‘In­ter­ac­tive’ film se­ries to re­vi­tal­ize Cos­sitt Li­brary

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - GO SEE - By John Bei­fuss

Be­gin­ning Sat­ur­day, an in­no­va­tive and “in­ter­ac­tive” monthly movie se­ries will bring “Pan­de­mo­nium” — de­fined by the Mer­riam-web­ster Dic­tio­nary as “a wild up­roar” or “tu­mult” — to that typ­i­cally most hushed of pub­lic spa­ces, the li­brary.

The brain­child of Mem­phis film­maker Craig Brewer and lo­cal movie maven Matt Mar­tin, the “Pan­de­mo­nium Cinema Show­case” will trans­form a large open room on the sec­ond floor of the his­toric Cos­sitt Li­brary at 33 S. Front into a free pop-up movie theater, art space and en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter, where roller derby ath­letes, “Mon­ster Mash­ers” and Oompa-loom­pas will “blur the line be­tween movie and real­ity,” Mar­tin said.

The events should do more than amp up the movie-go­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. They also likely will bring new vis­i­tors to the Cos­sitt, a build­ing that has been threat­ened with clo­sure nu­mer­ous times i n re­cent decades due to the shift­ing pop­u­la­tion trends of Down­town Mem­phis.

Orig­i­nally a fab­u­lous sand­stone cas­tle-like struc­ture, the Cos­sitt opened as the city’s first pub­lic li­brary in 1893. A rear ad­di­tion dou­bled the li­brary’s size in 1925.

Then, in a truly egre­gious ex­am­ple of Mem­phis my­opia, the tur­reted cas­tle was razed in the late 1950s to make way for the min­i­mal­ist “mid­cen­tury modern” rect­an­gle that is fa­mil­iar to­day. Once de­rided by a critic for its “ab­so­lute ug­li­ness,” the box­like build­ing now con­veys a retro Atomic Age in­tegrity, and even looks beau­ti­ful at night, thanks to the re­cent ad­di­tion of candy-col­ored lights that trans­form its ver­ti­cal sec­tions into rain­bow bands, as if it were a very large pack of Fruit Stripe gum.

Li­brary his­to­rian Wayne Dowdy said the room where the movies will be screened orig­i­nally housed the li­brary’s ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als, and was the place where Shelby Foote re­searched much of the first vol­ume of his

“Tron” will be shown dur­ing Sat­ur­day’s movie show­case.

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