With films on subjects ranging from serious topics such as school shootings to fun romps like a foodie film festival, the mamafilm microcinema is back.
“It’s really cool to finally have a space where we can showcase independent films year round,” said founder Lela Meadow-Conner. “My goal is to utilize it to its fullest.”
Meadow-Conner debuted mamafilm in Revolutsia, the shipping container development at Central and Volutsia, for a six-month run last year.
Now, the theater has moved to the first floor of the Lux at the northwest corner of First and Market. Depending on how fundraising goes for the nonprofit, it may become a permanent space.
Meadow-Conner originally conceived the theater as mother-centric.
“In some ways it still is.”
More broadly, though, she said the aim is to “unite nurturers of all kinds to ignite conversations and to reflect on our shared human experience and the human condition.”
She said it’s about investing in people who are invested in bringing up the next generation.
“How can we make the world a better place through conversation and dialogue?”
Most screenings in the 30-seat theater will include discussions afterward.
Friday’s film, “It’s Gonna Blow: Gadgets Go Mad,” mines the fantasy and terror of out-of-control objects. It’s in conjunction with artist and filmmaker Zoe Beloff’s multimedia installation at the Ulrich. She has curated a film series to go with the installation, and this installment will be shown at 6 p.m. at mamafilm.
“I’m really excited that this space really lends itself well to community collaboration,” Meadow-Conner said.
She said she wants to help nonprofits and others “with their messaging and their platforms” by providing “a venue to showcase films to their audiences.”
Other partnerships coming up include ones with the Wichita Riverfest; Harvester Arts, with a screenwriting lab for women with children; and the Wichita Wind Surge, with a screening at the baseball team’s new stadium. In addition, Meadow-Conner hopes mamafilm can be part of the Tallgrass Film Festival where she used to be executive director.
The official first film in the mamafilm series is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12
“After Parkland” looks at the lives students in Parkland, Fla., after a school shooting there.
At Revolutsia, mamafilm showed 35 films in six months.
Meadow-Conner plans more films this time throughout the year.
The nonprofit relies on sponsorships and grants.
“We really rely on that nonprofit status to . . . allow us to bring films to Wichita audiences,” Meadow-Conner said.
She said mamafilm operates more like an arthouse cinema in that it works with distributors on what films are available at any given time, unlike a film series or festival that can be planned further in advance.
In addition to showing more films, Meadow-Conner plans two or three screenings of each film.
She said it’s all about providing a platform for independent storytellers and then making those films accessible and affordable.
Films are $10 for general admission screenings, and attendees can bring their own food and drinks, including alcohol.
There’s also a membership program with perks offered by local women-owned businesses, which Meadow-Conner said is another way people can help sustain mamafilm.
There will be a similar setup and a lot of the same fixtures that mamafilm had in its old space, but there will be a bigger screen. Meadow-Conner said she’s particularly excited about that and about the sound that McClelland Sound will provide.
Meadow-Conner said the new space looks more like a theater. Eventually, she said, there will be a second ultra microcinema space that’s even more intimate.
“I’m really excited about the location of downtown,” Meadow-Conner said.
She said it’s easy for people all over to reach, and, “The parking is very easy.”
There’s street parking at meters, but most films will be on weekends and in the evenings when parking is free.
Meadow-Conner is already planning an August film festival about food, which will have culinary accompaniments.
“Films that feature food as a leading character, if you will.”
Meadow-Conner describes herself as a foodie who went to culinary school. She and Eric Moore, one of the Tallgrass founders who now is at the American Film Institute, are putting on the festival together.
“He and I have always wanted to do a food film festival.”
Meadow-Conner said all of the mamafilms are about bringing something different to Wichita.
“We don’t get those films that come to a chain movie theater.”
She said she wants to make sure the collective moviegoing experience sticks around, in part to create opportunities for connection.
It’s “the idea of cinema culture and keeping that alive.”