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by Charles Parsons and photos by Shane Wynn
The Nightlight: An independent institution devoted to movie lovers
Every year, large Hollywood studios spend bewildering amounts of money to create motion pictures with broad appeal in the hope that audiences will fill multiplexes across the country, returning their investments and creating the kind of profits that allow them to continue making such movies the next year.
But there’s another kind of movie out there: one made primarily by independent filmmakers, often created on shoestring budgets, resistant to the Hollywood system, relying on boldness and brio instead of auxiliary funds and industry formulas. To get attention with hopes of distribution, independent movies often premiere at film festivals as far away as France, Tokyo, and Telluride, and as close as Cleveland’s Tower City. But then, where do they go?
Enter The Nightlight: a new independent movie theater in downtown Akron. The single-screen theater seats 46 people, with additional wheelchair accessibility, and boasts digital projection and state-of-the-art sound. Audiences can get up close and personal with the screen, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Everything is up to industry standard so The Nightlight will be able to bring all sorts of movies straight from the distributors while the films are still playing in other theaters around the world.
The Nightlight is the vision of nonprofit Akron Film+Pixel directors Steve Felix and Rob Lucas, as well as a conscientious board of trustees and consultants. Akron Film+Pixel has been bringing independent movies to the Akron Public Library since 2008. To create The Nightlight, the group applied for and received a grant from the Knight Foundation and raised further support, nearly twice what they asked for, via Kickstarter.
“Adapting an urban space, while protecting the interests of neighboring businesses and different regulatory agencies, has been complex,” Felix says. “To be part of a mix of other destinations in the Historic Arts District is exactly what we were looking for.”
In addition to fresh popcorn and traditional concessions, snacks and pastries will be available from The Blue Door and Cupcake Binge, or audiences can get a beer from one of the growing number of brewers in Northeast Ohio. The Nightlight also will provide opportunities to see cult classics and remastered movies. Lucas promises that there will be evenings geared to niche groups, like the drive-in and midnight movie crowd.
Need another reason to choose The Nightlight over the multiplex? Its organizers have a goal to keep ticket prices reasonably priced at $8.50. Seating is limited so order your tickets via The Nightlight’s website or Fandango, call ahead to the box office or purchase your tickets at The Nightlight prior to screenings. You’ll find a schedule of upcoming movies and showtimes at www.nightlightcinema.com.
Free parking is available after 6 p.m. at meters along North High Street in front of The Nightlight, as well the High Street municipal garage across the street from the Akron Art Museum.
Lucas says people who love movies will love The Nightlight. “I consider this a cinema that will be fueled by people in the community. We need help spreading the word about the quality of our films, the projection, the sound, the food and more,” he says. “It’s also a great way to meet new people, find ways to make your own films and exhibit your own films.”
Support The Nightlight. Not only will it entertain you, it will support you too. There aren’t any promises like that coming out of Hollywood.
/ Writer Charles Parsons lives and writes in the township of Black Horse.