Hankering for your summer movie fix but tired of big budget busts? Texas Public Radio’s 14th-annual Cinema Tuesdays series is where you can catch movies that span an 80-year history of film, including Spielberg’s classic, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,“ as well as recent Oscar-nominated short films. Screenings happen every Tuesday evening in July at the Santikos Bijou Cinema Bistro.
The idea for Cinema Tuesdays originated when TPR’s Director of Marketing and Community Engagement and resident cinephile Nathan Cone, along with a former colleague, recognized a lack of classic and independent film screenings in San Antonio.
“The first full year we did it was back in 2001, when there was no arthouse theater in San Antonio at the time,” Cone said. “So we thought maybe we could start a film series and fill some of that gap in the summertime by offering some independent movies, some classic, foreign, and Hollywood movies, and some short films on the big screen. It was a big hit.”
Cinema Tuesdays has been running every year since and classic film titles have become the driving attraction. Cone curates the film schedule.
“It’s a natural extension of what I do on the radio,” he said, “because when you’re a DJ or putting together a news segment, you’re eager to share something with an audience, and that’s the same thing we’re doing here with Cinema Tuesdays. I’m really eager to see these movies with the audience and when people come up to me afterwards and talk about it; that’s what really makes it special for me.”
The philosophy behind Cinema Tuesdays is to “show great films, give people a good experience and a great reason to come together while supporting TPR at the same time,” Cone said.
“What continues to draw me to Cinema Tuesdays is the opportunity to see films I always wanted to see on the big screen and learn more about the films from Nathan Cone,” stated local librarian Julia Selwyn in an email. “Although I am a Stanley Kubrick fan, I never knew that Barry Lyndon was filmed mostly by candlelight and that a special camera was developed. Whether the film is full of light or tragedy – or sometimes both – it’s always a pleasure to share films on Cinema Tuesdays.”
Cinema Tuesdays was first hosted at AMC Huebner Oaks in one of the smaller theaters. As the event became more popular, it moved to a larger, 400-seat theater, and eventually moved to the Santikos Bijou, which Arlene Gauthier, a long-time volunteer and long-time friend of Cone’s, believes is a much better fit.
“The Bijou lets us do things like give cakes out to guests during the recent screening of ‘Wizard of Oz,’ ” Gauthier said.
Before the Alamo Drafthouse, the Bijou was one of the first theaters in San Antonio to screen independent films while also offering patrons food and drink options.
Cone often pairs movies with special-themed touches. They’ll play music before a film begins or offer special food pairings such as Cone’s most memorable—decapitated horse head cookies for The Godfather or pea soup for The Exorcist. Guests at the upcoming screening of “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” can expect Reeses Pieces.
Tuesday, July 1 featured 1957’s “12 Angry Men,” the classic behind-closed-doors look at the American legal system, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Henry Fonda. Following the movie there was a bonus screening of the 2014 Oscar-winning documentary short “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” about 109-year-old Alice Herz Sommer, who was, at the time of filming, the world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor.
Noelia Cantu, a San Antonio native who moved home after living in Houston, was listening to TPR at work when she heard about Cinema Tuesdays and decided to bring her boyfriend and his parents to the screening of “12 Angry Men.”
“I’d seen the movie before and knew it was a classic so I thought this was a great chance to share it,” she said.
The crowd at “12 Angry Men” was slightly older and eclectic, as compared to the younger audience of kids and families who attended the recent screening of “Wizard of Oz.” It was clear that many of the audience members were familiar with “12 Angry Men” and perhaps considered it an old favorite; everyone laughed and scoffed at the characters together.
“Every movie brings a different crowd.” says Cone. “A few years ago when we showed ‘A Clockwork Orange’ there were a bunch of tattooed, bushy-haired people, which is not typically the Texas Public Radio crowd. But it’s nice that each film helps to grow our audience.”
Each summer TPR offers season passes for Cinema Tuesdays. “We have about 70 people who take advantage of that and want to be here every week to see each movie.” says Cone.
Jay Brown and his wife Ann have been attending Cinema Tuesdays for more than 10 years. His fondest memory is, “driving my in-laws in from Floresville and ‘getting’ to sit on the front row for ‘Dr. Strangelove’ then watching my father-in-law laugh as he looked straight up at Slim Pickens riding the bomb down!” Brown also loves the Bijou. “Wine, chocolate cake, pizza and great movies. How can you beat it?”
There is a definite sense of community at Cinema Tuesdays.
“Movies come alive when you see them as part of a larger audience,” Cone says. “Jokes are funnier when there are friends laughing along, heartfelt moments are more touching … it’s just a better experience overall. People who attend our screenings frequently say how much they’ve enjoyed seeing a movie on the big screen, rather than just on television.”
It is highly recommended that you reserve your seats for Cinema Tuesdays in advance, as many of the screenings sell out.
“Most of the time we fill up two theaters at the Bijou,” Gauthier said.
She is anticipating the most popular screenings will fill up quickly, such as next week’s Oscar Shorts and “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” which will screen at the end of July.
Admission for Cinema Tuesdays is not much more than an average movie ticket—a donation of $10 is suggested for Texas Public Radio members or $15 for non-members — and proceeds from Cinema Tuesdays benefit Texas Public Radio.
JULY 2014 CINEMA TUESDAYS SCHEDULE
July 8: 2014 Oscar Shorts, showtime is 7:30 p.m.
The TPR Cinema Tuesday series continues an annual tradition of screening Oscar-nominated short films. This year, all ten of the nominated short films are included on the program, including “Helium,” the 2013 Best Live Action Short Film winner, and “Mr Hublot,” the 2013 Best Animated Short Film winner.
Animated shorts: approx. 70 minutes, may not be suitable for children
Live-action shorts: approx. 110 minutes, may not be suitable for children
July 15: “Network” (1976), showtime is 7:30 p.m.
In 1976, Network was satire. Now, Paddy Chayefsky’s script seems eerily prescient in a world full of reality shows, infotainment, and opinionated “news,” willing to do anything for another ratings point. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film won four Oscars, one for the screenplay and three for acting. 121 minutes, rated R.
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Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay: Paddy Chayefsky
Cast includes Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall
July 22: “The Thin Man” (1934), Showtimes are 6:45 and 8:45 p.m.
William Powell and Myrna Loy star as Nick and Nora Charles, a retired detective and his fun-loving wife. The Thin Man is celebrated for its wit, charm, and for setting the bar for playful spousal banter and for the ease with which Powell plays Nick. The film will be shown in 35mm. 91 minutes, not rated.
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Screenplay: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, from the novel by Dashiell Hammett
Cast includes William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan
July 29: “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), showtime is 7:30 p.m.
E.T. the Extra Terrestrial is the story of Elliott, a boy who befriends a stranded alien. It won four Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture in the Drama category and Best Score. 115 minutes, rated PG.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Cast includes Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
*Featured top image: TPR Cinema Tuesday patrons exit the Santikos Bijou Cinema Bistro at 4522 Fredericksburg Rd. Photo by Taylor Browning.