Saturday, October 22, 2005

10.22.05: Northeast Tour: The Manlius Cinema

I grew up in a very small town. It only has two traffic lights. I never really realized how small it was until after I had been away in big cities for a few years, and I returned to the shocking truth that even the word “town” is an overstatement. I grew up in a village.

It made tonight’s “homecoming” screening all the more fun, since all sorts of characters from said village and the surrounding ones came out of the woodwork. The 50-or-so-person crowd held some of my parents’ friends and some of my friends’ parents and some of my favorite high school teachers and some fellow F-M high school alums who I haven’t seen in ten years. It was almost as if a man with a boming voice was going to emerge from behind the movie screen and announce, “Liz Nord! THIS is your life!”
(Home Sweet Home)

Screening at the Manlius Art Cinema (one of only 2 art houses in the entire Central NY region) was a worlds-collide experience in and of itself, as I had spent so much time there growing up. I mentioned in my introduction to the crowd that I still remembered going to see one of the Star Wars movies there when I was a little kid, and thinking that we were actually entering a ship because of the cinema’s signature round windows. Later, my first high school boyfriend worked there and, true to the nature of my small town, his mother was in the audience last night.

The screening was a bit problematic because (I discovered two days before the screening), the cinema was not equipped to screen video. Yikes! The longtime cinema owner, Nat Tobin, saved the day by scrounging one up from a friend, but since the sound system was prepped for film and not video, there was a slight echo on all of the dialogue. Fortunately, the older crowd all just assumed that they were losing their hearing and didn’t hold the movie accountable, but I hated the fact that they had to experience a sub-par viewing. If there is one thing I’ve learned from touring, it’s that there is no perfect screening. Every venue or crowd or town has its issue, and so it’s all a good exercise in the tao for me. (OMG, I am SO California!)
(An art student at my old high school)

One highlight of the day was visiting the art wing of my old high school and speaking to some students. After getting over the shock that it has really been ten years, I truly enjoyed catching up with my favorite teacher, Mr. Niedzwiecki, and some of the other great F-M educators. (We always called him “Mr. Ned” so I loved meeting his wife at the screening later; she introduced herself as “Mrs. Ned.”)

My two main messages for the kids were:
1) There is life outside of Fayettville, NY.
2) You can have a career in the creative arts.

I was proud to be a living example of those two points that I wanted so desperately to believe when I was in their shoes ten years ago.

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