What started as a community effort to create a nonprofit microcinema called mamafilm is turning into a slightly more professional “vibrant art-house theater” with a new home, said creator Lela Meadow-Conner.
“For right now, we’re still in pop-up mode.”
That means after the conclusion of this year’s inaugural season at Revolutsia, mamafilm is moving to the Lux downtown at First and Market for the February to August 2020 season. It’ll be between the Lux’s ballroom and event space. There are actually two cinema spaces, which Meadow-Conner said “is going to be exciting.”
Mamafilm shows films on the nature of nurturing, although as Meadow-Conner pointed out, “We cast a very wide net.”
That means that even a 40th anniversary showing of “Alien” made the cut for the current season, which lead to an interesting discussion after the film on how it fit into the mamafilm genre.
Currently, mamafilm is in a 30-seat lounge setting in three shipping containers.
At the new space, there will be one small cinema with about 50 seats and a second, which Meadow-Conner calls “an ultra micro cinema,” that will have about 20 seats.
The two probably can’t operate simultaneously because they’re separated only by a curtain, but Meadow-Conner said she loves having the option of two different-size spaces.
There will be all-digital projection for higher quality, and there will be more of a set schedule as well.
“We’re excited about being able to reactivate that idea of being able to create a little theater district down there.”
Meadow-Conner also said she likes that the space is closer to west side.
“It’ll be nice to attract audiences from there as well.”
Her idea behind mamafilm is to create a destination for people “who are looking for (these) authentic and tangible human experiences that are based around independent film.”
With the new space, Meadow-Conner said she’ll expand to offer educational events and programming for children, all related to films and storytelling.
“Things like that that really connect with our community.”
She also plans special screenings on topics that complement what’s happening in Wichita, such as a baseball film to celebrate the city’s new team.
For now, Meadow-Conner said she likes that mamafilm is a pop-up experience.
“It really allows you to sort of experience different pockets of the community.”
Bokeh Development, including manager Michael Ramsey, owns Revolutsia and the Lux.
“Mike’s been a great, great partner,” Meadow-Conner said.
She said she couldn’t do mamafilm without Bokeh, LivingSound and Not Dead Yet Vintage.
Meadow-Conner also is taking mamafilm on the road, first to Cleveland this month and again next spring.
While she described mamafilm as her “passion project,” Meadow-Conner’s day job is executive director of the Film Festival Alliance, a nonprofit that supports about 200 member festivals with professional development and networking events.
Through that, she said, she’s met a lot of people who mention “how Wichita supports these entrepreneurial-cultural concepts,” such as a microcinema in shipping containers.
“People are very impressed,” Meadow-Conner said.
“It goes back to that entrepreneurial spirit of Wichita, I think.”