Films and First Times
Update: The Alamo Drafthouse treats two visiting filmmakers to their firstmovie-going experience
On October 26, the Alamo Drafthouse welcomed Gazan filmmakers, identical twin brothers "Tarzan" and "Arab," to the downtown Alamo Ritz location to experience their first ever official movie screening in a theater.
Read that again: The brothers are makers of film but they have never seen a movie in a theater.
The brothers, whose real names are Ahmed and Mohammed Abu Nasser, are undeterred by the lack of cinema outlets in the Gaza Strip where they were born and raised. Both are trained artists in their own regard, and the two brothers created a short movie called "Colourful Journey" that depicts political unrest and infighting in their country.
The short film went on to win first prize at a film festival in the West Bank city of Ramallah and was show again at the Mosaic Rooms in London along with some of their extensive poster art. A review in The Guardian prompted the attention of Drafthouse founder Tim League, and the goal of providing these budding filmmakers with their first movie-going experience was set.
Can you remember your first experience going to a movie theater?
The first memory I have is sitting in the front row of a theater in the middle of the day watching Disney's The Great Mouse Detective. I couldn't tell you anything about the plot of the movie, but I can recall in vivid detail what the movie-going experience was like from the way the seats felt (springy and giant) to the temperature of the theater (freezing and humid).
Ever since then, the movie-going experience has been a staple in my day-to-day life, and I've taken the opportunity entirely for granted. I never stopped to think about what a privilege this entertainment option is for us. That's what makes this recent invitation to the two Arab filmmakers such a phenomenological mind warp.
On the one hand, the screening experience with Tarzan and Arab was awesome. Getting to see someone—anyone, no matter what age or background—experience their first time in a movie theater is a unique type of thrill. (Total disclosure: I sometimes like to watch the audience enjoying a movie as much as I like watching the movie itself.) So watching two adults that understood the process was an especially cool opportunity.
The film the brothers chose to be their first screened in a theater was Ingmar Bergman's sibling drama Cries and Whispers. A respectable choice. I'm just happy it wasn't Human Centipede II.
The video (at top) the Alamo made to capture the experience is the perfect way to reflect upon the privilege we have of experiencing movies, an opportunity that we too often take for granted.
Tarzan and Arab are now working on their first feature-length film. If you feel inspired by their story of determination and triumph, you can help them complete the next step on their journey with your donation to their Kickstarter page. This project is a joint effort between League and fellow Fantastic Fest co-founder, Harry Knowles.