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Arkansas Cinema Society Premieres in Little Rock

The credits have rolled on the Arkansas Cinema Society’s premiere weekend and its exhausted creators are already eager to press play again.

The series featured films and conversations with filmmakers Thursday through Friday at the Ron Robinson Theater in downtown Little Rock. Adam Driver, best known as Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Kylo Ren, Pete’s Dragon director David Lowery, and others were on stage for hour-long conversations with patrons after each screening.

Kathryn Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Cinema Society, says there are several more events coming up this fall, filling a cinematic void – and then some – that was left when the Little Rock Film Festival abruptly shut down in 2015.

Instead of holding one big annual event, the Society will offer up opportunities year-round, says Tucker, a Little Rock native who most recently produced All the Birds Have Flown South in Arkansas.

On Oct. 15, there will be an informal screening in the parking lot at The Root on Main Street in Little Rock, complete with popcorn and hot dogs.

“It will be something like Star Wars or Goonies or something just totally fun and family-friendly,” says Tucker.

The group will partner with the Clinton School of Public Service to screen a documentary at the Ron Robinson Theater on Oct. 28 or 29. Also in October, they plan to bring in the writer and producer of the original Predator for a screening and discussion.

Details are being worked out for the first of three seminars Arkansas Cinema Society co-founder Jeff Nichols, writer and director of Mud and of Loving, will hold this year. The inaugural one will be on screenwriting, sometime in November.

Numbers for this weekend’s events haven’t been crunched yet, but a total of 1,200 tickets were sold for the five screenings held in the 315-seat theater. That figure doesn’t include students admitted for free.

“We offered free tickets to all of the schools that we have met with and that have expressed that they want to support what we’re doing and obviously we want to support what they’re doing, Jeff and I,” she says. “The educational component is extremely important to both of us, if not the most important thing about what we’re trying to do.”

The Arkansas Cinema Society was born out of a desire by Tucker and Nichols to allow people to connect over films and to nurture film talent in the state. Tucker and Nichols went to Central High School together.

“We ran in the same circles and we were in children’s plays together and I think that’s part of the reason we’re doing this,” says Tucker. “We both were just searching for the right spot for us and obviously theater is not where either of us ended up but it was kind of the closest thing to it. I got into photography and theater and all of these things and it’s clear that I wanted to be a filmmaker and was just searching for the right avenue, as was he. And there just wasn’t anything available to us. And we both want to change that.”

Photography courtesy of the Arkansas Cinema Society

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