Start Your Week With Magnolia Mondays

Violet Crown season highlights the indie powerhouse

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, part of the new Magnolia Mondays season beginning tonight at Violet Crown Cinema

Starting tonight, Violet Crown Cinema has launched Magnolia Mondays, a series celebrating the best films released by Magnolia Pictures, the indie film distribution outfit co-founded in 2001 by Bill Banowsky and Eamonn Bowles.

For Banowsky, who is also the owner of Violet Crown Cinema and programmed the new screening series, the partnership was a no-brainer. “Given my history with both companies, it just made sense to do this,” he said. “When we started Violet Crown in 2011, it was with much of the same spirit that inspired Eamonn and me to start Magnolia 10 years earlier – a desire to showcase the best in independent cinema, to bring to audiences movies that matter.”

For the next 16 weeks, Magnolia Mondays will showcase a different title from the distributor’s extensive collection, which contains nearly 20 years’ worth of titles ranging from beloved arthouse indies to foreign features and Oscar-winning films. Banowsky explained that his goal was “to make the first set of films as accessible as possible. … I’ve had the idea of doing this series for quite a while, to tap into the wonderful library that Eamonn Bowles and his team at Magnolia have assembled.”

That library includes acclaimed contemporary favorites such as Luca Guadagnino’s I Am Love (Feb. 11 & 18), Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (Feb. 25 & March 4), and Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (March 25 & April 1).

Although he’s fond of every film in the series, Banowsky is particularly excited to show Man on Wire (March 11 & 18). James Marsh’s exhilarating documentary, which chronicles tightrope walker Philippe Petit’s daring (and illegal) high-wire walk between New York City’s Twin Towers, will screen in March to celebrate the Oscar-winning film’s 10th anniversary. “Man on Wire is one of those rare documentary films that plays like an edge-of-your-seat thriller,” said Banowsky, “and it absolutely must be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate the death-defying feats that are so beautifully captured in this film.”

Banowsky is also fond of Jiro Dreams of Sushi (April 8 & 15), David Gelb’s 2011 documentary about world-renowned sushi master Jiro Ono and his famed Tokyo restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi is wonderful in every way,” said Banowsky, who noted that while it is “first and foremost a movie about the art of creating great sushi, it’s also a movie about family and about the peace and joy that comes from bringing passion to one’s work every day, even when sleeping.” There’s another reason why Jiro Dreams of Sushi holds a special place in Banowsky’s heart: “My wife and I love great sushi, and we’re fortunate to live in Austin, where we have so many outstanding restaurants.” (His favorite? Uchi, which he called “[my] favorite restaurant of any kind, anywhere.”)

Other films in the new series include Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean monster thriller, The Host (April 22 & 29), Raoul Peck’s poetic documentary I Am Not Your Negro (Jan. 28 & Feb. 4), and opening the series tonight, last year’s acclaimed Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary from directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen, RBG (Jan. 14 & 21). If all goes according to plan, this will be the first of multiple Magnolia Mondays runs. “We have already begun planning our second series, which will be announced soon,” said Banowsky. “We plan to continue Magnolia Mondays for as long as cinema audiences want to show up at Violet Crown on a Monday night and pay $5 to see great art films, presented in the way the filmmakers intended.”


Magnolia Mondays runs through April @Violet Crown Austin (434 W. Second). Tickets and info at austin.violetcrown.com.

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