By Robert St. Martin
Eagle Rock, CA (The Hollywood Times) 6/9/23 – Some great news for film lovers: Vidiots, the alternative video store which was in Santa Monica for 37 years has been reborn in Eagle Rock in Northeast Los Angeles and had its grand opening last Sunday, June 4 at 4884 Eagle Rock Boulevard. A Los Angeles film space founded and helmed by women, Vidiots was opened in Santa Monica as an alternative video store in 1985 by L.A. natives Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber. For nearly three decades, Vidiots thrived, growing its unique collection, and serving a far-reaching, diverse, and devoted community of film lovers. Vidiots’ new home, in the heart of Northeast L.A., was once the Yosemite Theatre which opened in May 1929 at the corner of Eagle Rock Boulevard and Yosemite Drive. The Yosemite changed its name to The Eagle Theatre in 1940 and went on to serve generations of audiences for 70 years before going dark and transitioning to a church in the early 2000s.
In 2017, in the wake of rising costs, Vidiots’ Board of Directors elected to store Vidiots’ 50,000-title collection, and shutter the iconic storefront with a plan to create a new, sustainable business model, and relaunch in a new location. In spite of all the challenges presented by a global COVID pandemic, Vidiots launched construction on the old Eagle Theatre in July of 2020. With generous donations from many people in the film community, more than $1,000,000 was raised to lovingly rehabilitate the historic Eagle Theatre.
Vidiots offers 2 cinemas (271 and 35 seats), a flexible community space, and a spacious lobby for rentals. The 271-seat house features 4K Christie projection, 35mm and 16mm film projection, and 7.1 surround sound. The 35-seat house features 2K Christie projection and 5.1 surround system, with non-fixed seating. Both cinemas are additionally equipped for presentations and can be rented for meetings. Further, the cinemas are equipped with Dolby Accessibility Solution captioning and hearing assist devices. The spacious lobby includes a beer and wine bar serving a light menu and a community space that can host micro-cinema events.
Numerous high-profile founding members helped with fundraising efforts to rehabilitate the old theatre space of the Eagle Theatre and make this lovely new combination theatre-video rental jewel happen. These included: Katie Aselton and Mark Duplass, Lake Bell, Jen and Jay Duplass, Mette-Marie Kongsved and Elijah Wood, Karina Longworth and Rian Johnson, Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza and Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
After opening last Sunday, the Eagle Theatre programs seven days a week of a wide variety of films. These include repertory titles, new independent films, classics, all-ages programs and education and preservation initiatives. The Vidiots Foundation is working with community and programming partners including A Bunch of Savages, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, IFC Films and Shudder, KCRW, Lionsgate, Monkeypaw Productions, MUBI, Outfest, rePROFilm, UCLA Film & Television Archive and Women in Film.
I recommend checking out the website: https://vidiotsfoundation.org. Films are screened in the afternoon and the evening. On Friday, June 9, “His Girl Friday” screened at 2:35 pm. This was followed by two sold-out screenings (at 4:45 and 7:15) of Alexandre O. Philippe’s “Lynch/Oz” (2022), a new film about how the themes, images, and cultural vernacular of Victor Fleming’s “The Wizard of Oz” continue to haunt David Lynch’s art and filmography – from his very first short, “The Alphabet,” to his latest series, “Twin Peaks: The Return.”
On Saturday, June 10, the Eagle Theatre is showing Alex Winters’ “Zappa” (2020) followed by “Roxy: The Movie” (directed by Frank Zappa), capped later by David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” (1990). On Sunday, June 11, in the smaller 35-seat theatre, there will be a set of experimental short films entitled “Deconstructions” at 7:00 pm. (You need to register on-line but this event is free.) It is part of UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Imagining Indigenous Cinema: New Voices, New Visions program – and will help bring contemporary avant-garde to this side of Los Angeles. In the larger theatre on Sunday, June 10, there will a screening of David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” at 7:30 pm. Prices for most films are: $12.00 General Admission; $10.50 for Seniors and Students. There are films programmed every day and the best way to know what is coming up is to check out the Vidiots website listed above.
The Vidiots rental library is housed next door to the theatre at 4884 Eagle Rock Blvd. It is open weekdays 10 am to 10 pm and weekends 11 am to 11 pm. At the moment in Vidiots has a publicly-accessible rental library of over 60,000 titles on DVD, Blu-Ray, and 4K Ultra HD. It is a most comprehensive and diverse selection of movies, television, and media of all kinds, including short films, music videos, and experimental work from around the world. Rental rates are: Non-Members: $3/per rental for 5 Days; Members: $2/per rental for 7 Days. Membership at Vidiots has its perks: Super-Fan ($100); Super-Duper Fan ($250); Super-Duper Fan Xtreme ($500).