When Jimmy Sweeney first moved to Fort Worth for college, he realized pretty early on that the city was bereft of movie theaters.
Not the kind of theater where you can walk in on a Friday evening and watch the latest blockbuster — no, Sweeney couldn’t find a movie theater that played the kind of indie and art house films he loves. So he decided to start his own.
The Grand Berry Theater will be Fort Worth’s first single screen art house movie theater that will show independent films of the variety that don’t usually circulate in an AMC or Cinemark movie theater. Located 2712 Weisenberger St. in the Foundry District near West 7th area, the small scale theater will celebrate its grand opening July 6.
“We are striving to be a communal space where people can come and engage with films that are artistically driven and, hopefully, pretty challenging,” Sweeney said.
Every week, the Grand Berry Theater will screen two different films with three to four showtimes every Monday through Wednesday and six to seven showtimes Thursday through Sunday. One of the first films featured in July will be “Rafiki,” a film from Kenya that features a romantic relationship between two women amidst the political pressures of their country. The film was actually banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board because of its theme.
Sweeney said that as one of its first film screenings, “Rafiki” will in a way set the tone of what patrons will come to expect at the Grand Berry Theater.
“It’s a really beautiful, really powerful film,” he said. “And we figured we wanted to start with something that set a tone. You’re going to come here and hopefully see a film that inspires you, makes you think and potentially that you haven’t heard of.”
In addition to art house and indie films, Grand Berry Theater will also have themed nights. There will be Star Wars nights, screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and other cult classics. There will also be a film club that will meet at the theater with discussions following the screenings.
The outside programming is an effort to build a community around lesser known films and among film lovers in Fort Worth.
“I think we’ve seen with the public art and music scenes in Fort Worth, that there is this very strong support system for artists in the city,” Sweeney said, “and so we are excited to hopefully get to tap into that in the medium of film. I think it’s something Fort Worth has been ready for for a long time.”