The latest artistic endeavor to pack up and move to Portland is the Louisville Film Society, which will soon occupy a 32,000-square foot building on Lytle Street (at 15th Street) in the historic neighborhood’s warehouse district.
After renovations, the building will house four screening rooms, as well as classrooms and film production space. The organization hopes to have the new facilities open by September
“We’re going to focus on first-run independent films and documentaries, international films, and blockbusters that feature Kentuckians, which is most blockbusters, actually,” says Film Society president and co-founder George Parker, Jr.
Parker says the seven-year-old nonprofit organization outgrew its former East Market Street building, the Dreamland Film Center, which became experimental music and art venue Dreamland last month.
“We wanted to make sure our investment had the largest social impact it could,” says Parker. “We felt that since Louisville didn’t have a theater west of Ninth Street, this would create the best value and solve a problem for the city by eliminating that void that’s there right now for the surrounding neighborhood and neighbors.”
The four micro-theaters will be on the small size – think boutique screenings with bar service and gourmet concessions – that can also serve as corporate event space during the day.
“It’s a different viewing experience than other theaters in town, and I think it’s going to be something the Portland neighborhood and its surrounding neighbors will be proud of having,” he says.
The second floor of the building will house permanent production space for local and out-of-town film crews to work and to connect with Louisville’s technical and artistic talent, as well as a co-working space for the neighborhood’s burgeoning creative entrepreneurs.
Parker says that while the Louisville Film Society has always focused on helping small, hard-to-find and quirky films find an audience, professional development for Louisville’s film industry has also been part of the plan. Parker is co-owner of ParkerLane Productions, and he produced the documentary “Raising Ms. President,” which makes its Louisville premiere tonight.
“We’re trying to build an entertainment industry here. We feel strongly that a lot more productions could come here.” he says. “I wanted to shift the direction back to have the Film Society play a role in not only creating great content like we’ve done in the past with films, but also focus on economic development and really work on trying to create more opportunities for those who currently work in the entertainment and media space.”
Parker points out that the building is “ten blocks from our doorstep to the front steps of the Kentucky Center,” and that proximity should help the film society as it works to integrate its annual flagship program, the Flyover Film Festival, into the annual IdeaFestival, which is headquartered at the Kentucky Center. The two organizations are still in talks about the formal affiliation, but Parker says it’s an important step for the film festival.
“IdeaFestival is a really unique, amazing festival. We’re really fortunate in Louisville and Kentucky to have it,” he says. “I think it’s going to allow us to create a more robust and full experience for those who come in.”