This Saturday, Dec.15, marks the 2018 installment of Holiday Happenings, an annual Christmas-themed movie event presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design and benefiting the local branch of America’s Second Harvest Food Bank.
It’s a chance to see up to three beloved holiday classics on the big screen of Trustees Theater, one of the nicest and largest movie palaces within several hundred miles. Best of all, all that’s required for admission is that you bring and donate at least one can of non-perishable food per film, which will be distributed to needy folks in our immediate area.
If all goes as planned, thousands of cans of food will be collected in a matter of just a few hours. That can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those who are struggling during this time of year, and hundreds of audience members of all ages will enjoy some timeless motion pictures as they were meant to be seen.
In advance of this year’s event, I spoke with Caitlin DePue Wallace, the current Artistic Manager for both the Trustees and Lucas theaters, as well as for the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.
DO: What can you tell me about the impetus behind offering this entertainment option every year? Can you speak a bit about the school’s interest in finding creative ways to assist local charitable organizations such as Second Harvest?
WALLACE: What could be better than having a holiday tradition of going to see seasonal films at Trustees Theater? It’s one of the theater staff’s favorite annual events. We thoroughly enjoy opening our doors to the Savannah community so that they may enjoy classic holiday film fare. But providing this reliable entertainment option is only part of the equation. Partnering with Second Harvest is just another way of giving back to the community that supports Trustees Theater all year long. We want to demonstrate SCAD’s commitment to Savannah by supporting a non-profit that helps make this a better and more equitable city.
DO: Who selected the films which are being shown this year, and what was that selection process like? What were the criteria in choosing the films?
WALLACE: Selecting the films was a collective effort on the part of the Trustees Theater staff. Together we reviewed which titles we had screened in the past three to four years so that we continue to offer variety and don’t repeat films we’ve shown recently. It’s not an easy selection process, as we all have our favorites. We offer three films on the same day to cater to our various audiences: a shorter kid-friendly film in the morning that families with children of all ages can attend; a popular, more contemporary film in the afternoon; and then the evening is always reserved for a timeless classic, like this year’s “Miracle on 34th Street.” Mickey Mouse just celebrated his 90th birthday, so screening “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” in the morning is our way of saluting everyone’s favorite mouse. We also consider which films may be fun to see on the big screen. This will be the first time we are showing the stop-motion animated feature “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” We are genuinely excited about all of this and hope students and the community alike will attend.
DO: What size audiences do you normally see for the Holiday Happenings shows and how many folks do you expect to attend this year?
WALLACE: Every year we welcome over 600 guests throughout the day. We have been heavily promoting these particular films on social media, so we are hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.
DO: For people who have never attended any of these holiday films at Trustees Theater, how would you describe the environment? Are the crowds usually merry and enthusiastic?
WALLACE: This time of year, the holiday-spirit can be felt up and down Broughton Street, and Trustees Theater during Holiday Happenings is no exception. We decorate the theater, pass out candy canes, and the whole place is brewing with merry crowds. Families, young adults, and people of all ages come out to enjoy these films. We have some guests who stay all day long to enjoy all three screenings, and we love that! It’s a very festive atmosphere.
DO: How is seeing a film at Trustees Theater a different sort of experience from attending one of the areas standard corporate multiplexes?
WALLACE: The Trustees Theater is a beautiful historical venue updated with all modern conveniences, including assisted listening devices and wheelchair seating. Built in 1946, this restored theater truly takes your breath away upon entering. It seats 1,100 guests, which makes it larger than your average multiplex theater, and it features state-of-the-art technology to deliver a true cinematic experience.
DO: Do you have a particular personal favorite of the films which are being shown this year?
WALLACE: I grew up in a household that loved all things Disney, so “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” has always been a staple in my home. With three short films included in that feature, you get to see all the fan-favorites: Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck and even Scrooge McDuck. That film brings back many happy memories of my childhood celebrating the holidays.
DO: Finally, what would you say to try and convince someone who has never attended this event in the past to catch one or more of these holiday films this year?
WALLACE: Attending the Holiday Happenings event is more than just watching a movie. It’s a collective experience where everyone in the theater is buzzing with holiday spirit! Savannah comes together to enjoy three beloved films, all while supporting Second Harvest – which gives back to the community as well. It truly is a great way to spend the day with your family during the holiday season. There is something for everyone and we hope you can attend!