Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Screening #9, Revisited.

#9: Mobile Arts Council, Mobile, AL
Mobile was great. After the long dry spell that all of our shows between Charleston and Jackson had offered, we arrived at the waterfront of Mobile (in the daylight!), totally excited to have the opportunity to see historic revitalization in full effect. We'd passed through any number of backroad highway strip malls on the trip so far, always making the effort to wend into the Main Street or the Old Town of wherever, finding a sad stretch of beautifully decrepit old buildings with as many empty windows as thrift store and haircut shops. The toss of a town and its proximity to what came later seemed to be as clear a determinant of the state of Main Streets as the current economic slump, but still: Mobile was lively, alive.
It always helps to have a good host, and ours was more than excited to show us around the city that he'd adopted two decades ago.
As was the case in Columbia, we got a walking tour of the city in its various incarnations, had a delicious sit-down meal (oysters and crawfish!), saw a giant model train railroad on the second floor of a busty-Sphinx-decorated temple, and made it to the venue in plenty of time. Our screening space here was in an old library theater, glowing with the kind of austerity that lends itself well to our touring collection of 16mm films. The theater filled in bits and pieces, and while a few of our viewers walked out during the short that preceded our program (probably just as well), the rest stuck around till the glorious end.
A great local filmmaker (hello Carson!) and two ladies from Belize and Togo, respectively, went out for drinks with us afterwards, and we talked and ate Southern Sushi until the later hours of the night. Again, and as was the case in Columbia, we were lucky enough to stay with Carson and his wife (and their hilarious dog) and to hold onto Mobile as a bright point in this long and winding tour.