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Tower Theatre Update Fall 2022

"While we don't have a reopening date yet, our goal is preservation of the Tower Theatre and also the neighborhood of 9th and 9th as a unique hub for neighbors and friends who support safe spaces for diverse communities to gather."

Here’s the full statement from our own Tori Baker, CEO & Executive Director at SLFS:

“Welcome to the 9th & 9th neighborhood and the Historic Tower Theatre. We are currently under renovation.

Salt Lake Film Society, your local nonprofit cinema organization, has a mission to EXHIBIT, CREATE, & PRESERVE the big-screen experience. Our amazing nonprofit staff is working with construction partners to reveal a renovated lobby, ADA improvements, and other upgrades.

While we don’t have a reopening date yet, our goal is preservation of the Tower Theatre and also the neighborhood of 9th and 9th as a unique hub for neighbors and friends who support safe spaces for diverse communities to gather.

Throughout 2022 we have been working on exterior repairs, including interior planning, drawings and design. We’ve also been committed to fund development, assessments and meetings with our 9th and 9th neighbors on neighborhood preservation ideas. 

We are happy to report that the auditorium repainting, plus ceiling sound panels and video/DVD archive and library assessment are well under way. SLFS has received a pristine collection of 15,000 DVDs to add to our archive and will begin working on the vision for the archive’s return to the newly remodeled lobby.

While we are renovating, see curated films at our Broadway Centre Cinemas location, including traditional Tower programming such as Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tower of Terror, and the most innovative cinematic presentations of independent film in our state.”

You can be part of the preservation of the Tower as a Salt Lake Film Society Red Carpet Club subscriber or donor.

Tower Theatre circa 1940s/1950s

Why SLFS Believes in the Independent Theater Experience

For some of us, film can provide a form of escape. When we sit down to watch a movie (for instance, at an independent theater) we enter another world. It could be a fantasy world, or a world from the past, or a world that strikingly resembles our own. Like a dream, film gives us a place where our minds can seize the opportunity to get away from the thoughts and troubles of our reality, and imagine the undertaking of new experiences and perspectives. All films, and especially good ones, captivate their audience by nurturing this escape, feeding a string of environments, characters, and stories into these worlds that help us relate, and engage with their premise. 

But as personally enchanting as the visual stories of film can be, sometimes we don’t quite notice that this activity can be supported, and even enhanced when we share it with others on the big screen in a movie theater. The maximized visuals and audio of the theater can reinforce the power of any film, and when we partake in this experience with others, looking at the same screen in the same room, with friends, family, or strangers, we come closer together. In the moment, we experience both physically and mentally that dreaming, imagining and exploring with others is a deeply human need, and one that we all share.

Film is a powerful vehicle for creating this intimate connection between total strangers, and it’s at the heart of what we offer the Salt Lake City community at Salt Lake Film Society. We show diverse and engaging independent films that help open minds and hearts, and provide experiences outside of ourselves that bring us closer to others. And through our independent theaters, we are committed to creating and nurturing community spaces where everyone can have shared experiences with one another. 

Why The Big Screen Matters

SLFS believes in the big screen independent theater experience and the power of communal cinema, and we want to tell you why. Movie theaters have always been a pillar of the art of film, and the entertainment industry since the first ones started popping up in the late 19th century. But lately, with the modern era of streaming and nearly unlimited digital access to films becoming the norm, movie theaters have taken a bit of a hit over the years. For some, the convenience of at-home viewing has seemingly started to outweigh the big-screen movie theater experience.

But for many others, there is no substitute for the big screen independent cinema experience and the value it adds to their viewing experience. When you buy a ticket and you take your seat at a theater, you are making a purposeful commitment of attention to both the film and the story. It’s much harder to not engage when the screen nearly takes up your entire field of vision and the sound has the ability to shake your bones.

a photo of an empty auditorium at the Tower Theater, an independent theater in SLC
An empty audience at Tower Theatre, the oldest movie theater in the Salt Lake Valley still in operation. Photo Credit: Purple Moss Photography.

Car engines rumble loudly, wide vistas appear truly expansive, and the quiet tension of a killer stalking their victim is heard and felt throughout the theater. When you watch a film in a theater, the specificity of what you see, hear, and feel is amplified, and consequently amplifies the experience of the story too. You become immersed in it mind, body, and emotions.

But don’t just take our word for it. According to Jeffery Zacks, a professor of psychology at Washington University, the real-life stimuli and the empathetic reasoning that often produces emotion in our lives is not only replicated, but it’s intensified when we watch a movie. “In real life, we see people who cry and we watch bad things happen — all these things make us feel sad. But in a movie, you crank those things up to 11… [a filmmaker] can control exactly what’s shown, and what else is present.” 

Zacks says this effect is even stronger when it comes to watching a film in a theater. “Bigger screens also produce more robust responses… you’re sitting in a dark room where everything else is cut off, the viewer has much less opportunity to walk away or focus on other things… it’s just taking the mechanisms that we encounter in real life and just really pushing all the buttons at once.”

The Independent Theater Experience

The sensory amplification of watching a movie on the big screen is a critical part of why the theater experience makes for a significantly superior experience, but it’s not the only reason. While distractions from not-so-respectful movie-goers can leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, we can’t forget the many positive ways in which communal cinema is powerful and an incredibly humanizing experience.

a photo of the audience sitting down for a movie at an independent theater
Moviegoers sitting down for a film at Broadway

Watching a film with others in a movie theater heightens the empathy, sympathy and connectedness of communal engagement through visual storytelling. Sharing laughs, gasps, and quietly sad moments with friends and strangers is how people become more present with each other. These shared experiences of emotion and physical responses reaffirm the themes, messages, and emotions that a film is trying to convey. The immersive physical space, along with the shared emotional responses is why films seen in a real independent cinema foster more empathy and compassion for people you don’t even know.

For independent theaters like Broadway Centre Cinemas and Tower Theatre that focus on showing independent films, this effect is even more powerful. We make it our mission to not only show thought-provoking films, but to also create a safe and accepting place where people can comfortably experience these stories, thoughts, and feelings with each other. It is our hope that  the empathetic and social bonding that begins on the screen, will continue outside of the theater and into the conversations, ruminations, and lives of our moviegoers long after the credits roll.

Independent Cinema in Salt Lake City – SLFS

At Salt Lake Film Society, we believe deeply in the positive power of communal cinema to improve society, especially when it takes place through the big-screen independent theater experience. SLFS is proud to provide consistent, affordable access to inspiring stories that the  community can share with each other. Through the films we show and the atmosphere we cultivate, we believe communal cinema can foster passionate conscientiousness in our community. So come join us (and your fellow community members) for a film! It just might change your life.

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.

Welcome to Our Salt Lake Film Society Blog!

Hello and welcome to the first post of the Salt Lake Film Society blog! Whether you’re a long-time patron or a curious movie connoisseur looking for your fill of independent cinema, SLFS is proud to have provided the Salt Lake City community with reliable access to independent film for over two decades now. 

The undertaking of our organization is to offer the Utah public consistent access to thought-provoking and socially-engaging films. Furthermore, our mission revolves around the power of film as a universal language, and how these visual stories prompt discussion, inspiration, and introspection in our local community. We are proud to provide physical spaces for film access in Salt Lake City through the Tower Theater and Broadway Centre Cinemas, and with this blog, we also want to create a digital space to further the discourse and dissemination about independent cinema.

Salt Lake Film Society: Home to Independent Film in Salt Lake City

We want to foster a more consistent connection with our fellow movie-goers, and showcase the people working behind the scenes at SLFS to create the experiences that you love. Whether you’re reading about the impactful viewing experiences of our members, or learning more about the films that educate and energize our staff, this blog plans to offer a variety of avenues for patrons, donors and staff alike to engage with our mission, and the visual stories that define it.

The Importance of Independent Film

Why independent films though? What about the film medium and the survival of independent theaters is so important to our community here in Salt Lake City?

“Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes”

Robert Altman

At SLFS, this quote from Robert Altman presents an ideology that exists at the core of why we do what we do. Movies are an indispensable form of entertainment; we love to be entertained. A thoughtful visual story on a big screen has the capacity to captivate our imagination like nothing else. Film lets us feel what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, if only for a brief moment, and the ability to live these vicarious “lifetimes” through cinema gives our minds the opportunity to break out from the ordinariness of everyday life and dip our toes into the extraordinary. 

old black and white photo of Tower Theater
Tower Theatre, the oldest movie theater still operating in the Salt Lake Valley

We love to be entertained, but at the same time, we also like to be challenged, to be compelled to think, analyze, and learn. Film pairs human faces and feelings to the stories and experiences of our world. They are naturally inclusive, turning large, complex concepts into accessible, ubiquitous storylines that we can’t help but relate to. Film helps us open up our minds to an exchange of culture and ideas, especially when someone sees a film about a place or persons dissimilar to their own, 

At SLFS, we work hard to curate programming that promotes this cultural and ideological exchange, whether it’s Norwegian romantic dramas (Worst Person in the World), or Macedonian horror stories (You Won’t Be Alone). We strive to play our part in the cultivation of a more compassionate and thoughtful community, and our mission aims to do this one film at a time. 

Independent Theaters in Salt Lake City – Salt Lake Film Society

The independent theaters we operate seek to embody this diverse quality of independent film as well, a commitment we have established through our Never Zero pledge; we will never have an absence of programming that represents marginalized voices.

Broadway Centre Cinemas and the Tower Theater, as well as independent theaters around the world, have always made it their mission to exhibit as many of these captivating and trailblazing films as possible, and to get as many people to see them as possible. We don’t play the movies that will fill the most seats or make the most money. We want our Salt Lake City community to see films they’ve never heard of, engage with stories they’ve never experienced, and live a few lifetimes they’ve never even thought about. 

So help us support the amplification of diversity and the introspection of your community. Join us for some big-screen entertainment, and leave feeling inspired, at Salt Lake Film Society.

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.