While it is at first disconcerting to be showing an indie documentary in a private second floor screening room of an eight screen multiplex movie theater on a Saturday night, it becomes very logical and comfortable soon enough. The Rehoboth Beach Film Society has a strong membership and an active following composed of year-round residents of this tasteful and classy resort town of Delaware. The organization’s director Sue Early, also involved in their annual film festival where Cafeteria Man was screened a year and a half ago, hosted the screening and introduced me to a gathering of about 30 devoted audience members. They were about 50-65 years old and highly educated types and almost all knew each other.
The aftermath discussion was vibrant. Whether still working or retired, these folks were incredibly insightful and progressive citizens who care deeply about improving the town they live in. They loved the film and wanted to share it with others, including the local school board, in hopes of getting their community activated in school food reform efforts.
It was a warm and affectionate reception with much humor and mutual appreciation. I don’t think I’ve ever been so verbally thanked for making Cafeteria Man. They really “got” the message and some were particularly moved by the children in the film who can be seen in moments of epiphany around food awareness. One person remarked: “I think we all need to be a little like Tony Geraci in whatever we do.” To that I say “Amen!”
Being present at a screening of a film that one has made has a powerful effect. It closes a feedback loop and informs the maker of the impact and efficacy of the project. Nothing could be more gratifying than to see the end product consumed, appreciated and understood. And the occasional glimpse of the film’s ability to encourage or provoke activism is a huge bonus.
It is a privilege to be able to participate in these conversations about making the world a better place.