“Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” have been a boon for the Lindsay Theater & Cultural Center in Sewickley as patrons came back — some for the first time since the pandemic — to see those two summer blockbusters. And the nonprofit organization had a great response to its summer class movie series, all adding up to a great summer with record ticket sales.
So Chief Executive Officer Carolina Pais-Barreto Thor and her staff have something different planned for September: a two-week documentary series with nine titles. It fits right in, too, with back-to-school time and a chance to learn something new.
Its first Documentary Week, starting Friday and running through Sept. 14, will include a number of director talkbacks and special activities, Thor explained. The best part? Each title will be shown on multiple days and times, making it more flexible for patrons.
The Lindsay screened one of those films, “Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys,” last year just one time. Thor said the staff received so many calls from people who were upset that they didn’t get a chance to see the documentary about the State College fly fishing legend that she said it was a natural to add it to the list. Plus the husband and wife filmmakers, Lucas and Meigan Bell, are originally from Cheswick and Sarver.
The other titles are: “Join or Die,” “Tiny Shoulders,” “King Coal,” “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” “Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie,” “Behind the Stage Door,” “Venice: Infinitely Avant Garde,” “Every Body” and “Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf.”
“Behind the Stage Door” details the life’s work of renowned Pittsburgh concert promoter Rich Engler, inspired by his book with the same title. Engler will be at the theater for the 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, screening for a Q&A and a book signing.
Three other directors will also be available to audiences via virtual talkbacks, including “Tiny Shoulders” producer, director and writer Andrea Blaugrund Nevins. She’ll answer audience questions after the 5:15 p.m. screening on Friday.
Thor has been intrigued by the 2018 documentary, and she has a major question about it. “Did that 2018 documentary predict the blockbuster that ‘Barbie’ is?” she asked. Thor said she is looking forward to that conversation with Nevins, who has been interviewed extensively this year. “She unearthed some of the really relatable points that [Greta Gerwig’s] film brought up,” she said.
The Lindsay staff prepared the slate of films to intentionally reflect a variety of tastes and interests. “It was a bit of a matrix,” she explained. “We know some of the topics our audiences enjoy, and we started researching documentaries available to us. We had documentaries we wanted to show for over a year.”
The Lindsay screens mostly new releases, so Thor said it had been difficult to select the time to dedicate to documentaries, especially with the terms prescribed by movie companies. But early fall worked the best because the rush to see the summer blockbusters is largely behind the Lindsay. “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” will continue, though, and “Golda,” starring Helen Mirren as Golda Meir, has begun its run.
The one thing Thor knew when the planning began is that the Lindsay didn’t want a theme for the documentaries, which audiences have shown a much greater interest in coming to see. “We wanted to have this broad array of topics and representing differing interests,” she said. “I think that was the difficult part. There is so much incredible product out there when it comes to documentaries. You always learn something new. You are always exposed to a different view.”
Tickets for the documentary series are discounted from the $11 general admission price to $8.75 for senior citizens (65+), college students and military with ID, and children 10 and younger. Group discounts of $8.75 per ticket apply to 10 or more people. Anyone interested in bringing a group should contact the theater in advance.