Empty SeatsDo you
remember where you first saw the movies you love?

I do. A
great many of them were projected in the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. It’s
a little one-screen theatre, and not the most comfortable joint on Earth. But
when I first explored Cambridge in 1990 after leaving a town inhabited only by
multiplexes, I was astounded to find this place tucked in a corner near an
Arabic cafe, running Raiders of the Lost Ark.

That was
the beginning of a love affair. In the early ’90s I saw a full run of classic
Jackie Chan flicks with a packed house laughing and shouting at the screen. I
was terrified by The Tenant and Don’t Look Now. Later I’d catch Donnie
in its miniscule original run, mostly because one of the owners
told me how cool it was and that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I came out for
the last show. I wasn’t. There was the discovery of Miike with Audition
and Happiness of the Katakuris; that time they ran Prospero’s
and I watched half the audience walk out in disgust; and the
sneak preview of Mulholland Drive that I ecstatically watched on my 29th
birthday in a row full of friends.

These are
great memories. They’re tied not only to wonderful cinema and loving people,
but a very unique place. They’re of trading comics and reading books while
waiting in line in the bloody cold dead of winter; of eagerly showing up on the
last Friday of the current schedule to grab the new calendar, knowing there
would be something unpredictable and exciting within.

And now
the Brattle is facing the doom met by so many independent theatres across the
country. If the non-profit Brattle Film Foundation doesn’t raise enough money
by the end of the year, more than fifty years of great movies will be capped by
the dull thud of a closing door.

How dire
is this situation? Very, as I’ll let Brattle creative honcho Ned Hinkle

The Phase One goal is to raise $400,000 by the end of 2005; the
Phase Two goal is to raise another $100,000 by the end of 2006. If BFF is
not successful at meeting the goals set by Phase One of the campaign, BFF will
be forced to cease operations at the Brattle Theatre, effectively ending the
52-year legacy of repertory film programming at the Brattle.

That’s a
lot of money, but it can be done.

This is a
difficult time. Many people reading this have already been extraordinarily
generous to the Red Cross and other hurricane relief efforts. Even buying gas
hurts. But everything helps, and if you’re reading CHUD then you probably care
about film as much as the Brattle does.

Think of
it this way: if you love cinema that doesn’t fit a mainstream mold, houses like
the Brattle are part of the tenuous distribution chain that keeps interesting
movies flowing. Every broken link decreases the chance to see future classics.

help out if you can.

the full fundraising details here!

Make a Donation!

Or, if
you’re in the area, drop in. Leave the NetFlix discs for another night and go
catch a film you might never get to see on the screen again. Sit in the dark
with other people who love movies as much as you do. Catch some Garbo on the
screen instead of DVD; see the regional premiere of Miike’s Izo;
or just enjoy a new 35mm print of The Muppet Movie. You’ll be glad you