Silent Film Society finds new spot for old films
The Silent Film Society of Chicago is moving its "Buster Keaton Weekend" March 7-9 from the now-shuttered Des Plaines Theatre to a much smaller venue across the street.
Three screenings of classic Keaton films will be shown at the Leela Arts Center, 620 Lee St., at the same dates and times originally scheduled, according to Dennis Wolkowicz, the society's program director.
"The General" will be shown at 8 p.m. Friday, March 7, "Steamboat Bill Jr." at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 8, and "College" at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9.
Organizers were scrambling to find a new location after owners of the 89-year-old Des Plaines Theatre failed to meet a city-imposed Jan. 15 deadline to fix building code issues, including the absence of a fire-resistant curtain for live theater performances, the lack of a sprinkler system by the stage area, and problems with the boiler and furnace rooms.
The Leela Arts Center doesn't have a movie projector, so organizers with the Silent Film Society will be bringing their own equipment, along with a traveling theater organ to be used for musical accompaniment.
The Leela Arts Center has room for 250 people, compared to the Des Plaines Theatre's 550 seats.
"It's not as big as we'd like in seating capacity, but nonetheless we're going to go with it," Wolkowicz said. "We wanted to try to keep (the festival) in the area."
Wolkowicz said he hopes Des Plaines Theatre owner Dhitu Bhagwakar and city officials will be able to resolve pending issues that would allow the society to host its annual six-week film festival there this summer. If not, the Leela could be a venue for it, Wolkowicz said.
The move to the new venue marks the second time the Silent Film Society has had to relocate because of a theater closing. Last year's summer film festival came to the Des Plaines Theatre after the Portage Theater in Chicago abruptly closed following a change in ownership.