When the Jacksonville Public Library was ready to liquidate its film collection Sun-Ray Cinema founder Tim Massett was ready to take it. But this was back in 1999, long before the birth of Ye Olde Sun-Ray. At that point he was living in Austin, Texas and had built relationships with libraries across the country faced with the imminent and thoughtful disposal of an entire section of their collection. In the late 90s and early aughts many institutions were dropping reels and reels of 16mm educational, ephemeral and who knows what kinds of films in dumpsters – but not if Tim chatted them up first, offering to rescue the movies, sight unseen.
Of those thousands of films many ended up in the hands of private collectors and filmmakers but several hundred favorites remain in the film vault here at Sun-Ray. One of those favorites, a film that went with Tim from Jacksonville to Austin, and up to Northern Minnesota before returning to its birthplace here in our bold new city, is OF, BY, AND FOR THE PEOPLE. A twenty minute piece of what I can only describe as propaganda lite hosted by the sweet-as-pie former Jacksonville Mayor Hans Tanzler the film is meant to extol the virtues of then-new consolidation; ultimately it serves as a time capsule of Jacksonville in 1971: its aspirations, successes, and its people.
When city council candidates were reaching out to local businesses to host meet and greets (and introducing me to charming neologisms like “friendraiser”) Tim and I wanted to think of a way to get involved, and to get our neighbors involved, while retaining the signature je ne sais quoi that is the Sun-Ray experience. Then, like my favorite Liz Taylor movie, BOOM!
We got this super idea to host Conversation With the Candidates, a town hall style chat that will open with a screening of OF, BY, AND FOR THE PEOPLE that will hopefully inspire a one-of-a-kind discussion between both candidates for District 14: Jim Love and Jason Tetlak. We can’t imagine the film has been screened in Jacksonville since its original release – which by the way was what exactly? Was it screened on public TV, or at some party, or what? If anyone knows please reach out to shana (at) sunraycinema (dot) com.
Anyway, we hope to see you here March 4 at 6:30PM. The conversation will be moderated by John Citrone. Tickets are free and can be picked up here at the Sun-Ray box office.