If the fate of the state’s education system, several crucial House of Representatives seats and the selection of a challenger to President Trump wasn’t a compelling enough reason for Californians to get to the polls this week, the good folks at ARRAY are offering an exciting extra incentive – opening the doors to their beautiful Creative Campus in downtown Los Angeles for a day of essential films on March 3rd.
“All of our showings are going to be free, so people can either show their “I Voted” sticker or they can RSVP with us in advance online,” says Mercedes Cooper of the inspired “For the People” series taking place at Ava DuVernay’s nonprofit. “However, #nojudgment – I want to be really clear about that because I don’t want people to think, ‘I don’t want to go, I don’t want to out myself if they’re not registered’ — we will have [voter registration] forms available on site, so even though you’ll miss this round or the primary elections, we still want to keep our eye on November.”
Thankfully, as a result of California instituting early voting this year – if you’re a Golden State resident, your local polling place is already open – you can catch every movie at the Amanda Theater on Super Tuesday, which is good since Cooper has put together a lineup where you wouldn’t want to miss a single screening, though she has ensured there’s something for everyone who may only be able to spend a few hours away from the job on a workday.
After the exhibition arm of ARRAY established itself with an impressive fall lineup that showed extraordinary global consciousness and an emphasis on intersectionality, that experience has been condensed into a galvanizing day of programming, beginning with a double feature of short documentaries from the groundbreaking African-American filmmaker Madeline Anderson (noon), a peek into a dystopian future with Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men” (2 pm), the eternally vital chronicle of rebellion of Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Battle of Algiers” (5 pm) and arriving straight from Sundance, the first Los Angeles public screening of Haifaa Al-Mansour’s “The Perfect Candidate” (7:30 pm), a favorite of ours from the “Wadja” director about the spirited campaign of a female Saudi doctor who dares to run for local office.
“We really wanted to meet the people where they live which is onscreen [because] sometimes it’s easier to talk about the issues like health care, education, civil rights through film,” says Cooper. “And then we can make people more comfortable and using their voices and taking their voices to the polls this year.”
Cooper hints that this day-long event may only be the start of creating a dialogue over the course of this election cycle about democracy and politics at ARRAY, and if so, it’s a particularly exciting prospect for both the civically engaged and cinephiles in Los Angeles when she’s effortlessly bringing such films as Anderson’s “Integration Report 1” and “I Am Somebody,” striking documents of the power of equality movements for civil rights and in the workplace that are rarely screened, into the mix.
“This year is the 60th and 50th anniversary of those films, respectively, and not many people know [Anderson’s] name, so we thought it was definitely important to get that work in front of people,” says Cooper. “But also what the films cover – civil rights, union labor rights – are still very prevalent today, so [we thought] let’s use this piece to move today’s conversation forward.”
So with Cooper delivering such an invigorating lineup of films, should she be worried about actually keeping people away from the voting booth on Super Tuesday since they’ll want to be at the Amanda Cinema all day?
“No, still go and vote and come watch a film with us,” she says.
Tickets for the “For the People” series are now available here.