- The premier of Henry Hampton’s groundbreaking six hour documentary history of the Civil Rights Movement EYES ON THE PRIZE at The Film Forum in New York, 1987: I’ve never sat under a projection beam in a dark theater so moved by heroism and acts of kindness during a time of war (for racial freedom). My greatest celluloid watching experience.
- My friends Claire and Ellen Heeke called me one evening in 1996 to meet at The Westhampton to see a French film I never heard of, Jacques Doillon’s PONETTE. Without expectation, this movie blew me away. Afterwards, on a clear summer night, the three of us lay atop my car in the parking lot for what seemed like hours gazing at the stars and going over all the emotions this film put us through.
- In the late 1980s, my company had me working simultaneously in London and New York. I struggled with jet lag flying into NY; one night, I got in at 10 pm, cabbed it home, then walked two blocks to The Angelika to see a midnight showing of Woody Allen’s CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Wide awake afterwards, I wandered the streets of lower Manhattan until sunrise. I poured over questions of the human condition America’s greatest filmmaker planted in my psyche. I could not stop thinking about this movie.
- Many of my best VCU buddies relocated to the Bay Area. I had never heard of Jacques Tati in 1979 when we all went to The UC Theater in Berkeley to see PLAYTIME. It took me a few minutes to adjust to Tati’s inimitable style, but I was swept away and never laughed so hard. We sat up all night discussing this movie – sound familiar? It was an awakening.
- In 1974, Terry Rea let my friend Katherine Paulson and me into the Biograph for free to see Martin Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS. We decided over beers at The Village afterward that American cinema had officially changed. We alerted everyone we met at The Village to get thee to The Biograph!
Life can be cold; we get caught up in self-absorption; bureaucracy can be dehumanizing. To spend a few hours bathing in the warm light of a projector can reconnect me. I never got spiritual nourishment in a synagogue. The movie theater is my place of worship.
Ted Salins is a relatively unsuccessful filmmaker and screenwriter who teaches same at Randolph Macon College and John Tyler Community College. Some of his short films are available on YouTube.