The vibe of Black Cat Picture Show in Augusta, Georgia tells you everything you need to know before you’ve even located the free popcorn. Showing films out of Le Chat Noir Theatre in a building dating back to the 1800’s that, at different times, housed a dry goods store, a prohibition-era speakeasy, a 70’s porn theatre, a 90’s punk club and, most recently, a hybrid theatre for live entertainment and indie films, BCPS delivers on the passion-and-sweat-equity charged indie movies you start salivating for when you step inside. It’s an unpretentiously edgy, nostalgia-sweetened, environment that makes movie watching fun.

Krys Bailey, Executive Director of Le Chat Noir, is as familiar with sweat equity and passion currency as the filmmakers screening at BCPS. Coming off of the advisory board of the too-short-lived Southern Fried Flix Festival in 2004, Krys and his partner, Duane Brown, finding no city support for a new festival, self-financed the inaugural year of Black Cat Picture Show. Duane bought the projector, Krys bought the player and switcher, and their local family of artists and friends helped with the rest. 

“We shopped the film fest proposal around to the city and to various art festivals for about 3 years, each time we just slapped a different name on it. This city couldn’t be less interested. So we finally decided to just push forward with limited funds from Le Chat Noir and drawing on its extremely talented and dedicated staff. As such, we named it after the theatre that took a chance on it.”

Augusta, a two-and-a-half hour drive from Atlanta, has the look of a great film city. It has a thriving and diverse art scene and a Main Street that could play any decade from the 40’s on with minimal dressing. Like a lot of non-Atlanta cities, though, it’s still developing. Krys notes:

“It’s like being in a high school lunchroom. With the exception of a few folks, everyone sticks to their cliques. However, our local government has recently become interested in film as an industry and formed FilmAugusta, which has started to unite the different camps somewhat. It’s exciting to see what will come of it.“

For Black Cat Picture Show, a united Augusta film scene might yield more local films, but it won’t change the DNA of the festival. Krys and his team are showing films they feel passionate about in a one-of-a-kind venue that suits their needs. Anything more red-carpeted and formally glitzed might, well, kill the vibe. In an indie film world trending towards the experiential, that vibe is essential.

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