FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 14, 2012
Contact: Kanya Lyons | (512) 974-7379
The Austin History Center (AHC) presents The First Picture Shows, a discussion of the history of Austin movie theaters, based on the current exhibit at the AHC. The program takes place in the historic State Theater, now known as Stateside at the Paramount, 713 Congress Ave. on Tuesday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. The theater doors will open to the public at 7 p.m.
The evening begins with a brief virtual tour of Austin’s historic movie houses followed by a moderated panel discussion with 5 people who have strong ties to Austin’s movie house history:
John Bernardoni — owner of the John Bernardoni Production Group and one of the founders of the Paramount Theater for the Performing Arts
Jim Maloy — retired movie projectionist with over 40 years of experience working in various Austin theaters
Jay Podolnick — son of Trans Texas Theaters founders Earl and Lena Podolnick
John Stewart — current projectionist at the Paramount Theater
Steve Wilson — film curator at the Harry Ransom Center and last manager of the Varsity Theater
The panelists will share their stories and insights on the ups and downs of the movie theater business in Austin.
Following the panel discussion, the AHC will screen a short film. In the early days of motion picture exhibition, films were shown at the end of live performances. As a nod to this history, the AHC will show “Austin: The Friendly City,” a 1943 promotional film produced by the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The AHC recently restored this film, and this will be the first indoor theatrical showing since the 1940s. The restored film premiered as part of the AHC’s “5X5Y Fest” in 2011 at Wooldridge Square Park.
The discussion, panel and exhibit are free and open to the public. For more information please call 512-974-7480 or visit www.austinhistorycenter.org.
About the Exhibit
Movies have entertained and enlightened us for over a century. Just as important as the films themselves, the spaces where we experience them has a major impact on how these motion pictures impact our lives. The Austin History Center’s new exhibit, The First Picture Shows: Historic Austin Movie Houses, explores the many film venues throughout Austin’s history, from the first motion picture screening in 1896 to the rise of the multiplexes.
Through hundreds of historic photographs, documents, and architectural drawings, the exhibit showcases the early Nickelodeons and storefront theaters that sprang up along Congress and 6th Streets, the grand movie palaces designed to provide moviegoers a lavish environment, and the dozens of movie houses that cropped up around town to provide ample space for the hundreds of films produced during Hollywood’s golden age. Visitors will also learn the fate of most of these movie houses, the ones that continue on as theaters as well as those that have found new life as drugstores, coffee houses, or comedy clubs. The exhibit will include the AHC’s very own modern “Kinetoscope” to transport visitors back in time to experience motion pictures as they were first made available over 100 years ago.
The exhibit is on display from March 20 until August 19, 2012 at the Austin History Center, 810 Guadalupe St.