Like many independent, smaller theaters, CinemaSalem was facing a crisis when the major studios announced that it would soon eliminate traditional reels of film and start supplying all movies exclusively in a digital format. The daunting expense of converting to digital projection technology may have forced it to close. But a few weeks ago, the theater turned to the community seeking donations. 12 days after it launched its campaign, CinemaSalem met its goal -- and then some.
The reason the theater has so many dedicated fans (in addition to the scrumptious popcorn) is because it shows blockbuster movies, including 3D releases, as well as art house films in a relaxed and comfortable setting that the big chain theaters just can't match. And it is home to one of the nation's best all-documentary film festivals. I know plenty about that as well, since my other son, Jeremy, is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, and had one of his films featured at the festival a couple of years ago. Salem Film Fest 2013, scheduled for March 7 to 14, will present 32 feature-length films. Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance for Q&As and schmoozing. Among the highlights will be the world premieres of the WWII doc, The Ghost Army, and PBS Frontline’s Kind Hearted Woman, about a Native American's struggle to survive abuse. The popular and critically acclaimed film, West of Memphis, will also be shown. It tells the story of three teenagers wrongly convicted for murder and placed on death row in Arkansas. One of them, Damien Echols, now lives in Salem and will attend the screening and participate in a post-film discussion.