The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

FilmScene celebrates 10 years of growing the IC film community

Since its opening in 2013, FilmScene’s devotion to community engagement and varied programming has established Iowa City as a center for cinema.
Isabella Tisdale
FilmScene at the Chauncey is seen in Iowa City on Monday, Nov. 6, 2023.

Through its unique showing of movies and emphasis on community engagement, FilmScene has established a central presence in Iowa City’s art scene since its opening in November 2013. 

To celebrate the nonprofit movie theater’s accomplishments over the past decade, it is hosting several events for Iowa City film fans to enjoy. 

Its annual fundraising event, Eyeopener, welcomes patrons to play games, eat, drink, and watch short films every year around November. But this year, the festivities are receiving a makeover.

“We’re celebrating like we’re ten years old,” FilmScene’s Events Manager, Angie Mabeus, said. 

While fundraising is still the goal, patrons can expect a wide variety of festivities akin to a childlike birthday party.

FilmScene is also hosting a short film that plays on rotation throughout its annual fundraising events, and the birthday party is no different. The short film is not revealed until the event, but it’s sure to be festive.

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Along with an abundance of food and drinks, there will be plenty of games. “The second floor will be entirely games you would play at a ten-year-old’s birthday party,” Mabeus said. 

Giant Jenga, pin the tail on the donkey, a theater dedicated to bingo, and more games will fill FilmScene on Dec. 3, at 4 p.m.

“We love pomp and circumstance, we encourage that regularly,” Andrew Sherburne, executive director and co-founder of FilmScene, said. 

Beginning as a one-screen theatre in Iowa City’s Ped Mall, the organization has since expanded over the last decade. 

“Iowa City is well served with multiplexes, but there was no place for arthouse films or a dedicated downtown theater,” Sherburne explained. “We recognized it was missing.”

After the first location opened, a second screen followed, as well as rooftop screenings. 

“We really haven’t stopped growing,” Sherburne added.  

The University of Iowa’s Bijou Film Board has been a major influence on FilmScene as well. Sherburn and co-founder Andy Brodie reached out to Bijou about partnering before the theater even opened. 

“We love the programming that you’re doing, but we want to elevate that. This is something that should be there every day,” Sherburne recounted what he told Bijou. 

Having a reliable space for independent or arthouse cinema has been integral to FilmScene since the beginning. Opening a second location in 2019 made further variety in programming possible.

“We show over 450 movies a year now,” Sherburne said. 

Series like Late Shift at the Grindhouse, the Picture Show, Reel Representation, and more have offered further opportunities to show off unique cinema in Iowa City. 

Alongside its birthday party, FilmScene debuted its Cinematic Centuries series, an event that will screen a different movie from the past ten decades each week, to celebrate both its history and the history of cinema.  

“We do more than just showing movies,” Mabeus explained. “We want to make sure it is a community-involved theater.”  

In 2022, FilmScene debuted the Refocus Film Festival, a new annual program that represents everything that makes FilmScene a unique destination for film fans. 

Looking to the future, FilmScene can only continue to work on what has already been successful. 

“We want people to feel a sense of home,” Sherburne said. “We are always working toward building that sense of community to be even stronger.”

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About the Contributors
Charlie Hickman
Charlie Hickman, Arts Reporter
Charlie Hickman is a sophomore at the University of Iowa. He is majoring in English on the Pre-Law track with minors in Political Science and Cinema.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.