Yesterday, I wrote a blog post on last night's screening of "Forks Over Knives," a documentary that promotes a plant-based diet to cure or reverse illnesses, at the State Theatre. The event, which included a healthy pre-screening dinner, health fair, and a question-and-answer session with Dr. Pam Popper, one of the experts interviewed in the film, was a fundraiser for the State Theatre. I was running a little late to the film last night, and I was expecting that as usual, I would be able to breeze right in, buy my ticket and get seated. I was totally astonished when I passed by the theater and saw a line almost a block long! The screening sold out!! As a State Theatre volunteer and regular patron, I know that is so incredibly rare. Kathy Pollard, a local nutrition educator who organized the event, just informed me that the event raised $2,520 in dinner tickets and $5,200 in ticket sales for a total of $7,722! That certainly eases the load for the State Theatre, which has been struggling with paying off debts. Along with the hiring of Harry Zimbler as its new executive director, it also helps the theater start the new year off with a bang!
It seems to me that documentaries on hot-button issues really seem to draw crowds to the State Theatre. I recently saw "Inside Job," a documentary that examines the role of Wall Street executives and the federal government in the financial crisis, and that seems to have also made an impression on local audiences. Next week, the State Theatre will be showing "Waiting for Superman," a documentary by Davis Gugggenheim that examines the failures of the American public school system by following several students through the educational system. That film has generated a lot of buzz, and in a town as education-focused as State College, i expect that it will draw large crowds and provoke some intense discussions.
I thought that "Forks Over Knives" was an informative yet also engaging film that made a strong case for adopting a plant-based diet. As I wrote in my previous post, a documentary can present a valid viewpoint, but it is not infallible. I have no doubt that switching to a plant-based diet from a typical American diet heavy in processed foods and saturated fats will produce positive changes in health for just about everyone, but I wouldn't jump on the bandwagon and declare that all meat and dairy are bad. I think that the value of documentaries like "Forks Over Knives" is that they can jumpstart discussions in communities about these issues. And yeah, sometimes you've got to present an extreme message to get people to make any type of changes. It's like saying that you should exercise seven days a week, when it might actually turn out to be three or four. Some people might do better by adopting a complete lifestyle makeover, while others might be more successful by making small, gradual changes. I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet and health. But the people in the audience who stayed around after the film asked Dr. Popper some intelligent, challenging questions. People in this community obviously care about their health and are proactive about seeking knowledge, but they don't seem to accept any single philosophy without question.
If you have any ideas about documentaries (or any other films) you would like to see at the State Theatre, you can contact me at email@example.com. I'm not saying that I have a lot of leverage, but as a member of the State Theatre Film Collective, I can at least pass the word along. it would be totally awesome if the same people who attended last night's screening would continue to support the theater. Thank you to all who attended!