Hidden in plain sight just steps away from the Fairfield train station sits the Fairfield Theater Company, a local gem of an arts venue. I became a member, as I’ve done at the Westport Arts Center, the Quick Center, and the Westport Library, because I feel so strongly about supporting creativity and community – each one gives me much in return, more than I donate.
FTC is no exception. The tripartite venue has two performance spaces and an art gallery. They host diverse, high quality musical acts as well as great film series.
One of the things I miss most about Stratford Upon Avon is The Picturehouse, a cinema within walking distance of my flat that showed everything from new releases to documentaries, classics to avant-garde art films. I met Studio Ghibli’s masterpieces there and reacquainted myself with Bergman’s and Hitchcock’s oeuvres. As students, we got deep discounts and frequent freebies. I went so often that the staff, who became friends, called the seat I favored “Diane’s seat.”
So I’m delighted to have a venue close by that screens interesting, evocative films. This week I saw two very different but equally as engaging pictures: Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (2015, John McDermott) and Undocumented (2008, Justin Malone). Electric Church chronicles the larger-than-Woodstock 1970 Atlanta Pop Festival, in the tiny town of Byron, Georgia, focusing its lens on a rare look at the elusive, ephemeral, magical Hendrix. The legendary guitarist, who died two months after the festival, performs his most well known songs, including the iconic rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (on July 4, with fireworks exploding overhead). The festival producers, town residents, and musical luminaries like Stevie Winwood and Paul McCartney provide commentary.
Undocumented documents both the plight of and controversy surrounding those who enter this country illegally. It presents a very balanced view of this very complex and politically and emotionally charged issue. The Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) presented the film, and their representatives and individuals they support provided information prior to, and spoke with the audience after, the show.
On Monday, March 4, I’ll attend as FTC celebrates International Woman’s Day with the free screening of Seeing Is Believing: Women Direct (Joanna Kerns). The film, according to FTC, is “an in-depth investigation into the challenges faced by women film directors.” The party continues on March 11, as they present the Women’s Adventure Film Tour. I will be there, too, to witness women around the world of all ages jump off, into, and around places that filled me with fear and awe just to watch in the trailer.
Although the FTC is not within walking distance, it’s only a 15-minute drive away, with ample parking – and like The Picturehouse, it features a well-stocked bar. I know that it’s tempting, especially on these colder, darker winter nights, to curl up on the couch with Netflix, but I promise it’s worth venturing out to enjoy a show on the big screen in front of a live audience.
Photo courtesy of Diane Lowman