As Beyond Video nears the end of its crowdfunding campaign, the aspiring nonprofit video store will get a boost from restaurant/bar/mini-cinema New America with a benefit tonight.
This week the Baltimore Video Collective, which hopes to open the store, is making a last-minute push to reach its all-or-nothing funding goal (per Kickstarter's rules). The $30,000 the group is seeking would pay for fixing up the storefront, paying rent, and doubling the current film collection.
At the benefit, New America will be screening films by Marnie Ellen and Beth Hoekel, Skizz Cyzyk (a former City Paper contributor and Video Americain employee), and Les Blank, with music by DJ Secret Weapon Dave and DJ Hybex.
Beyond Video would be collectively owned and staffed by the seven BVC members, including multimedia artist Liz Donadio, curator of films and photographs at the Maryland Historical Society Joe Tropea, Maryland Film Festival programming directors Eric Hatch and Scott Braid, as well as Dave Barresi, Kevin Coelho, and Greg Golinski, also of the MdFF and the newly renovated Parkway Theatre.
While the market for video rentals has taken a beating since streaming services like Netflix have allowed us to avoid making any and all human contact, video stores in other cities—even ones similar in size to Baltimore—are still chugging along, such as Four-Star Video Cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin, or Vulcan Video in Austin, Texas, both of which are collective or family owned.
Film rental stores can be a community forum, a place where people come to learn and talk to other film lovers, argues Tropea, who also curates 2640 Space's documentary series.
"One of my favorite directors is Robert Downey Sr., so Robert Downey Jr.'s dad. He has this film called 'Greaser's Palace,' which i found out about because of the staff picks shelf at Video Americain," he says over coffee.
Since the closure of the last Video Americain store in 2014—5 out of 6 collective members worked at Video Americain at one point or another—Baltimore has been without a place to rent films. The Baltimore Video Collective's collection of nearly 5,000 DVD and Blu-ray titles is currently sitting in a storage locker, ready to be watched.
The benefit at New America starts at 9 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m., which is plenty of time to get boozed up and sentimental, and kick in a few bucks for that time your local film store clerk turned you on to "The Holy Mountain."