Last night, something happened that might have long-suffering Boulder art-film lovers rocking in their plush seats with joy: The bright, shiny Boedecker Theater at the Dairy center for the Arts opened to the public for its first state-of-the-art digital screening, featuring the 50th-anniversary restored version of Jean-Luc Godard's classic Breathless, starring hunky Jean Paul Belmondo and sexy Jean Seberg as a thief on the lam with a pretty gamine.
Breathless plays at the Boedecker through Sunday, in repertory with the 2011 Oscar-Nominated Short Films - Live Action, which ends Saturday. After that, all-digital programming will include both recent art films and live broadcasts of major opera and ballet performances downloaded directly to the theater by the national specialty film network Emerging Pictures. And the seats are quite plush, promises Dairy Center director Rich Harris. "We have sixty extra-comfy seats, each with four feet of leg room," he gloats.
"It was a gleam in our eye just eighteen months ago," Harris says of the new theater, which was funded largely by donations, including a major one by the Boedecker Foundation. Fitted with hi-tech projection and audio systems (in order to compete, Harris notes, with the high quality home video equipment now available), the venue is programmed largely by sentient committee rather than by a single curator. "They're all local cinephiles -- the people who live and breathe movies," Harris says. And the Boedecker also boasts a liquor license, which allows moviegoers the opportunity to buy wine and beer at the concession stand. What more could you want? Well, there is 35mm celluloid film. Analog is one thing you won't get at the Boedecker, though it's readily available at CU-Boulder's long-standing International Film Series, overseen by the self-proclaimed "tyrant and dictator" of the IFS, curator and film purist Pablo Kjolseth. And for that reason, Pablo is on board with the Boedecker as a competitor -- or more realistically, a partner in crime in a town where art houses have become almost non-existent after a heyday when the Regency and the Art Cinema went head-to-head with IFS.
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The two theaters' differences most likely will work to their benefit, Pablo says. "This can only help," he adds. "I grew up in Boulder when there were tons of art house theaters, and I loved it. It created a real culture for it, and it also helped to make me really crazy about films. I hope this will stimulate that kind of culture again. The cool thing about variety is that everyone can brag about what is their strength. For them, it's a great sound system."
And Pablo will be there, too, when he can. "The sound is amazing! I want to see some stuff I can't get on 35mm, so, yeah, I'll go in and enjoy some of these things. Honestly, the more the merrier. I like seeing film thrive, even if it's in a different format."
The Dairy Center is at 2590 Walnut Street in Boulder; for a complete schedule of upcoming films and events at the Boedecker Theater, visit the website. And visit the IFS website, too, especially if you hanker for a celluloid something that's a little less mainstream. Let the games begin.