SIOUX FALLS, SD -
From drive-ins to giant theatres, there are many places to take in a movie on the big screen.
But in the 1990s, a movie movement resulted in the rise of independent films, those made without the support and distribution of major motion picture companies.
The silver screen lights up this downtown Sioux Falls nightclub. Cinema Falls was the business venture for Julie Anderson Friesen after two years of putting together independent and foreign film events in the Sioux Falls area.
"Cinema Falls launched in February and it was a real labor of love. It actually launched on February 14. That wasn't planned but that was the date and it's sort of fitting," Anderson Friesen said.
The new idea to showcase more indie films found its way to the Icon Lounge in downtown Sioux Falls. With a home for Cinema Falls, Anderson Friesen has been able to plan 20 different events, bringing movies that would otherwise likely bypass the area. As for the crowd, anyone is welcome.
"There is no secret handshake, membership dues, anything like that. This is just for people who are cinematically adventurous. Another expression I've used is it is for people who want cinematic nourishment. They're not afraid to think while they're watching a film," Anderson Friesen said.
The first film was shown here at Icon back in August and since then the crowd for the events has grown. In fact, this last Sunday, they had to bring out extra chairs for more seating.
"We had ideas of doing something like that, but not to the caliber that Julie has. There is no way we could have done it without her that's for sure," Hong Phrommany, the general manager of Icon Lounge, said.
While Cinema Falls is still relatively new, so is the Icon Lounge. The upscale lounge held its grand opening just last March. Before more than a million dollars worth of work, it was an old warehouse. Now, the general manager of Icon Lounge says his business venture is a perfect fit with Cinema Falls.
"What's great is it's not just bringing a lot of people, but it's bringing a lot of different types of people. Keep in mind that all her movies are geared towards different types of politics and genres. It's something I could never expose different cultures to, so she does that for us," Phrommany said.
"People really want to feel like they're at the hub of something very dynamic and also visually artistic as well as cinematically artistic. Those two elements come together here in a way that just feels right," Anderson Friesen said.
Cinema Falls also allows the filmgoers to have discussions about the films and related topics. Some showings even have special guests to discuss the topics of the film.
"I see this as a place to really understand and be part of a larger film conversation in Sioux Falls. And I think the possibilities are unlimited," Anderson Friesen said.
The next showing at Icon Lounge is later this month on September 23, but Anderson Friesen says with more nights planned after that, the curtain call for Cinema Falls shouldn't happen any time soon.
"This is a city that doesn't always buy tickets ahead of time, so just watching people file in at the last minute and excited, there was a real palpable buzz in the air Sunday night," Anderson Friesen said.
And with a strong showing of people, and on the screen, this partnership of two new Sioux Falls ventures should project well into the future.
The strong support for Cinema Falls has also created a buzz and could eventually lead to more film production in the area.
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