You probably heard the news: The Belcourt got brand new seats recently. But, alas, it was only in one hall. The building is structurally sound, but the AC has certainly seen better days in its 30-years-and-counting existence. And so it is that some nights, Nashville's oldest and only neighborhood movie house still dreams of the past. Of brand new seats for the second hall. Of bigger and better preservation efforts. Of a balcony restored to its 1925 grandeur. They're not too proud to admit it: They still need your help to keep the projectors rolling into the last century so they can keep going in this one.
Not that you could tell by looking at their latest fundraising efforts. Instead, The Belcourt is celebrating their own independence — as a successfully functioning locally owned and operated theater since 2000 — and their love for all things independent like somebody with better things to do than wallow. This Thursday continues the nD Festival, five days of film, music and fashion with a mix of what they do best — a film retrospective — combined with a well-curated schedule of booze, boutiques and bands. If you weren't paying attention, you might just think the shindig was merely a long-overdue, ultra-hip art festival the city was finally smart enough to throw.
"We needed a fundraiser that showcases the independent flair of the theater, and wanted to do something unique," says Hayley Waddey Hall, director of marketing and development. "We kept being drawn back to fashion. Film has always been an underlying component of how fashion trends are started, and it just seemed like a natural tie to do a film and fashion celebration. That was the original concept."
Indeed, as long as the silver screen has shimmered, captive audiences have been jotting down sartorial notes. Long is the list of snatched-up digs immediately following an influential film's debut. Diane Keaton famously sent '70s women to thrift stores scouring for oversized vests, khakis and ties; Katharine Hepburn launched a thousand pantsuits — and that is to say nothing of the Sebergs and Bardots, the Brandos and Monroes.
"For our audience, there is a natural overlap," says Hall. "People who love independent film appreciate the fashion and music that's in it. The people who love fashion like to come see films, like Coco Before Chanel and I Am Love."
The result is a neighborhood hop that acquaints locals with local and regional designers, a film retrospective featuring the work of French comic master Jacques Tati, and local independent artists, all steeped in the vibe of the Southern, the custom and the original. (And don't forget the added bonus, that the proceeds help keep the film reels spinning.) Some highlights:
Thursday, Sept. 23:
Slip on your favorite baby blues and head to 12South to Imogene + Willie, the raw denim boutique single-handedly transforming Nashville's denim reputation. This edition of their regular Supper and Song events features music, Mas Tacos, vintage motorcycles and a sundown screening of the too-cool-for-school Brando flick The Wild One. 5 p.m., free (donations requested); BYOB.
Friday, Sept. 24:
Belcourt boho is the requested look for this Patron Party at Zeitgeist Gallery on 21st Avenue hosted by socially conscious design collective Project Artisan. Joshua Payne sets the mood for perusing collections from Nike Kondakis' Kenyan crafted jewelry and handbags, plus pieces from Plum Vintage and Debe Dohrer. Afterward, hoof it to the Belcourt for Tati's classic comedy of errors, M. Hulot's Holiday. 5:30 p.m., $175; $150 for Belcourt members.
Saturday, Sept. 25:
Rise and shine in your best vintage French look for this late-morning soiree, Mimosa's, Marys and a Movie. Attendees will be served a light brunch from French-inspired bakery Provence, sip on the tangy bubbly of a mimosa and relax for a noon viewing of Tati's slapstick gem Jour de Fete. 11 a.m., $25; $20 for Belcourt members.
Sunday, Sept. 26:
Don your best Belcourt boho again for this grande fin: The EnD Fashion Show featuring regional designers Billy Reid, a buzzed-about menswear designer who focuses on elegant Southern style; Alabama Chanin, a fellow Florence, Ala., designer whose work is handmade and dreamily rural; and local boutique Imogene + Willie. The evening commences with drinks and heavy appetizers; the fashion show features brand loyalists as models, and short films on the designers' work show throughout the evening, with locals Pawnshop Kings performing live during the runway show. 5 p.m., $100; $85 for Belcourt members.