Eye on KELOLAND: Raising the curtain for local films

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After closing its doors in 1990, the nearly century-old State Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls reopened last December.

The theatre is offering first run movies and a long list of classics, ranging from Casablanca to The Sandlot, but is also willing to showcase local filmmakers.

The State Theatre started its initial run in 1926 and was a staple of downtown Sioux Falls for more than 60 years. The theatre closed in 1990, but after decades of fundraising and renovating, the venue reopened last December.

“People are coming in with their families, telling old stories, old memories, it’s just so great to see the faces when they walk into the theatre after nearly 30 years,” State Theatre Executive Director Allison Weiland said.

On many weekends, you’re stepping into history, as the State Theatre offers patrons the chance to experience classic movies like Casablanca in a whole new way.

“It’s funny, a lot of the times they’ve never seen them on the big screen or they only saw what was on tv with commercials or stuff cut out. Seeing it in a theatre with other people in this dark space it’s just a really cool thing for people to experience,” Weiland said.

The historic theatre is also showing the works of local filmmakers.

“Doing these local films, the people that they bring in, it’s so fun to see them interact and get excited and learn a little bit about Sioux Falls history or see the talent that we have just in our area,” Weiland said.

“My biggest concern was making sure that my film was doing justice to the screen that it was playing on,” Local filmmaker Brian Bieber said.

Brian Bieber is a writer by trade working in advertising, but a few years ago he started dabbling in filmmaking.

“I taught myself as I went and asked a lot of questions from people who knew better than me and that’s how I did it,” Bieber said.

He recently put together a documentary on the late 80’s, early 90’s punk music scene in Sioux Falls. The film “I Really Get Into It” made its premier at the State Theatre.

“Many of the people on the screen were my friends when we were teenagers so a lot of it is about our teenage years and it felt like a reunion. A lot of those people came to town for the screening,” Bieber said.

“There’s been a lot of buzz about his movie and I just thought it was so cool that he was able to come here and he got on stage and did a Q&A and got to talk about the creation of the film,” Weiland said.

Following a few more festivals, Bieber will move on to his next project with one goal in mind.

“Just trying to get better. It’s like anything with art, you want to make sure that the next thing is better than the last, so that’s the hope,” Bieber said.

A film that could earn him more screen time at the State Theatre.

“Making a movie is not easy, it’s a lot of work and so being able to share it with other people is a truly cool experience,” Weiland said.

The lower level of the State Theatre is in pristine condition but fundraising efforts have never stopped as the ultimate goal is to renovate the entire space, including the balcony.

“It was a huge milestone for us to open the main floor of the theatre, but our work is not done. We have the balcony, the second floor,” Weiland said. {5:04:22} “On the third floor there was an old manager’s apartment and we’d love to convert that space into a micro-cinema and to have a flexible meeting space,” Weiland added.

It’s simply going to take time and patience.

“We know what we want, but it’s just a matter of making sure we have all the funds necessary to complete a project in its entirety. When you start working on a historic building you really want to make sure that you can do it right,” Weiland said.

Weiland says the State Theatre is just getting started.

“Education programs, being able to expand, showing more movies on a weekly basis, really building the community that we have formed here and I think the possibilities are really endless,” Weiland said.

Click HERE for movies, showtimes, and ticket information at the State Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls.

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