Short Cuts

Two more movie houses are closing -- the Lake Creek Festival Theater and Village Cinema Art --both part of Regal Cinemas' countrywide house cleaning.

I Told You So Dept.: It wasn't long ago that Austin seemed to have as many theatres as it did bookstores, nearly all of which were part of high-dollar national chains. Plans for even more cineplexes were in the works and/or already under construction, and even venerable indie stalwarts such as the Dobie Theatre were being usurped by nationally corporatized affairs. (The Dobie changed hands from longtime owner Scott Dinger to the national arthouse chain Landmark Theatres more than a year ago.) Common sense told us that even a boomtown like Austin couldn't sustain that many cinematic newcomers -- the average citizen only goes to roughly six or seven films a year, even in such a film-centric community as ours -- and so it was only a matter of time before this theatrical tsunami swept back out to sea, taking a handful of hapless Austin movie houses along for the ride. Recent months saw the closing of General Cinema's Highland 10 and the Great Hills 8, as well as Regal Cinema's Riverside 8. This week brings news of two new impending closures, both part of the Regal Cinemas chain -- the Lake Creek Festival Theater, which will shutter its doors on Feb. 11, and (this one really hurts) the Village Cinema Art, scheduled to go dark Feb. 4. Both of the closings are part of a countrywide house cleaning by Regal, who has found its older, more traditional theatres (read: those lacking stadium-style seating and screens big enough to pilot Michael de Luca's ego through) losing out to the new breed of bigger, louder, and woefully more impersonal multiplexes. The Village Cinema Art, in particular, holds fond memories for many Austin filmgoers. Before Regal switched its arthouse booking to the more lavishly appointed Arbor 7 in 1997, the Village was the place to go for ars gratia artis. Since the switchover, the Village has more or less been one of the walking wounded, acting as the chain's local arthouse holdover venue, and, truth be told, its demise is not entirely unexpected. Still, for this filmgoer, genuine events such as the movie house's packed Trainspotting premiere and various filmic discoveries (I caught the re-release of Pasolini's Mamma Roma, coincidentally playing this Tuesday at 7:30pm at the Arbor Theatre, which kick-started my continuing interest in that remarkable director). The Village -- squeaky seats, tatty screens, and all -- will be sorely missed... In other, less final news, the monthly Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers will hold their next salon this Monday, Jan. 29, 7pm. At press time, the location and speakers have yet to be announced. Interested parties -- essentially everyone reading this column -- should call AIVF Salon Coordinator Anne del Castillo at 507-8105 or e-mail her at LABC@att.net for more info on this (as always) free event... The Texas Film Network will be hosting a fundraising party on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Speakeasy (412 Congress, entrance in the alleyway), 7pm--midnight. Proceeds from the event are slated to assist in the pre-production funding of local filmmaker Ray Melendez's upcoming feature, One Way. The event will include a silent auction featuring movie-related gear from such film luminaries as John Landis and Robert Rodriguez, as well as food, drinks, and grooves. Admission is $7, and the film's casting director will also be on hand to accept headshots. More info is available by calling Brandon Howe at 682-6988... Finally, local animator Alan Watts (referred to in this column recently as Alan Ball -- apologies to both Watts and American Beauty scribe Ball), the man behind the popular "animate it your own damn self!" site www.16color.com, has been working with the Nickelodeon network's kid-friendly offshoot Noggin of late. You can check out his groovy animations for the network at live.noggin.com/thelab/noggimation/.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

village cinema art, lake creek festival, alan watts, 16color.com, ray melendez, texas film network, Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers

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