Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Yo! Thanks for the Memories

The Big Guys at the BIOGRAPH 45 party (Feb. 11, 2017).
My involvement with the Bijou Film Center was bookended by gala events celebrating the 40th and 45th birthdays of Richmond's semi-legendary repertory cinema, the Biograph Theatre (1972-87). At both gatherings those on hand shared in the Biograph's long-admired "have a good time" spirit.

As it was for those two happy occasions, again it was a pleasure working with James Parrish on The Bijou's four special screenings at the Byrd Theatre with after-parties at the New York Deli. Likewise, the two live music events at Hardywood, the second of which included the culmination of The Bijou's initial membership drive. It was an effort that brought in over 400 members, we billed the celebration as our "Leap of Faith" party.

The Leap of Faith party at Hardywood (Apr. 16, 2016).
Riding the momentum of those six successful shows expectations waxed. However, it wasn't long before some loose ends began to unravel. Consequently, with good intentions aplenty, some costly bad decisions were made that led to what I saw as a blurring of what had been our oft-stated mission.

After two months of shows on weekends at 304 E. Broad St., it was already apparent to me the crowds that had turned out to Bijou Presents happenings at The Byrd and Hardywood were not about to follow us to that location – not soon enough, anyway.

As my enthusiasm for operating that downtown screening room waned, for various reasons, my co-founder's role in the scheme of things faded from The Bijou picture like an iris wipe. Nonetheless, I'm glad I got to present what was a programming encore, of a sort, for me.

To help folks cope with their inauguration day blues, a gem of a film festival was assembled. Four art house workhorses were presented as a pair of double features. The “Facing Fascism:Time Capsules” mini-fest ran over two weekends (Jan. 19-29, 2017). Susan Greenbaum kicked it off with a heartwarming live performance of "This Land Is Your Land" for a handful of attendees. I introduced each of the politically-savvy classics with a little spiel to provide context. Later on, listening to a college student explain to me why "Z" (1969) still seems relevant today was an unexpected reward I appreciated. 

A couple of weeks after the Biograph 45 party's nostalgia flashback (on Feb. 11, 2017), my affiliation with the Bijou experiment expired. The operation of the screening room went on until the volunteer-run Bijou pulled the plug on Broad Street (Sept. 30, 2017).

For those who mean to adapt and carry on with the quest it's back to the drawing board. For me, looking back, it was a lot of fun participating in the design and promotion of those Bijou special events mentioned above.

Dreaming up and executing the "Hamburgers" campaign to promote “Entertainment” (2015) was a highlight for me. Having Chuck Wrenn in on it, the stunt took on a caper feeling that carried me back to my salad days. It was delightful seeing all the old friends that presenting those shows at The Byrd and Hardywood flushed out. Making some new friends along the way was a bonus treat.
One of a series of 'Hamburgers' (2.67' by 4') 
 created in the basement at Anchor 
Studios by a team of artists.
Once again, it appears I have retired from show biz. Thus, this is a good time for me to say thank you to all of The Bijou's volunteers, members and supporters of all stripes. Thanks for helping to create some new fond memories. And, I hope those who have done The Bijou favors, one way or another, feel the same way.

For the upcoming holiday season and the new year, naturally, I wish the Bijou Film Center and its friends good fortune.

– Terry

-- Photos: Big Guys and Hamburger by me. Hardywood by Katey Knox. 

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