The DC Independent Film Festival is proud to have inaugurated the oral history project, Going to the Movies. Starting in DC, we are collecting, interpreting and presenting the memories and stories of neighborhood theaters and their communities.
Going to the Movies draws on oral histories to connect individual movie-going experience to collective memory, place-making and local knowledge. By examining this alongside formal film histories, we explore the ways in which watching films has become part of the identity, community and social life of American history. Whether you remember going to the movies as your first date, or the teenagers local meet-up place, or talking about the latest film that everyone must see, or whether it was the popcorn, the matinees, the fandom, the man snoring the corner… all these make the film-going experience more than just being an audience, but rather a dynamic social community experience.
The “screen” experience in neighborhood movie theaters, drive-ins, mall theaters and other venues is a defining aspect of the mid-century American experience, but is unlikely to be the same in the future as it was in the past. We hope that this oral history collection and interpretation project captures, reveals and shares the community and historical experiences around an important part of American life.
The Washington DC Independent Film Festival’s basic tenet is that going out to the movies continues to be a community engagement that resonates even in an age of hand-held screens, private viewing and selflies and so we are delighted to be working on this project.