My film had screened in so many places by then, in cineplex theaters and living rooms and lecture halls and yet, stepping into the People’s Theater, it was suddenly very clear how appropriate it was to be showing a movie so reverent about our past in a place that was also, by its very existence, an homage to simpler, more compassionate times.
Very little about the theater had changed. Sure, the wood rot had been warded off in spots and there was now a coffee machine behind the refreshment counter, but the structure itself was a fossil, reflecting in its brittle, rigid form, how grand entertainment was way back when. There were no pyrotechnics or dolby waveforms in the films that opened this theater in the 1930s. For audiences regaled by comedies and cliffhangers, the most special effect of all was sound.
Standing in the cavernous well of the theater was a humbling experience. There were hundreds and hundreds of antique seats, vintage chairs that used to sparkle in the dim house lights of yore. One could easily imagine the entire town shuttering one night a week as everyone forgot about the harsh work in the sugar cane fields and lost themselves in the magic of the movies.
So it was fate that brought me that evening, a destiny long coming that allowed me to share the magic of my film with a community still searching for a roadmap to that past; a history where everyone loved each other, took care of each other, and helped each other, always without question.
I came bearing hope, and departed the theater lost in the magic of history.