Classic indies for free

Free movies – now that’s what the world is all about. With the opening festival of the new downtown art house movie theater, being able to see classic films, long out of theaters, on the big screen again it’s possible.

Madstone Theaters bought and remodeled the old AMC Hyde Park 7 into a modern day art house, with everything culinary from coffee and baked goods to gourmet sandwiches and wine and everything cinema from film discussions to special events.

But this weekend, to introduce themselves to the community, Madstone has prepared a Free Weekend, a three-day festival of classic and indie films that is completely free of charge.

“We are going to show select films shot in Florida to show how important Tampa is to the film community,” said Margaret Murray, the general manager of the Tampa Madstone Theater.

The festival will include films such as Amelie and Pulp Fiction as well as Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Films featured that were shot at least in part in Florida include Sunshine State and Adaptation.

The Free Weekend festival is a one-time introduction to the world of Madstone. Those interested must go online to fill out a questionnaire and will be e-mailed a free ticket.

“Once you sign up and get your free pass, when you come to watch a movie as you get a card for as many free movies you want to see this weekend,” Murray said.

Although the Tampa downtown area already houses two art house cinemas, Tampa Theatre and Channelside Cinemas, Murray doesn’t feel that Madstone is just another drop in the sea of film culture.

“We are really excited to be in Tampa overall,” Murray said. “There is a strong demand (for art films) here and not enough screens. The more films we bring, the more we benefit the entire community.”

In the future, Madstone plans to show independent and foreign films as part of its program. Films such as Sylvia and Shattered Glass are scheduled to open soon.

Madstone will cater to the art-film-community by introducing a lounge into its environment.

“(In the lounge you can) have a glass of wine, hang out before and after the show,” Murray said. “It’s a new concept, but I think people will embrace it.”

In the future, Madstone plans to expand its program to include film discussions.

“We want (discussions) to be part of our role,” Murray said. “We want to bring special events to foster a sense of film community.”

Murray said she has tried to get in touch with local critics, film makers and film professors to help a Madstone signature program called Delicious Cinema come together. The program consists of a dinner and a movie and later a discussion of the film.

“(Everyone would) watch the film and later go to a local restaurant and have dinner together with a local film expert leading the discussion,” Murray said.

For now, the Free Weekend is a pre-opening festival that will introduce the Tampa community to Madstone. But as the company develops, more interesting programs, including film festivals, are being set up.