News Column

Arts&Crafts Fest at Screenland Armour is your typical brewfest

August 22, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 22--If you haven't been to the renovated and refurbished Screenland Armour recently, its new owners are giving you several dozen reasons to stop by this weekend.

The theater in downtown North Kansas City is hosting a two-day celebration of films, live music, the visual arts and craft beers. What started off as a modest plan to showcase the theater and a fledgling local microbrewery turned into something else.

"Back in February, we talked about doing a brewfest with Cinder Block, the new craft brewery here in North Kansas City, but things got crazy for them, so they weren't able to participate," said Adam Roberts, who co-owns the movie theater with Brent Miller. The two took over the theater in October. In March, they upgraded to digital projection. They have also stocked its bar with nearly 90 craft beers, mostly bottled.

But Roberts wouldn't let the idea rest. After hosting a successful horror/science-fiction film festival called Panic Fest in April, he got the itch to try a bigger event, one that showcased two things the Screenland Armour is known for -- independent films and craft beers -- plus the local music and arts scenes.

"I told Brent I was going to try to put something together," he said. "He went on vacation for a few days, and by the time he came back I'd put together the Arts & Crafts Fest."

The event is Friday evening and all day Saturday inside the theater, including its 300-person loft space. It will feature six films, including "Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me," a documentary about the late Alex Chilton and his legendary cult band; and "Good Ol' Freda," a documentary about Freda Kelly, who was the Beatles' secretary for 11 years.

The festival will also feature live music from 12 Kansas City/Lawrence bands, exhibitions by 15 local artists and samples of more than 60 craft beers. The event will also benefit local charities.

"Brent and I have really gotten into the beer game with all the craft beers we offer at the theater," Roberts said. "So craft beers were an obvious part of it. I wanted it to be two days instead of one. I wanted local bands and artists involved. I thought it would be cool to get some local charities involved. So a portion of each ticket goes to a charity, and you get to choose which of the six charities it goes to."

The festival will also give fans of independent movies a chance to watch on a big screen films that typically go straight to video-on-demand, Roberts said.

"A lot of times those movies are really horrible or very low-budget or they have no stars in them, or if they do, they're washed-up stars," he said.

"But a movie like 'Prince Avalanche' (starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch), which we're already showing, is a well-received movie that a lot of theaters won't take on because they think there's no point because people won't come out to see it if they can watch it at home.

"But I still like seeing movies in theaters. Especially like the Big Star or Beatles documentaries, which give hardcore fans of those bands a chance to get together and enjoy something they all love. It's a different experience from watching it on your couch."

The wild card film of this festival, he said, is a movie called "Grabbers," from Ireland, which he described as "this insane pseudo-horror/comedy about people in a bar banding together to fight monsters. It's bizarre and awesome and really funny. It's a movie most people would never see or hear of.

"We thought about booking something big budget, like 'The World's End,' for the festival, but that's a film you're going to hear about anyway. We wanted to shine some spotlight on films people will like but may not know about otherwise."

The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the screening of "Drinking Buddies." Friday's final event will be a midnight showing in each of the two theaters. One of those films is a "mystery," the other is "Grabbers." Also showing: "Prince Avalanche" at 7:30 p.m. Three bands will also perform: Cape Lions, the American Life and Man Bear.

"The American Life hasn't done much for almost four years," Roberts said. "They reunited just for this festival. They're pretty excited about it."

Friday's admission is $25. In addition to the live music and three films, admission gets you get two pints of craft beers.

Doors open at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday with the showing of the documentary "Evocateur: Morton Downey Jr." At 1 p.m., the art exhibit opens in the upstairs loft space and the craft-beer sampling begins. The Big Star documentary shows at 2:45 p.m. "Good Ol' Freda" shows at 4:45 p.m. Between films, a Beatles/Big Star tribute band will perform. Other films to be shown: "Drinking Buddies" and "Grabbers" or the mystery movie.

Nine bands or solo acts will perform in the loft space until 6 p.m. Saturday, when the music moves into the theaters downstairs: Ben Rekittke, Brent Windler, Max Justus, Rev Gusto, Hidden Pictures, Deco Auto, La Guerre, the Cave Girls and the Dead Girls. Two food trucks will be on hand outside the theater from 5 to 7 p.m. There will also be several beer contests, including a mug-hoisting competition.

Admission for Saturday is $50. It includes the four films, nine bands and 20 beer samples (the equivalent of five beers), a commemorative tasting glass and bottles of any of the theater's craft beers for $2 each. A two-day pass is available for $60.

"I've been to a lot of beer festivals, and typically there's not a lot going on," Roberts said. "You're usually outside and it's hot, and you spend a lot of time in line waiting for your next beer sample. Maybe there's a cover band playing in the background.

"We wanted to do something that wasn't typical. Where you aren't rushed, the lines aren't long and you have time to relax and there are things to do, like check out a band, enjoy some art or watch a movie."

Arts & Crafts Fest

The two-day Arts & Crafts Fest begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday and 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the Screenland Armour, 408 Armour Road in downtown North Kansas City. Tickets are $25 for Friday's events, $50 for Saturday's. A two-day pass is $60. For a complete schedule, go to ArtsAndCraftsKC.com.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/phinnagain. Read more from him at our music blog, Back to Rockville, at KansasCity.com.

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