Monday, April 13, 2015

The Third Event

The Bijou Film Center will stage its next event on Sunday, May 17, 2015. The program will include live music, actually quite a bit of it. It will also include short films and some magic. This time the event will not be built around a particular feature film. For information about the Bijou's two previous events click here and here.

This time the party will unfold between noon and 6 p.m. at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery. The purpose of this special event will be to introduce our film center concept to a wider audience, raise some money to help launch the Bijou's film transfer business, and to have fun doing it.

We'll tell you more about that film transfer business, ASAP. Meanwhile, this post is just a teaser to let everyone know about the time and date for the party.

Note: What we have in mind is a variety show. Accordingly, the live music lineup includes: Happy Lucky Combo and the Red Hot Lava Men. The headliner is Avers.

More details will follow soon.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five Film Favorites: Films That Play in the Summer Sun

by Todd Starkweather

During this past sunny RVA summer, I concocted a list of films that played in the snow: films that used the cold and snow as essential elements to their storytelling. So as the metro RVA area sits in the cold, rearranging its schedule to deal with school closings, I decided to provide a companion piece, films that utilized the sun, summer, or sweltering heat to further their stories and themes. I had considered opening this list's limitations to include films that utilized sunshine in their cinematography, but I soon realized that the Terrence Malick films would comprise the preponderance of films in my list. While Malick can shoot a gorgeous sun-filled scene (think of Martin Sheen surrendering to the authorities in Badlands), the sun and heat don't really further the storytelling. So I hope that this list of hot, sun-drenched films can bring some warmth as winter drags on. Presented in chronological order:

"12 Angry Men" (1957) - Directed by Sidney Lumet

Not until the final brief scenes does any of the action move outside of the courthouse and jury deliberation room, but the intense summer heat infiltrates that tiny space and begins to work on the nerves of the twelve jurors. The heat allows for diversionary conversation as the men crack windows, remove their suit coats, wipe their brows, and attempt to start a faulty electrical fan. This miserable, urban heat, with stifling humidity resembles the case in front of them. They want it to go away, be done with it and go somewhere more pleasant. But they have to wrestle with the decision just as endure the heat.

"Lawrence of Arabia" (1962) - Directed by David Lean

What an amazingly gorgeous film. This easily rivals Malick's films for sun-soaked beauty. And while I won't waste space writing about the film's brilliance (which has been done many times and in better verse than I can compose), I will simply use Peter O'Toole's performance here to remind everyone what a sham the Oscars are. O'Toole never won an Oscar, yet his legacy is not diminished. Just think of how many Oscar performances will age far less well than this one by O'Toole. I have a theory that Oscars should not be awarded until about forty years after a film is released. This year's show would have been immensely more enjoyable had it honored the films of 1974.  And if some of last year's films were deserving of recognition, they would earn it in 2054. 

"Jaws" (1975) - Directed by Steven Spielberg

Maybe the perfect summer movie. It ushered in the era of the summer Hollywood blockbuster as a device to encourage people to escape the summer heat within nice air-conditioned theatres. Jaws, more than other summer blockbusters, actively encouraged people to flee the sunny beaches for the safety of the film house. In Jaws, the delicious, but fleeting, New England summer season acts as the economic motive to first risk beach-goers lives and then hunt down the famous great white. The shark imperils the summer tourist season, and this film shifted the economy of summertime film viewing.

"Do the Right Thing" (1989) - Directed by Spike Lee 

The record setting heat and humidity in Spike Lee's brilliant film act in much the same way that they do in 12 Angry Men.  The summer heat makes blood boil and temperatures rise. While obviously not the cause of either the racial tension or the ensuing violence, the heat serves as a way for the film to better communicate such themes. The tension, frustration, anger, and inequality cannot be escaped, just as one cannot escape the heat. In 12 Angry Men, the heat is both literally and figuratively turned down. To its everlasting credit, Do the Right Thing, shows what happens when the boiling point is reached such heat cannot be mitigated. (Finally, if more evidence of the uselessness of the Oscars is needed, look up the films that were nominated, and the film that won, the year that Do the Right Thing was eligible.)

"Little Children" (2006) - Directed by Todd Field

I actually see this film as a sort of companion to Jaws. Both are set in New England, and both ironically rely on a warmly inviting New England summer. In Jaws the sun invites us to the beach only to be shocked by lurking monster. In Little Children, summer invites us to the chlorinated public swimming pools and grassy rest areas only to be frightened by the presence of a sex offender. Jackie Earle Haley's scene at the swimming pool, in which everyone vacates, afraid of this "monster," seems like a direct response to Jaws. Yet Haley's presence is not the only threat, or event the biggest one.  Rather the larger danger in this seemingly sunny suburban utopia is the dysfunction of marriage and relationships. The swimming pool acts as the site where the infidelity of Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson can fester. (Indeed, many things that are  unpleasant can fester in a public swimming pool.) Todd Field does a wonderful job of rendering all the scenes visually pleasing. The interior scenes are as lush and well lit as the exterior scenes.  Yet all the while, this sunny appearance hides darker secrets.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five Film Favorites: Rock 'n' Roll

The Mamas and Papas onstage at Monterey Pop.
Movies and music go together. Like peanut butter and jelly? Perhaps more like Bonnie and Clyde.

Anyway, because moving images and music, in one form or another, compliment one another so nicely and they both rely on timing, we get the two together so often we don't even notice it. Then there are other times we're supposed to notice -- times when the music is at least as important as the picture.

When considering music films for a favorites list there are so many different kinds of musicals and movies about musicians that the category has to be narrowed. Therefore, for this list of five favorites, I’m looking only at rock ‘n’ roll movies, the genre baby boomers like me grew up hearing.

However, over the last five decades, plus, there have been so many movies that used rock ‘n’ roll music to add to the story, or perhaps to fill some gaps, that the category must be narrowed further. Just think of how many movies copied the manner in which George Lucas used oldies in "American Graffiti" (1973). Still, calling that movie a rock 'n' roll flick would be a stretch. 

So, for this list of five, only those films which present the music as concert footage are being considered. All five on my list present the musicians, performing as themselves, on-stage, before a live audience. All are documentaries of concerts of a certain stripe, even if they were staged for the purpose of making the film. Which means that as much as I like "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) I can't put it on this particular list.

Tomorrow I might change my mind, after all it's my list, but today my five favorite 'rock 'n' roll concert films are:

“Gimme Shelter” (1970): Directed by Albert Maysles and David Maysles. Performers: The Rolling Stones, also with Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Tina Turner and more.

“The Last Waltz” (1978): Directed by Martin Scorsese. Performers: The Band and various guest musicians.

“Monterey Pop” (1968): Directed by D.A. Pennebaker. Performers: Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and Papas, Otis Redding, and more.

“Stop Making Sense” (1984): Directed by Jonathan Demme. Performers: Talking Heads.

“The T.A.M.I. Show” (1964): Directed by Steve Binder. Performers: The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Lesley Gore and more.

Sorry, "Woodstock" (1970) didn't make the cut.

Now the reader is free to comment or make their own list, but some strong video evidence of the righteousness of my list really is below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Karen Newton: 'We Need the Bijou'

James Parrish and Terry Rea hamming it up before the screening.
At Karen Newton's blog, I Could Go On and On, she writes about what a good time she had on Sunday night, in spite the somewhat daunting weather conditions. She liked the pre-screening gathering at the Portrait House, she liked the movie at The Byrd -- "Finding Vivian Maier" -- and she liked the after-party at the New York Deli, during which Chez Roué played live. Here's a sample:
...No one will ever convince me that watching a movie at home with stops for bathroom breaks and food runs is anything like a genuine film experience.
Which is exactly why we need the Bijou. I don't want to just read about amazing films, I want them to have a place to play in Richmond where I can watch them with 100 or so of my closest strangers (or people I know, I won't discriminate). 

Because if 900 people come out on a blustery, nearly sub-zero work night to see a documentary about a dead nanny with a Rolleiflex, we are most definitely a film town.
We Bijou-builders, (James and Terry) like what Karen wrote in her piece -- "Picture That." So please click here to read the entire piece. Thanks, Karen.

And, we'd also like to see other reviews covering our fundraising show on a chilly, breezy Feb. 15 evening. The planning for our next show is already underway, so stay tuned.   

-- Photo by Terry Brown.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thanks to Vivian's fans

Sure, some Richmonders had already heard about the eccentric nanny who took a bunch of cool photographs -- a so-called "street photographer" -- and died a few years ago in poverty in Chicago, or somewhere. Yet, as James and I (Terry) went about promoting the Bijou's benefit screening we found that few people could remember her name. After all, during her lifetime, 1926-2009, Vivian Maier did her level best to fly under the radar.

Given those particulars, how could we have gone wrong by booking "Finding Vivian Maier" (2014), a documentary feature about a rather obscure shutterbug? (Remember, we had to pay up front for the film rental.)

Our formula for guaranteeing success? 
  • Select a film made by a couple of cats nobody had heard of. 
  • For our low-budget promotion effort depend completely on posters and shoe leather. 
  • Gamble that we could garner some favorable publicity about the screening from local publishers. 
  • Using Facebook, hope to get film buffs and the local photography community talking about the movie. 
  • While ignoring the fact one could see the same film on cable television, or get the DVD from Netflix, by all means, show it on a breezy, frigid mid-February night. 
Rather than stretch the facetiousness any thinner, the point is James and I had a lot of help and it all added up to a bottom line success -- nearly 1,000 people showed up. So now we'd both like to take time out from congratulating ourselves for whatever we might have done right, whether by plan or accident, and say, "Thank you."

Make that, "THANK YOU!"

Without the help we got from our partners and sponsors for this venture, as well as the local media, it simply would not have happened. Chief among them was Gordon Stettinius, of Candela Books + Gallery, who first suggested "Finding Vivian Maier" to James as a film to consider playing. That happened months ago. Then James and I looked at the DVD of the film and decided to take the plunge.

From James Parrish's comments on Facebook on Feb. 16:
A special thanks to our partners and sponsors -- Candela Books + Gallery, VCUarts Photography and Film, The Byrd Theatre & Foundation, IFC Films, Plan 9 Music, Visual Arts Center of Richmond, New York Deli, Portrait House and Terry Brown Photography.
And thanks to Bygones Vintage Clothing, Ipanema Cafe and Alchemy Coffee (in addition to Candela) for selling advance tickets.
A huge shout out to Roger Carroll, Debo Dabney, Brian Sulser and Johnny Hott of Chez Roué for the perfect nightcap!
Last night's success definitely gives Terry and me more hope and confidence that Richmond wants and will support a small, independent art house cinema, cafe/bar and nonprofit film center dedicated to everything from Hollywood to home movies with detours.
No doubt, when the movie we had picked for our second fundraiser screening received an Academy Award nomination in mid-January it helped draw attention to the title we had already booked some six weeks before. So for whatever part of the Bijou's success on Sunday was pure luck, we're especially grateful to the gods who watch over the show biz risk-takers.

Once again, a roomful of patrons got to feel the difference between watching a movie alone on a small screen and being part of a packed house seeing the images traipse across a movie house screen. After our success with "A Hard Day's Night" (1964) back in September and "Finding Vivian Maier," we have demonstrated the range the Bijou will be comfortable working within. We intend to exhibit old films and new films, big films and small films.

Moreover, the Bijou Film Center will be a friend to movie-lovers of all persuasions. A friend to filmmakers. A friend to other exhibitors. A friend to people who have amateur films they want preserved and transferred to digital. And, a friend to those who'd like to have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, and perhaps a bite to eat, while they discuss their thoughts about this and that, to do with the illusion of moving images.  

Soon we'll be posting some information about our further plans to help make the dream of a Bijou Film Center for Richmond come true. In the meantime, visit our Facebook page for routine daily posts and to see some of the photos from the Feb. 15 event that have been/will be posted.

The details on how to buy a Bijou T-shirt will also be posted soon here at the Backlight, as well as on the Bijou's Facebook page.

Last, but not least, thanks to Vivian and her fans.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Finding Vivian Maier" on WRIR's Open Source

From Don Harrison on WRIR's Open Source:
Today we talk to Terry Rea and James Parrish of the Bijou Film Center about this weekend's benefit screening of the Oscar-nominated "Finding Vivian Maier" at the Byrd Theatre on Sunday, February 15, 2015. Gordon Stettinius of Candela Books + Gallery also joins us to talk about the lasting impact of the late Maier's striking street photography. 
Note: Apologies to all who tried to listen in to WRIR yesterday at 4 p.m. to hear Don Harrison's Open Source interview about "Finding Vivian Maier." There were technical problems and the station aired on old episode, which ironically featured an interview with Terry Rea on the proposal for a baseball stadium in Shockoe Bottom. To listen to the interview about "Finding Vivian Maier" that was supposed to have run yesterday afternoon click here to hear it via SoundCloud.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Finding Vivian

Here's a trailer for the Bijou's screening of "Finding Vivian Maier" (2014) at The Byrd. It presents a little gallery of her photographs and the music of Chez Roué. Here are the event's details:

What: Richmond premiere screening of Academy Award nominee "Finding Vivian Maier" (2014); proceeds to benefit the Bijou Film Center and the Byrd Theatre Foundation.

When: Sun., Feb. 15, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Where: The Byrd Theatre in Carytown.


$7.00 at the box office; Advance tickets for $5.00 available at Bygones Vintage Clothing, Candela Books + Gallery and Ipanema Café through Feb. 14.
Advance tickets available online here. 

After-Party: Chez Roué will perform live on stage at the New York Deli at 9 p.m.; no cover charge.

More information:
  • The full press release with all the details is here
  • News of the showing of a portfolio of Vivian Maier's work before the screening is here
  • The Bijou Film Center's Facebook group page is here.
  • The "Finding Vivian Maier" trailer is here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Richmond Magazine and STYLE Weekly point readers to Feb. 15 screening

Two articles about "Finding Vivian Maier" came out online today.

For Richmond Magazine Harry Kollatz wrote:
Then, you scan some of the prints. You start a blog. You make queries. And what you’ve found is the artistic legacy of one Vivian Maier. She turns out to have been a fantastic street photographer, but something of a hermit, who supported herself as a nanny — an eccentric shutterbug Mary Poppins, though without the cheer and singing and the happy ending. But, there is nonetheless something magical about all those images, how close she was able to get to her subjects and their variety. By now, as some stories do, Vivian has possessed you. You study photography and take it up.
Click here to read The Hat's: "'Finding Vivian Maier' at the Byrd on Sunday."

For STYLE Weekly Brent Baldwin wrote:
She hadn’t paid rental fees on the storage, so her images and audio recordings were auctioned to several buyers. Maloof’s discovery is now the subject of the recent Oscar-nominated documentary, “Finding Vivian Maier,” which will be screened Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Byrd Theatre. The showing is a joint fundraiser for the Byrd and the Bijou Film Center.
Click here to read Baldwin's "Who Was Vivian Maier?" You can also read this piece in the Feb. 11 paper edition of STYLE Weekly.

-- Selfies by Vivian Maier

Monday, February 9, 2015

Vivian's Accumulating Notices

 Another one of Vivian Maier's intriguing selfies.

From the Candela Books + Gallery newsletter for February:
Candela Books + Gallery is pleased to have a portfolio of Vivian Maier’s work on consignment from Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York for a limited time. We will be sharing (from 4:30-6:30) this portfolio of Vivian Maier's work before the movie at a preview reception hosted by The Portrait House directly across the street from the Byrd Theatre. Candela will also share the portfolio by appointment through February 21st.
Click here to read the entire post.

Here's a link to Jerry Williams' timely Tales from the Grips post at The Sifter.

And, here's a link to the Feb. 9 article in The Commonwealth Times.

Thanks for the help in promoting the screening of "Finding Vivian Maier" at The Byrd on Sun., Feb. 15 (7 p.m.). More info here.

Note: Here's the link to a 2013 BBC documentary about Vivian Maier. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lohmann: 'Finding Vivian Maier' at the Byrd

One of many selfies shot by the mysterious 
street photographer Vivian Maier.
Writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch Bill Lohmann provides an overview of the Feb. 15 fundraiser screening of Academy Award-nominee "Finding Vivian Maier" at The Byrd.
“Finding Vivian Maier” is about a woman who worked as a nanny and made thousands of photographs, mostly of strangers, and then kept them hidden from the world until the negatives were acquired at an auction.
Click here to read Lohmann's piece that ran in Thursday's (Feb. 5) Weekender section.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A ‘Gem’ of an Idea

The February issue of Richmond Magazine -- its annual Sourcebook -- has an article (on Page 74) about the Bijou Film Center, which mentions the upcoming event on Feb. 15, featuring a screening of "Finding Vivian Maier" at the Byrd Theatre.
While collaborating on the 40th anniversary of the opening of Richmond’s Biograph Theatre for the James River Film Society in 2012, James Parrish and Terry Rea discussed the idea of bringing a “little cinema” to Richmond. “Little cinema” was an idea that formed in the 1920s, when Hollywood had made everything big — big screens, big theaters, longer films.

Click here to read the article by Stephanie Manley.

Click here for more on the Feb. 15 event, which includes an after-party. 

-- Photo by Sarah Walor

The first Bijou T-shirt

This is a mockup of the T-shirt that will be available (in limited supply) at the Bijou's upcoming screening of "Finding Vivian Maier" at the Byrd Theatre on Feb. 15. White ink on black cotton.

Here are the details for the event:

What: Richmond premiere screening of Academy Award nominee "Finding Vivian Maier" (2014); proceeds to benefit the Bijou Film Center and the Byrd Theatre Foundation.

When: Sun., Feb. 15, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Where: The Byrd Theatre in Carytown.


$7.00 at the box office; Advance tickets for $5.00 available at Bygones Vintage Clothing, Candela Books + Gallery and Ipanema Café through Feb. 14.
Advance tickets available online here. 

After-Party: Chez Roué will perform live on stage at the New York Deli at 9 p.m.; no cover charge.

More information:

The full press release with all the details is here.

The Bijou Film Center's Facebook group page is here.

The "Finding Vivian Maier" trailer is here


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jan. 22 Press Release

Date January 22, 2015
To: All media for immediate release
Re: Richmond premiere of "Finding Vivian Maier" (Academy Award nominee)
From: The Bijou Film Center

“Finding Vivian Maier” (2014) is a movie about a mysterious photographer. From the 83-minute film, directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, viewers learn that Vivian D. Maier was an eccentric nanny, a tall lady who spoke with an odd accent. Stemming from a serendipitous purchase at an auction Maier’s remarkable photographs have become known to the public, but only in the last few years.

When it came to selfies, Vivian Maier wrote the book.

In conjunction with our partners, The Byrd Theatre, Candela Books + Gallery, the VCUarts Department of Photography and Film, the Bijou Film Center will present the Richmond premiere of “Finding Vivian Maier” on Feb. 15, 2015, at 7 p.m., at the Byrd Theatre.

By the way, in the wake of its praise from movie critics, "Finding Vivian Maier" has been nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. It's a documentary that doubles as a mystery movie.

The film poses questions about its subject: Why would anyone take thousands upon thousands of photographs, then hide the images from the scrutiny of others? What was her background? Why would she not even make prints of a good many of them? If the photographer didn’t want to look at the souvenirs of frozen time she had captured, what was the point? Who was Vivian Maier?

Viewers of the film are shown clues. Vivian routinely photographed whatever caught her eye in her travels, mostly people on Chicago streets; it seems a good many of her subjects were strangers. She was quite opinionated. Gradually, we are prompted to suspect there was a dark side to her. Some of the now-adult children she minded as a nanny remember her fondly, others not so much. Regardless of her offbeat nature or her motives, one thing is for sure -- Vivian Maier (1926-2009) had quite a knack for knowing when to snap the shutter.

Now some art/photography critics are seeing Vivian Maier as one of the 20th century's great street photographers. Recently made prints of the scenes she happened upon and documented with her Rolleiflex are hanging in posh galleries. Other critics are resisting the popular culture momentum to lift Vivian's work to such a lofty perch.

Admission: Tickets at the box office will be $7.00. The proceeds from this one-time-only screening will be split between the Byrd Theatre Foundation's "Journey to the Seats" and the Bijou Film Center.

Advance tickets are now available online at Eventbrite for $5.00 (plus processing fee). Between Jan. 23 and Feb. 15, advance tickets can be purchased for $5.00 (cash or check) at Bygones Vintage Clothing, Candela Books + Gallery and Ipanema.

For the after-party at the New York Deli, to begin shortly after 9 p.m., the live music will be provided by Chez Roué. There will be no cover charge for this portion of the evening's entertainment.  

  • James Parrish: Email: Phone: (804) 564-3224.
  • Terry Rea: Email: Phone: (804) 938-7997.

About the Filmmakers and Their Award-Winning Film:

"Finding Vivian Maier" is distributed by IFC Films. It represents the directorial debut for both filmmakers.

Not long before her death, a huge cache of her photos was discovered by John Maloof, who was searching for old photos of a Chicago neighborhood. For $380 Maloof bought the trove in a storage box at an auction. All he knew was that it was chock full of photos, negatives and random junk. He took a chance. Maloof never spoke with Vivian. After her death he began discovering what his acquisition entailed. With its evidence of who the photographer was, it led him to wonder if Vivian was even who she said she was.

Maloof is a filmmaker/photographer/entrepreneur. He now serves as an overseer and marketer, a self-styled curator, of a significant portion of Vivian Maier’s work. He edited the book, "Vivian Maier: Street Photographer."

A former lawyer, Charlie Siskel is a television and film producer with movie credits that include "Bowling for Columbine" (2002), and "Religulous" (2008). He is the nephew of the late Gene Siskel, who was a Chicago-based film critic, best known as Roger Ebert's debating partner. 

Quotes from reviews:
Absorbing, touching and satisfyingly enjoyable. -- New York Times.

A faithful tribute. This fine documentary unveils the "mystery woman." -- The New Yorker.

More connect-the-dots detective thriller than traditional doc, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel’s revelatory riddle of a film unmasks a brilliant photographer who hid in plain sight. -- Entertainment Weekly

Riveting documentary about one of the 20th century’s greatest photographers. It’s no ordinary artist biopic. Haunting. -- Indiewire
More background on the film and filmmakers is available here.

Happy Hour before the screening and raffles:

Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. there will be a pre-screening happy hour at the Portrait House, across Cary Street from The Byrd. The first of several drawings for raffle prizes (tickets $1.00 each) will take place in that time. Later drawings will be held at The Byrd and afterward at the New York Deli.

After the Screening:

Immediately following the screening of "Finding Vivian Maier" there will be a brief discussion about the photographer, her work and the film in the Byrd's auditorium. It will be led by Gordon Stettinius of Candela Books + Gallery. For those who would rather continue that conversation than take in the live music at the New York Deli, the discussion will move across Cary Street to the Portrait House. 

At the New York Deli the live music show will go on between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. The four virtuoso performers in the Chez Roué ensemble are:
  • Roger Carroll on saxophone and vocals
  • Debo Dabney on keyboard
  • Brian Sulser on bass. 
  • Johnny Hott on drums.
For Chez Roué fans it's important to bear in mind that this gig will be Roger Carroll's next-to-last performance in Richmond, before he moves to Chicago.

List of the event's partners and sponsors:

Click on the links to see websites for the Bijou's indispensable partners for this event, as well as the sponsors who have chimed in to help us put it together.
About the Bijou Film Center:

The Bijou Film Center's studio/office is now at 1 E. Broad St. in Richmond's downtown "arts district." That's the neighborhood in which we intend to find a location to establish a nonprofit film center, which will include a 100-to-120-seat movie theater auditorium, a small cafe and a film preservation business that will specialize in doing high-quality transfers of our clients' old Super 8 films and VHS videos to a digital format. We expect to launch that aspect of our endeavors in a few months. The cinema and cafe will take longer.

As we progress we will strive to become a hub for all things to do with film exhibition, film preservation and film production in Richmond. More information about the community that is forming around the Bijou Film Center can be found on the Bijou's Facebook page and its Bijou Backlight blogzine.

A hundred years ago Richmond's first movie theater, The Bijou, was already a fixture in the city's thriving theater district, some seven blocks east of our current digs on Broad Street. Richmond's first Bijou was the brainchild of a former baseball player named Jake Wells, who went on from there to establish a chain of 43 theaters in the Southeast.

The Bijou Film Center's founders:

James T. Parrish, Jr. is a fundraiser, artist and leader in the Richmond arts community. He was founder of the Richmond Flicker (1998-2008) and co-founder of the James River Film Society. He currently serves as the Director of Foundation Relations for Virginia Commonwealth University.

F.T. "Terry" Rea was the original manager of Richmond’s repertory cinema, the Biograph Theatre (1972-83). He was the founder/editor/publisher of SLANT (1985-94), a Fan District-based periodical, devoted to popular culture and politics. He is now a freelance artist/writer.

More Info: and


Friday, January 16, 2015

Chez Roue' signed for Feb. 15 Bijou fundraiser

The Bijou Film Center is delighted to announce that Chez Roue' will play live at the New York Deli (9 p.m. - 11 p.m.) following the screening of Academy Award nominee “Finding Vivian Maier” (2014) at the Byrd Theatre on Sun., Feb. 15.

"Finding Vivian Maier" is being presented in conjunction with our partners for this occasion: The Byrd Theatre Foundation, Candela Books + Gallery and the VCUarts Department of Photography and Film. Showtime for the movie is 7 p.m. Admission at the box office will be $7.00. Advance tickets for $5.00 will be available soon at selected locations. Advance tickets are already available online at Eventbrite for $5.00 (plus $1.27 handling fee).

Please note, there will be no cover charge for the live music at the Deli. In the photo above, left-to-right, Chez Roue' are: Debo Dabney on piano, Roger Carroll on saxophone, Johnny Hott on drums. Brian Sulser (seen only in the mirror) is on bass. For Chez Roue' fans it's important to bear in mind that this gig will be Roger Carroll's next-to-last performance in Richmond, before he moves to Chicago.

We’re still polishing some details, including lining up prizes for the raffles, but the schedule is now set for the Bijou Film Center’s second Bijou at the Byrd fundraising event. As before, film-wise, there will also be a wee surprise.

This is going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned for more information soon.

-- Photo credit: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Friday, January 2, 2015

Feature: "Finding Vivian Maier"

Why would anyone take over a hundred thousand photographs of a wide range of subjects and go to great pains to hide all the images from the world? Why would she not even make prints of thousands of them?

Vivian Dorothea Maier (1926-2009) was an eccentric nanny, a tall lady who spoke with an odd accent. She earned her living taking care of other people’s children. With her Rolleiflex camera Vivian photographed whoever/whatever she found in her travels, mostly on urban streets. It seems a good many of her subjects were strangers. Then, by habit, she kept all those images to herself … along with her other secrets.

Not long before her death, a huge cache of her photos was serendipitously discovered by John Maloof, who was looking for old photos of a Chicago neighborhood. Maloof bought the trove in a storage box at an auction. All he knew was that it was full of photos and negatives. He never spoke with Vivian. After her death he began discovering what his acquisition entailed and who the photographer was.

Since she used various names at times, was Vivian even who she said she was? What was it she was so dedicated to documenting, or was it a random process? Was the sly photographer a spy of some sort? What do the children she looked after remember of Vivian?

Now the world knows who Vivian Maier was … or does it? Nonetheless, prints of the scenes she captured with her Rolleiflex are now hanging in posh galleries.

“Finding Vivian Maier” (2014) is an award-winning documentary that doubles as a mystery movie. It was directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel (see update below).

In conjunction with our two partners, Candela Books + Gallery and the VCUarts Department of Photography and Film, the Bijou Film Center’s upcoming fundraiser -- a one-time-only screening of “Finding Vivian Maier” -- will be presented on Feb. 15, 2015. It will be the Richmond premiere for this fascinating 83-minute documentary. Proceeds from our second Bijou at the Byrd event will again be split between the Byrd Theatre Foundation's Journey to the Seats and the Bijou Film Center.

By the way, when it came to selfies Vivian wrote the book. Happy new year.


Update (Jan. 15): "Finding Vivian Maier" has been nominated for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar. See the film on Feb. 15 at the Byrd. Root for it to win on Feb. 22.

More details will soon follow. 

Photos by Vivian Maier; click on them to enlarge. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bijou at the Byrd Leads to Bijou on Broad

Sept. 21, 2014: The crowd for the first Bijou at the Byrd event, a 50th
anniversary screening of Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night." 
Photo by Todd Schall-Vess..
Having read Terry's account of the Bijou's first big event (Thanks for the Memories) this past Sunday, you know that it was a huge success. Attendance was around 800 people, and any time the Byrd has to open up the balcony you know you've done something right. Thanks to those of you who were there.

While our event was more about raising awareness of the Bijou Film Center than raising money, I won't lie to you -- we needed to raise some money. Terry and I put this event over without two nickels to rub together. No lie. And the only way we were able to do that is because of friends and partners. The Byrd Theatre, led by Todd Schall-Vess, was the first to say yes -- this would not have gone any further if Todd and The Byrd Theatre hadn't wanted in on it. Janus Films, the distributor of A Hard Day's Night and countless other wonderful films (most of you may be familiar with their sister company, The Criterion Collection), was next to sign on. By offering us a great deal on the film because we were doing a fundraiser put us in a position to make some money for both the Bijou and the Byrd. For a run down of sponsors and champions, read Terry's piece linked above.

So, how did we do? Well, after expenses (film rental and publicity materials) we were left with $2,800, split 50-50. That means that you helped us raise $1,400 for The Byrd Theatre Foundation's "Journey to the Seats" campaign and $1,400 to help establish the Bijou Film Center. On top of that, the Plan 9 raffle raised $200 and we received more than $370 in additional donations. All of which leads me to the most exciting news ... as of October 1 there will once again be a Bijou on Broad! (For more on the original Bijou, check out Terry's Short Subject: Jake Wells' Bijou on Broad St.

Rea and Parrish at Anchor Studios.
Photo by Bill Lohmann for the RT-D.
We're using some of the proceeds from Sunday's event to establish the Bijou Film Center's first office at 1 East Broad Street, becoming a member of Anchor Studios, located across Foushee from Tarrant's. We've got a long way to go before we'll have the Bijou Theatre open, but we've achieved our first big goal: to establish the Bijou Film Center in the heart of Richmond's downtown arts and cultural district.

While we're not ready to announce any details yet, we are kicking around several ideas for one or two more film events this fall, working on the Bijou Film Center's logo, website and promotional materials, filing for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, exploring a partnership with a local foundation to serve as our fiscal agent until we become a card carrying member of the nonprofit sector, and preparing to launch our first fundraising campaign, which will center around the purchase of a Super 8 film-to-digital transfer machine to help individuals and artists take care of their precious filmed memories. The heart and soul of the Bijou Film Center will be this important work.

We'll also be looking for a lot more people to help us build out the Bijou Film Center of our dreams, complete with a 100-seat art house cinema, a cafe and film center devoted to wide world of cinema, from home movies to Hollywood and everything in between. Look for more information on how to get involved soon.

Thank you Richmond for showing us on Sunday night that you want there to be a Bijou!

- James Parrish

P.S. Please stop by Anchor Studios during the next First Fridays on Friday, October 3 to say hi and to visit the Bijou's first home at 1 East Broad Street.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

Photo by Sky Andersen for RVA Magazine
Ed. Note: The Bijou Film Center, such as it is, wants to say thank you to the great audience that showed up to see “A Hard Day’s Night” on The Byrd’s big screen last night. That so many people took the time to help us begin the process of building The Bijou, by watching a 50-year-old black and white movie, was very encouraging. In the photo above that's James and me, Terry, in front of The Byrd last week.

The warm reception “A Hard Day’s Night” received confirmed our thinking that today Richmonders will turn out to see good movies, old or new. 

At the top of the Thank-You list we have to cite The Byrd’s Todd Schall-Vess and the Byrd Theatre Foundation for providing that grand movie palace for the screening. Plus, the theater’s staff did a fine job of showing the films and handling the large crowd smoothly. And, naturally, we’re happy to have helped The Byrd’s non-profit foundation raise some money for its restoration campaign, Journey to the Seats.

Several websites picked up the story of the screening and live music show from articles that appeared in STYLE Weekly, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond Magazine, RVA Magazine, etc., and posted the essential information without any prompting from us. WRIR's Open Source devoted a segment to chatter about the project, thanks to Don Harrison.

It all helped. Plan 9 put news of the event on its website and donated Beatles-related prizes that we raffled off. Volunteers (Julia, Wayne, Brian, Lynn and Nathan) helped us with that raffle, selling and taking the tickets. Deep Groove also donated a just-released Beatles album to the cause. On top of the unsung help several other people provided in making the benefit show possible -- then successful -- eight sponsors contributed to the project in significant ways: They were: Anchor Studios, Bygones Vintage Clothing, Janus Films, New York Deli, Portrait House, Steady Sounds, Uptown Color, 97.3 FM WRIR Richmond Independent Radio.

After the movie ended the after-screening live music show unfolded in the New York Deli, two doors west of The Byrd. The Taters put on a splendid show that were well received by a packed house. The range of ages on the dance floor was impressive.

Mark Brown's photo of James singing "Act Naturally"
with The Taters at the Deli.

For James and me it was a lot of fun presenting such quality entertainment to an audience that obviously appreciated it. Soon we’ll have news to share about our next pop-up event. In addition to staging more fundraisers at various venues, our plan is to establish a film restoration/transfer business first; our studio space for this work will be in Anchor Studios at Foushee and Broad. All the while we will be striving to open a small cinema with an adjoining café in that neighborhood -- the Arts District. The intention, as a film center, is to eventually become involved in preserving films, exhibiting films, distributing films, and the production of films.

After several conversations with members of last night’s audience, we now know the feedback we‘re going to get from lots of people, folks who want to be a part of this venture, is going to influence the direction of the Bijou Film Center‘s endeavors from here on.  

What happened at The Byrd and the New York Deli on the last night of 2014’s summer was a good start. With any luck, we'll always remember it. Thanks. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thanks for the Publicity/Help

Ed. Note: The publicity we've received about our September 21st fundraising event has been quite positive and very helpful. Our thanks have to go out to some good folks in the local press, as well our friends on Facebook and otherwise, who've done what they could to help spread the word.

Yesterday a piece penned by Stephanie Manley for Richmond Magazine was posted online. 
Parrish and Rea, who are both deeply involved in the arts community in Richmond, have focused much of their careers on film. (Rea was manager of the Biograph Theatre and Parrish co-founded the James River Film Society).

In addition to constructing their own theater, Parrish and Rea decided that attaching it to a café would create a more successful business. The partners also frequently returned their discussion to their love of film preservation, which led them to add to their business plan a center devoted to transferring small-format amateur films to digital.
To read “Building the Bijou” at Richmond Magazine click here.

Today Sky Andersen’s piece for RVA Magazine was posted online.
On September 21st, the Bijou Film Center, a small up and coming unique theatre group co-founded by F. T. “Terry” Rea and James Parrish, is presenting The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary in July. A Hard Day’s Night is a 1964 comedy starring The Beatles, and was included in Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Movies.
To read “Bijou Film Center hopes to bring thriving film community back to RVA” at RVA Magazine click here.

Later today an interview conducted by Don Harrison for 97.3 FM WRIR can be heard on Open Source at 4 p.m. Click here to listen online.

And, in case you missed last week's articles about the screening of "A Hard Day's Night" at the Byrd Theatre on Sunday, September 21 at 6 p.m., here are links:

To read "Bijoumania" written by Brent Baldwin for STYLE Weekly click here.

To read "Cinema plan taps into downtown’s potential" written by Bill Lohmann for the Richmond Times Dispatch click here.

And, our thanks goes out to Jerry Williams for breaking the story about the Bijou's first event, way back on August 18, by way of his Sifter website devoted to show business.

Don't forget, the Taters are playing live (no cover charge) at the after-screening-party at the New York Deli. To help get the news of that aspect of Sunday's festivities around The Taters' Craig Evans crafted this online poster after the 50-year-old poster for "A Hard Day's Night." 

Finally, we're delighted with what Bygones Vintage Clothing did with its Beatlemania window (thanks Maynee), as shown below in the photo by Jere Kittle.

By the way, you can still buy advance tickets at Bygones and at Steady Sounds until the day of the show. Or you can click on the Buy Bijou Tickets button at the top of this page to buy tickets online. 

The Beatles were big, BIG, I tell ya!

Richmond Times-Dispatch photo (cropped) 
Publisher's Note: Friend and musician Alfred Walker sent us this remembrance after we posted this image of "A Hard Day's Night" on the marquee at The National, August 1964. 

Alfred Walker, age 12
That spring at Glen Lea Elementary - the spring after JFK and Ed Sullivan and the biggest sales pitch I'd ever made (a seven-fold advance on my 25 cent allowance to purchase "Meet the Beatles" at Blair's Drug Store) – no less than four different classes put on Beatles skits for the annual talent revue. The presentations were interchangeable in featuring an offstage teacher dropping a needle on or near a Beatles song - most often "I Saw Her Standing There" - while a quartet of 5th or 6th graders waited to begin their pantomime with brooms for guitars and a few classroom trashcans positioned as drums.

My best friend Billy was in one of the configs. As we were in different classes, he shared with me some of the ongoing angst and backstage drama that went into the making of Mrs. Dodsworth's Beatles. Three of the boys wanted to be Paul. One had been edged out early, and it came down to Billy and Dean, one of the most popular kids at the school. Billy felt his own self looked more like Paul, but he knew Dean carried the cache to win the gig. Keep in mind: we were all 11 and 12 years old, and most every boy had maintained an astronaut crew cut until those Sunday nights in February. So the bangs were just starting to come in, and most of the Glen Lea Beatles were desperately mashing down the front of their coifs, still too short and stiff to point anywhere but up. For that matter, my favorite act in the talent show was four girl Beatles from Miss Simmons' class; they had good energy - and hair! Still, there were hot arguments around who most resembled Paul, the Beatle to whom us boys seemed the most unashamedly attracted.

That summer, Billy and I met the news of an impending Beatles movie with great anticipation - and some caution. There was so much hype and rumor around the band - and no Google for fact checking; you might not believe in a Beatles movie until you could actually read the show times in the Times-Dispatch. Finally in August, we could!

Richmond, Va.- The Capitol Theater- Broad St.
1964- Waiting in line for tickets to "A Hard Day's Night"
Photo from Visual & Vintage Virginia.
I wish I could ask my dear mom about her thinking in taking us to see A Hard Day's Night - not only driving us to the Capitol Theater, but sitting through the movie herself! She was 36 when she had me, which made her an older mom in those days - a classically trained singer, life-long churchgoer, not much for pop culture. But there she was between me and my little sister, who still considers that the other unsolved mystery of that day: why at age 7 she was allowed to attend!

With my mom (and not my dad) handling the transportation, we arrived for the matinee on time. That meant we saw the newsreels, cartoons, and previews before the main feature instead of after. It also allowed our anticipation to build.

Iconic still from "A Hard Day's Night"
I recall lots of clips from the movie as if from the first time viewing - that's probably a trick of the mind. But I have clear ear, eye, and body memories of that first chord striking, the Beatles running down a narrow street and right at us, and Billy and me turning toward each other and - though we were no longer little boys - clasping our hands to our chests and giggling with glee. We were several days into the film's Richmond run and perhaps not among the first tier of rabid fans. There was some good-natured girl-screaming in the opening chase scene, then everyone settled in and enjoyed the movie. As my sister points out: with A Hard Day’s Night, we were catching a big lead on the whole music video thing.

After an intimate hour and a half with the Beatles, I thought Billy looked even less like Paul. But I was headed for 7th grade at a new school with new classmates – a hard year’s fall, you might say. Sharing the Beatles movie with my best friend was a cool way to close out the summer.

Alfred Walker (on sax), age 14