Monday, October 02, 2006

Local Heroes

LOCAL HEROES

The next time you’re in Montgomery, Alabama you gotta go down to the art deco Capri Theater in the Cloverdale Historic District, and you gotta meet Martin McCaffery who’s been the director of this non-profit art house since 1983. Martin’s a former union projectionist who said he came down to Montgomery and started work at the Capri at “50% of my former salary, for twice as much work”. The night I was there, he seemed to know every single customer.

Martin is a champion of free speech, not only by making the Capri into an outpost of interesting foreign and independent films and documentaries but also by flying in the face of the Alabama establishment and showing films like “The Last Temptation of Christ”. Conservative Christians throughout the country protested the film and Martin created a furor. He also served as the spokesman for the Alabama ACLU for many years so he was good at defending civil liberties, including free speech.

"We were condemned by the governor, the mayor and the City Council, and thousands of people signed petitions seeking to stop us from showing [“The Last Temptation”]". Martin explained. The controversy caused people from all over the South to flock to the Capri to see the film and the theater has its best two weeks attendance record ever.

Martin’s other passion is taking pictures of old theaters around the southeast, most of which are closed. You can see these amazing palaces on his website -http://martinmc.home.mindspring.com/.

People like Martin McCaffrey are the lifeblood of independent filmmakers, like me. I think of him as a national treasure. One of the great percs of being a filmmaker on the Southern Circuit is sharing a pizza and beer with someone like Martin and seeing how just one person can make such a huge difference in the quality of life of our communities.