TOPEKA – Filmmaker and University of Kansas doctoral student Juli Pitzer is finally taking her film, “Preserving the Past: Topeka’s Jayhawk Theatre” to a live Topeka audience Thursday, April 28 at 6:30, to an audience inside the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s Marvin Auditiorium.
The event is free to the public and sponsored by the Historic Jayhawk Theatre Inc. and the Kansas Humanities Council. Refreshments will be provided to those in attendance.
The film has shown to Topeka audiences in their homes on WIBW-TV three times since its completion in January 2011 (shown on Channel 13 for the first time on Kansas Day) but Pitzer is looking forward to showing the film to a live audience in Topeka.
“I’m excited to actually show the film in the hometown of the theatre. I hope to get people’s reactions and find more stories that people have to share,” said Pitzer. “I’m excited to see who comes to watch the film.”
Pitzer will open the evening with an introduction to the film.
“I will share a little about how some of the interviews went, and highlights to watch for. I always like to tell people my favorite parts,” said Pitzer.
The 20-minute film will be shown and a discussion and question and answer section will follow.
Pitzer has enjoyed sharing the film with audiences at KU, where she is a doctoral student in film and media studies, and hearing feedback both in person and from fans of the film on Facebook. But the project has an overall mission that is greater than pure entertainment value.
“People really enjoy it. They love the story being told, and people are becoming excited about what the film can do to help the revitalization of downtown [Topeka] and how the Jayhawk Theatre can play a role in that,” said Pitzer.
Pitzer has developed a passion for historic cinemas during her studies and has a special affinity for the Jayhawk Theatre, which is in a state of disrepair after decades of dormancy. Pitzer hopes for a large audience at the Topeka Library showing April 28 so she can continue to spread the film’s message of the theater’s importance historically and to the success of Topeka’s downtown.
“I hope [the audience] gains an awareness of the theatre. The more times people hear the words ‘Jayhawk Theatre,’ it will help the theatre itself. It will draw people for tours, and hopefully donations that will help the theatre come back to life.”
But her film is also a tool to unite people in the commonality of a historically American pastime.
“It’s a movie that people can have a personal connection to. The film presents the opportunity for the shared experience of going to movie theatres,” said Pitzer.
For more information about the film “Preserving the Past: Topeka’s Jayhawk Theatre,” visit “Jayhawk Theatre Documentary Project” on Facebook.