when watching a quality movie, it’s almost impossible not to.
Recently, the board of directors at PFS has made efforts to widen the window for Paducah.
“Early on, it became clear that films alone were not going to keep the doors open,” MAC’s executive director Landee Bryant recently said. “However. it was about two years in before I became brave enough to really go against the grain and try something new.”
It may have taken awhile, but it does seem that the cinema is becoming a bigger part of the cultural landscape in Paducah. Under Bryant’s direction, MAC has provided a much-needed venue for local musicians, such as the Solid Rockit’ Boosters, as well as bands that tour internationally. The theater also added series such as Faith in Film, challenging viewers to see old movies in a new way, Bryant said.
I’d like to join the chorus of MAC supporters and invite the community to come to MAC’s birthday bash and costume contest on Saturday. You’ll be treated to some great music, as well as the company of some of the most passionate, dedicated people you’ll meet in Paducah.
These are people who know that, as Brown said, “you can’t live on ‘Batman’ alone.”
Call Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641.