The New Parkway: Eclectic Movies with an Oakland Vibe

August 1, 2013

Culture

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Some readers will fondly remember the old Parkway Theater , but if you haven’t visited the new iteration in the Uptown, it’s time to take in a film in one of the two theaters, both with relaxing cozy couches but I definitely prefer the one all on one level because it feels more intimate without the mezzanine.
The theater is a labor of love for manager Moses Ceaser who envisioned the whole concept and doggedly worked to solicit investors and do the build out on a shoestring. I had hosted Moses for a community meeting a couple of years back with the idea of opening The New Parkway in the Temescal but as no space worked out in my hood, I am thrilled that the theater was able to open with a landlord committed to promoting the arts. The same landlord owns the warehouses where 25th St Collective and other galleries are housed.
As a community organizer, I appreciate the tireless energy Ceaser has brought to his passion. After seeing him run in the Oakland Running Festival, he noted that he thought he could finish the half marathon if he could open and run a place like The New Parkway. I volunteered to work the opening preview night for the investors and was impressed that this group looked like everyday folks who didn’t have such deep pockets but had decided to take a chance on something that resonated with their artistic or community alignments.
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Since the opening, I’ve had the good fortune to watch among others Searching for Sugar Man (twice), and Chasing Ice, a documentary that looks at how photographer James Balog captured climate change on film by placing two dozen time-lapse cameras throughout the Arctic and other areas to document melting glaciers. The programming includes new releases, cult classics, and  special programming such as queer films on Sundays. Plus, the food (especially the soups and salads) are healthy and yummy with local beer and wine in the café or even delivered right to your theater seat — all at affordable prices! Every week there is have something for everyone… from Nerd Night to Doc Night and Baby Brigade to Thrillville Theater, and everything in between. Also, on the mezzanine they have free, non-film events like Trivia Tuesdays, Pop-Up Art Wednesdays, and First Fridays.
The operation isn’t flawless. At one screening recently, the operator couldn’t get the movie to download but she kept giving updates and finally screened another show for free plus offered a free movie pass. That’s the kind of customer service and goodwill that go a long way with the public. Plus you can’t beat a $6 ticket price and even $1 off if you ride a bike! (and I love parking mine in the bike corral out front). One of the reasons I go to The New Parkway or Pacific Film Archive is to enjoy the lack of previews or more and more commonly, advertising for cars or booze. When I had watched the same long sponsor trailer for about the 5th time, I suggested to Moses in an email that it be abandoned or at least only screened occasionally. The next time I attended I was not subjected to it so I can only hope my feedback was taken seriously.
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Experience the Power of Generosity: The New Parkway Theater is encouraging patrons to pay-what-they-wish for their movie ticket for the entire month of August. In turn, 30% of ticket sales will be donated to four local nonprofit “Karma Partners,” each in a different sector doing vital work in our community. Partners include: Alameda County Community Food Bank, College Track, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Hopalong Animal Rescue.
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About Karen Hester

Karen Hester is a community activist and events coordinator who lives in North Oakland in Temescal Creek Cohousing. Her event productions website is hesternet.net. She lives and breathes the fight to stop more billboards in Oakland and started ScenicEastBay.org

View all posts by Karen Hester

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