Paul, Bearer of Cheer

Feature VIII Sets Records for Film Streams


From health issues to unexpected travel, a collection of calamities has blocked me from attending any of Film Streams’ annual “Feature” fundraisers. This year’s (held on Aug 25) was my very first, and according to founder and executive director Rachel Jacobson, it broke records and was the biggest ever. I’m not saying the two things are related, only that correlation and causation both start with C.

In a brief speech to kick off Feature VIII, Jacobson revealed that Lola’s Café would be moving into the restaurant space in the Dundee Theater and announced plans for an outdoor patio there. That patio, like virtually everything else in the world of Film Streams, will bear the name of a donor or donors. Huzzah to patrons able to buoy art in Omaha, but my meager life savings has me hoping they’ll name a single, proud bathroom stall after me.

After an equally brisk intro, Alexander Payne and Paul Giamatti sat in what seemed to be comfy chairs atop a rug that really tied the Holland Performing Arts Center together and chatted. The discussion was breezy and casual, with Giamatti every bit the affable dude he has always appeared to be. I had not anticipated a world in which Ben Bernanke’s breakfast bacon would make for a delightful anecdote, but Giamatti unleashed many a giggle while recalling his prep work on Too Big to Fail.

The discussion didn’t really shake loose any deep insights into the craftwork of either Giamatti or Payne so much as it felt like a great dinner party conversation to eavesdrop on. To prove a point about the actor’s talent, Payne eventually had him literally read from the Omaha phone book. Granting tortured expressions and profound verbal pontification to not only random names but a string of numbers did, in fact, confirm that we should be so lucky as to have Giamatti be the new voice of Alexa.

I will never cease to be astounded at Omaha’s embrace of Film Streams. This community’s passion for cinema can’t help but put a goofy smile on my face. The Feature fundraisers seem to be as much about reflection and celebration as they are about establishing a strong financial future for the theater. Across the board, mission accomplished. Been there, done that, read the phone book.


Category: Film

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