In our age of Netflix and streaming videos, movie attendance continues its long decline, and cinema-going is becoming ever less of the collective experience Walter Benjamin so memorably described. Throughout the city of San Francisco, however, many theaters built between 1910 and 1950 are still standing, and some even remain in operation, serving as poignant reminders of Hollywood's Golden Age and the social interactions that once came with movie-going. R.A. McBride's lush color photographs—made with film cameras, of course—showcase these temples to celluloid in all their threadbare grandeur. Photographed empty, the buildings' architectural qualities, from rotunda chandeliers and warmly glowing walls to drab lobbies and worn armrests, come to the fore. Essays by scholars and film exhibitors including Rebecca Solnit, Julie Lindow, Eddie Muller, Chi-Hui Yang, Elisabeth Houseman, and Gary Meyer cast light from personal and scholarly perspectives, examining the movie houses' roles as characters in the cultural drama of the city.
This is the first of several events celebrating this collection's release.