November 12, 2014 | The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations | Wilmington, DE
One of the wonderful things about the On Screen/In Person tour is the chance to get to know towns on the East Coast that I wouldn’t otherwise. Living in Brooklyn and having my mother in Washington, D.C. means that I often drive past Wilmington, DE., but until last week I had never stopped.
I drove down from Philadelphia in the early afternoon and arrived at my AirBnB in downtown Wilmington – a historical old home that has been renovated by a man named Joel. We chatted a little bit about the area – for example he told me that the government is selling downtown houses to artists for $1 as an attempt to continue the revitalization project of downtown and turn it into a cultural hub.
After settling in a bit I went out to do the two things I always do when I first get into a town – find the independent coffee shop and the independent bookstore. First stop Ninth Street Book Shop where I hoped to let them know about the screening the next day, and also to buy a few books since I had finished the one I brought with me. I chatted for a long while with the owner Gemma, who has owned the store with her husband for over 30 years. We talked about the struggle of small businesses and the difficulty in keeping open an independent bookstore, both these days and in a place like downtown Wilmington which is still trying to develop as a destination. And then she helped me pick out some wonderful new books.
Arriving at the Queen I was met by Tom the projectionist who helped me test the film. And I then met Tina who runs the Queen and Judy who helped organize and do outreach for the screening. We talked about the renovations of the Queen and similar challenges about nightlife in Wilmington and building a neighborhood where people come out to cultural events, which has been slow progress.
And then the screening began and a wonderful group of people came, including: a father with his son whose favorite book is The Phantom Tollbooth; and old friend of Norton Juster (author of The Phantom Tollbooth and the main character in the documentary) who had been his student in New York in the 70s; and my AirBnB host and his girlfriend! After the screening we had dinner together and talked and shared stories and even though I had just met these people it felt like old friends.
Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Hannah Jayanti.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.