I’m Gray Gordon, Education and Special Programming Coordinator for a/perture, and I have a secret. Apparently I have a long lost sister. And she’s famous. And from the same city as I am? Okay, that’s not true. Well, the long lost sister part. What is true is that Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani are freaking great people who support independent movie-going where it counts—in smaller markets. Los Angeles and New York are movie-going meccas. But what really pushes an indie darling to Oscar glory are the folks who see those films outside of movie havens.
Twitter is an, uh, active place on the internet. But magical things can happen when generous minds decide to reach out and provide Winston-Salem’s public with free screenings of two wonderful indie films. The generous ones in this case were Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, who one night while a/perture staff were attending to art house cinema duties as is expected of them found a tweet at aperture’s account from a a familiar name…
“Hey, your sister just liked our tweet.”
“I don’t have a sister named Emily.”
Yeah, no. I don’t have a sister named Emily. But Emily V. Gordon—the writer and whose life Oscar nominee The Big Sick (2017) is based on—was actually the one who liked our tweet. We’d sold out a screening of Spike Lee’s Blackkklansmen and tweeted about it and they liked it.
And suddenly a ton of excitement entered the room. Like, a ton.
I was upstairs with Kristen and a DM from Emily and Kumail explained that they wanted to buy out two screenings of Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade and Spike Lee’s Blackkklansmen. We were, uh,—well—we were hysterically giggling.
Two screenings. For free to the public. Courtesy of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. That was what they wanted.
That Saturday (we tweeted with them on Thursday), we battened down the movie-loving hatches and readied ourselves for droves of movie-lovers. We were not disappointed.
Saturday was the best kind of chaos I could possibly describe to you. Eighth Grade was first. And we had to turn people away after housing the ones that made the cut in the Chatham Building lobby next door to us. They were balls of energy—each of them eager to express thanks to us, to Emily, Kumail, to Winston. It was kind of amazing. We had tons of UNCSA students, WSSU students, Wake students, married couples, high schoolers, and even old timers interested in seeing the life of a Generation Z middle schooler unfold before them on screen.
The best part? They were so many people who were visiting us for the first time. The excitement of having hometown heroes celebrate and support their (her) hometown art house cinema made waves in our community. We felt it and it was palpable. Blackkklansmen had even more people than the first free showing that evening. But even those who were turned away were excited about the event in the first place. I’ve never been prouder of our staff, of our movie-going community, and of indie cinema.
This was seriously one of the best things that’s happened since we’ve opened. And it really drives us to keep the movie-going community in Winston as excited as they were the night we had Emily and Kumail provide them with free, great cinema. Maybe we’ll do it again sometime.
Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth-grade year.
From visionary filmmaker Spike Lee comes the incredible true story of an American hero. It’s the early 1970s, and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Determined to make a name for himself, Stallworth bravely sets out on a dangerous mission: infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan. The young detective soon recruits a more seasoned colleague, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), into the undercover investigation of a lifetime. Together, they team up to take down the extremist hate group as the organization aims to sanitize its violent rhetoric to appeal to the mainstream. Produced by the team behind the Academy-Award® winning Get Out.