My background is… abnormal.
Having studied youth ministry in college and returning to lead the very youth program I’d grown up in for eight years, my innate love for cinema struggled to find an outlet. Writing movie reviews was a practice born out of the intense desire for my love of cinema to MEAN something; to escape my own heart and be expressed somewhere beyond myself.
My interest in the pursuit of faith and justice more or less warred with my desire to make the cinema more and more a part of my life. These competing interests eventually led to my move to Austin in order to pursue a film industry career at 30 years old with not a speck of formal training. Countless internships and contract positions gave me a broad exposure to the film industry and Austin, TX fast became a new home. But for as broad of an experience as I found, the depth of experience in entry level film industry positions is minimal… as is the pay. Financial stability or even steady work is something of a forgotten dream for many film professionals. As thrilling as it was to indulge in my passion for cinema, from which Cinapse was born, the deep need for financial stability (and my focus on justice) were now missing pieces to the puzzle.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, a couple of Austin-based schemers (if ever there were two) were dreaming up an incredible vision. Alan Graham, President and CEO of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, was building an unprecedented community in east Austin designed to house 250 chronically homeless and disabled folks. With micro-enterprise at the heart of this vision, Alan was looking for ways to generate a modest living income for the residents who found new homes at Community First! Village. Simultaneously, Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League found himself on a board of business owners in Austin’s 6th Street district who were wrestling with the very present downtown homeless population. Tim wasn’t satisfied with the solutions being discussed, and went in search of some solutions to homelessness he could believe in. When Tim and Alan connected and found a shared interest in a radical way to combat homelessness, the early seeds of the Community Cinema were born.
Today a gorgeous amphitheater sits on our 27 acre village, designed by the Drafthouse to screen outdoor movies. Community First’s concessions micro-enterprise is ready to employ our residents, offering them meaningful work as they sell concessions to our Cinema guests. Alan and Tim’s vision is coming together beautifully, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it as the Community Cinema Director. The only missing piece, really, is you.
But we’re ready for you.
This week will be the very first of many screenings open to the public. You’re invited and welcome. Friday, May 6th, at 7:40pm we’ll gather to watch the greatest theatrical experience of 2015: Mad Max: Fury Road. Our amphitheater is pristine, our projection system (custom built inside of an Airstream trailer) is shining bright, and our concessionists are excited to serve you. Did I mention it’s FREE? Because it is. Your free tickets can be found here.
When I hightailed it to Austin from the DC suburbs in hot pursuit of a flashy film career, I never could have dreamed this is where I’d end up. Nor did I conceive that the joy would be so deep. Community First! Village is a place of radical hospitality and restorative dignity. The Alamo Drafthouse is revitalizing the cinema-going experience all over the country. And somehow these two organizations have come together and want to show you great movies while giving you the opportunity to be a part of the genuine reconnection of hundreds of disconnected people back into a loving community.
The communal power of motion pictures and the desire for restorative justice meet at Community Cinema, and all you’ve got to do to be a part of that is show up and buy some snacks from enthusiastic connectionists who are even more happy to be there than you will be.
And I’m Out.