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SLFS: Putting Classic Movies Back In Theaters

logo of SLFS summer showdown where classic movies are played at an independent theater in SLC

Like any engaging form of art, film is a medium that is often defined and disseminated through its most classic works. Whether defining the genre of the time and influencing works of the future, or achieving renown only in hindsight after being popularized by the next generation, “classic” movies have always existed as vital storytelling pieces for everything from entire countries, to entire generations.

At Salt Lake Film Society, repertory films and classic movies are a crucial part of our programming repertoire. While there are incredible independent films being released all the time (many of which we are lucky enough to show at the Broadway), for many people, classic movies are the driving force behind their love of film and the impactful connection they have with it. And what better way to re-experience the magic of these classics than how they were intended: on the big screen?

Keep reading to learn why seeing a classic movie on the big screen matters (or click here to view our Summer Showdown schedule of classic movies at the Broadway this summer!). And don’t forget; until July 15th, all donations will be matched through a generous offer from a local family foundation. So if you value access to independent film and things like seeing classic movies on the big screen, this is the perfect time to show us your support! Click here to see our progress so far, and make your own contribution!

What Exactly is a Classic Movie?

While there is no official definition, it’s not exactly easy to qualify what is considered a classic. It could be an Oscar-laden adventure trilogy integral to pop-culture, or a dated love story full of big-name stars during their younger years, or even a low-budget horror flick that achieves “cult” status in the modern Internet age. 

a picture of Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman in the classic movie The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman in the The Big Lebowski, part of the 2023 Summer Showdown lineup

The definition of a “classic” movie is often defined less by its content or fame and more by its staying power through the years, both in our minds and our culture. It’s the iconic stories, whose themes and outcomes still feel relevant even upwards of 70 years after a film’s release. It’s the iconic performances from Hollywood legends or unknown actors announcing their skill to the world. It’s the extremes, both the extremely good and the extremely bad, that still get parodied on sketch shows and quoted between colleagues.

There is no reliable formula for making a classic movie, especially when it comes to cult classics, as they seem to become popular despite themselves, which makes their nostalgic success even more unpredictable. Even the very nature of a classic means that people won’t definitively know if it qualifies as a classic until years later, and like with any art form, ambiguity and personal taste play a big part. Similarly to how the Supreme Court defined pornography in 1964, it’s hard to describe and specifically define, but many people know it when they see it.

Capturing the Magic of Classic Movies, In Theaters

However, like any classic in any other artistic medium, watching a classic movie nowand trying to “recapture” the authentic magic and the power it brought to both initial and later audiences isn’t so easy. For example, while many of us know works of art from the Renaissance era, most of us have only seen a photo of the Mona Lisa painting or the Michaelangelo statue of David, and only in a digital era long past the widespread fame of painting and sculptures. 

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey doing the iconic lift in the classic movie Dirty Dancing
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey doing the iconic lift in Dirty Dancing, another classic entry in our 2023 Summer Showdown lineup

While the era of film fame is alive and well today, the power of the big screen and a packed audience in a dark theater is unfortunately much easier to miss out on. And trying to experience the authenticity of a classic film when it’s streamed to your TV in your living room is akin to appreciating the Mona Lisa through a small image on your phone.

Getting to watch (or more likely, re-watch) these cinematic milestones on the big screen, sharing in a nostalgia trip with total strangers, and for many, re-living the magic of watching a classic when it first came out (and when it wasn’t even a classic yet) can be a powerful, and even emotional experience for many people. Classic movies have always been something that we have shared with both those close to us, and with those we don’t even know. Their staying power in our society and our communicative culture has always had the capacity to bring us closer together. And SLFS is proud to offer these classic movies in theaters to our Salt Lake City community.

See Classic Movies at SLFS Summer Showdown!

If classic movies are as important to you as they are to us, come down to the Broadway on a Friday or Saturday this summer, and see a film on the big screen that will take you on a little trip down memory lane. Or if you haven’t seen some of these classics before, there is truly no better way to experience them than on the big screen! Vote for your favorite film of our summer selections with your ticket purchase to the film, or any film-specific donations you want to provide by finding the poster in the Broadway lobby, scan the QR code of your favorite film, and donate if you want to see that film win! 

And don’t forget; until July 15th, all donations will be matched through a generous offer from a local family foundation. So if you value access to independent film and things like seeing classic movies on the big screen, this is the perfect time to show us your support! Click here to see our progress so far, and make your own contribution!

To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.


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