GoodCinema In The News
This Denver Startup Wants You to Talk in the Movie Theater
We’ve all seen or read about traumatic events or issues and wondered how we can help; but it isn’t a simple task to find the best organization, fundraiser or nonprofit.
Whether it’s a thought-provoking or timely video on Facebook or a documentary film, we’ve all thought or asked, ‘How can I help?’
One Denver startup is looking to shake up the documentary film model, encouraging educated discussion on social and emotional issues in post-movie panel discussions that identify ways to help.
As an avid documentary film watcher, Bill Byrnes often found himself wondering how he could get involved in issues.
“I was asking, ‘what can I do?”’ he said.
In a quest to answer that question for himself and others, Byrnes launched GoodCinema, a startup that brings together documentary films with local subject matter experts, in Denver last year.
GoodCinema’s model is designed to drive action in the community. Customers watch thought-provoking films, engage in open dialogue with a panel of experts and are told how they can act to support local causes. Tickets typically cost between $15 and $20 and events are billed for three hours.
Byrnes said GoodCinema gets people off of the couch or out from behind the computer and shows them concrete ways to help.
“What better way than to bring people together, to give them more information, more context, more connections and then show them a better path forward,” he said. “Whether that be internally, with things they can do to change themselves in their lives, or externally to be able to volunteer, donate or sign a petition. Rather than slacktivism, like posting on Facebook.”
Since launching in August 2018, GoodCinema has hosted nine events on a host of topics, from housing and immigrant detention to happiness and paid family leave. Byrnes said they’ve averaged about 150 attendees per event, with a host of repeat customers.
The startup has capitalized on buzzworthy issues, hosting an event in late-March centered around psychedelics, just before Denver voted on decriminalizing magic mushrooms in May.
Despite the initial success, Byrnes didn’t always intend to launch his own business, having earned a degree in hospitality with an eye towards bars and restaurants.
“I enjoy working and connecting with people, but I found that I need some purpose attached to things,” he said.
GoodCinema recently graduated from the 2019 Creative Startups Accelerator in Albuquerque, which is sponsored by Meow Wolf. The program is designed for creative oriented startups trying to achieve scale.
Byrnes said the accelerator helped him better identify his target customers, competition and potential partnership opportunities as the company scales.
As GoodCinema builds out its roster of future events, Byrnes said finding and programming films has become easier. He sees GoodCinema as an outlet for documentary filmmakers to showcase their work.
“Many of these impact films that are created don’t have the money and resources behind them to have a big distribution. Because of that, people aren’t seeing the films that matter,” he said. “We want to help be a conduit for filmmakers to not only show their films to an audience that cares, but help them drive the impact that was intended.”
Byrnes said he’s building a repeatable framework, similar to what TEDx has done, to spread the GoodCinema model across the country.
“We’re building a movement and we’re building a community,” he said.
For more on GoodCinema, including upcoming events, check out their website here.
GoodCinema to Discuss Paid Family Leave in Colorado
February 12, 2019
GoodCinema, a Denver startup that brings together documentary films with local subject matter experts, is hosting an event to discuss paid family leave in Colorado featuring the film Zero Weeks. Created by award-winning director Ky Dickens, Zero Weeks explores why America is one of only two countries in the world without a paid leave law and how such a law would benefit both families and businesses. Following the film, there will be an interactive discussion with leaders from local nonprofit organizations working to pass paid family leave legislation in Colorado.
Paid Family Leave is an important topic in Colorado given 88% of Coloradans don’t get paid leave when caring for a seriously ill family member, recovering from an illness, or welcoming a new baby. Last year the FAMLI Act (HB18) was introduced to implement a statewide family and medical leave insurance program for Coloradans. The bill passed in the Colorado House but didn’t make it through the Senate. With Democrats now controlling the statehouse, advocates for paid family leave believe a new version of the bill could get passed this year.
“Paid family leave, or the lack thereof in Colorado, has a major impact on adults, children, families, and businesses. We hope this event opens people’s eyes to the issue surrounding family leave and inspires them to get involved,” said Bill Byrnes, GoodCinema Founder. “We have a great panel that will help audience members understand the local nuances of this issue and what’s being done to change the situation here in Colorado.”
The film will be followed by a panel discussion that will include Ashley Panelli, paid leave organizer for 9to5 Colorado, Karla Gonzales Garcia, policy coordinator for Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Debra Brown, executive director of Good Business Colorado, and Kris Garcia with 9to5, a worker that was unable to take paid leave to care for her premature infant and sick father.
The event will take place on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 from 6 PM - 9 PM at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Sloans Lake. Advance general admission tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased at https://goodcinema.co/. RSVP for the event and live stream updates at https://www.facebook.com/events/1374592849349634/
Here, there, everywhere
Denver-based nonprofit startup GoodCinema, which pairs documentary films with expert commentators, is kicking off the new year with a Jan. 15 screening and panel discussion at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Sloan’s Lake featuring the 2010, social-consciousness film “I AM.”
But even if you can’t attend the 6 p.m. screening in-person, GoodCinema’s new media partner, Gaia, is planning to stream the film on its website, and the ensuing panel discussion with Colorado-based experts will be streamed via Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Note: Watching the film via Gaia requires online registration, but includes a free, 14-day trial (so be sure to cancel it if you don’t want to pay after a couple of weeks). 4255 W. Colfax Ave. Tickets: $15-$20.
January 9, 2019
Click the link above to access the recorded interview.
GoodCinema and Gaia Team Up to Offer Free Streaming Services for Kick-Off Event
January 8, 2019
GoodCinema, a Denver startup that brings together documentary films with subject matter experts from the Denver area, has teamed up with Gaia, the global conscious media company, to offer exclusive, free streaming services for GoodCinema’s January screening of the documentary film, I AM. This streaming service will allow people to watch the film live from wherever they are in the world. The subsequent discussion with Colorado-based experts will be streamed globally via Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
In addition to offering free streaming of I AM, Gaia’s Director of Sales, Rett Kearbey, will participate in the panel discussion and offer all GoodCinema attendees a free 2-week trial to Gaia’s library of more than 8,000 original tv shows, inspiring films, yoga practices, and meditations.
“We are excited to kick off the new year by partnering with Gaia to support our first event. Their mission of fueling a more conscious life made them a perfect fit for this film,” said Bill Byrnes, GoodCinema Founder. “We look forward to supplementing our live event with streaming services so more people around the world can participate in a GoodCinema event without being physically present.”
GoodCinema is starting the new year with I AM because it is an uplifting film which explores human connectivity and how we make the world a better place. After the film there will be a panel discussion that will include Bill Byrnes, founder of GoodCinema, Sarah Jackson, founder of Casa de Paz, Danny Mazur, founder of Soul Stories, Carlyn Shaw, founder of Strangers to Friends, and Rett Kearbey, Director of Sales for Gaia. The event takes place on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 from 6 PM – 9 PM at Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake. Advance tickets are $15.00 and can be purchased at https://goodcinema.co/. RSVP for event and live stream updates at https://facebook.com/events/305169840103380/.
Things We Love This Month
November 1, 2018 | Denver Life Magazine
Man can’t live by blockbuster alone. That’s the idea behind GoodCinema, a documentary film series recently launched in Denver. Founder Bill Byrnes, believing that film can help connect people and “tap into our humanity,” selects movies that deal with an important topic, like immigrant detention, and includes a panel discussion to get the audience even more involved. For the next event, visit goodcinema.co.
Connecting humanity through film — that’s GoodCinema’s motto. By providing a place for people to discuss issues facing our country the local company — founded by Bill Byrnes — has goals of spreading that motto worldwide.
Byrnes and his wife would watch a documentary with their friends each week. They called this get-together “Documentary Night,” which led Byrnes to found GoodCinema. Byrnes was inspired by the conversations he and his friends would after each documentary. Hoping to spread his fire to others — Byrnes made the decision to found his company.
“Lines can be drawn politically, ideologically, racially, geographically. I feel that the one thing that transcends that is our humanity,” said Byrnes.
GoodCinema originally started with the name MediCinema — thinking that the medicine we need is to create a dialogue between people. Byrnes discovered that that name was already taken by an organization in the United Kingdom. Byrnes said, “GoodCinema just rang as something that works.”
GoodCinema is currently in the middle of a social justice trilogy spread over three months. Two screenings have already happened on August 7 and September 11, with its final film Crown Heights at the Alamo Drafthouse happening on October 16. Crown Heights tells the story of an 18-year-old wrongfully convicted of murder and his friend who dedicates his life to free him.
This screening will be the final film of GoodCinema’s three-part social justice series — but this one is special. GoodCinema will be giving a call to action. By asking people to write emails to Governor Hickenlooper asking for clemency for people wrongly convicted in Colorado.
“The goal is to really grow this thing, ideally, worldwide. I feel like GoodCinema is more than just an event or a brand or a business it’s really a movement of connecting people again. Getting people face to face again. Having real conversations and learning from one another and using this medium of film to understand things at a deeper level. Ultimately to gain more empathy,” said Byrnes
GoodCinema’s screening of Crown Heights is this Tuesday, October 16. Tickets are $15. To stay up to date about what GoodCinema is up to and future events connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or on its website.
Connecting Humanity Through Film: Cinema That’s Good for You
Martina Will de Chaparro | October 1, 2018 | Front Porch NE Denver
Late-night comedians poke fun at armchair activists emboldened by social media to “dislike” away their concerns, from the Syrian crisis to police brutality. With each “like” or “share,” we limply do our part with the click of a mouse from the security and anonymity of our couches. Bill Byrnes, a Five Points resident, challenges us to get off our sofas and screens and come together for meaningful face-to-face discussions about our most pressing social issues. He established GoodCinema in August to restore human connection and meaningful dialogue around these issues.
Byrnes seeks to reclaim some of our more polarized discussions from social media. He says “It seems a lot of our conversations have shifted online and lost their authenticity. Social media has become an echo chamber of hatred and vitriol; it’s created an empathy vacuum.”
GoodCinema does not have a political agenda, but seeks to “bring humanity back into the conversation” by creating a monthly forum for dialogue around (primarily documentary) film. At each event, people learn through viewing films but also speak with those most impacted by current events. Area professionals, educators, activists, and others share their stories as a way of bringing the issues to a local and a human level. To foster discourse, Byrnes freely shares his cell phone number so even shy audience members can text a question to guest speakers.
GoodCinema has hosted two film evenings, both of which sold out theaters of about 150 at the Sie FilmCenter. In September, Byrnes featured four short documentaries—national and local—on the topic of immigrant detention. A panel of experts and activists responded to audience questions and concerns after the screening. Although representing different walks of life and some diversity of viewpoints, the two lawyers, DACA recipient, faith-based activist, and City of Denver employee clearly agreed that immigrant detention is profoundly flawed.
Byrnes says he would like to include more divergent viewpoints in the future, but having an ICE official probably would have kept some attendees from feeling they were in a safe space. Still, many in the audience appeared well-versed in the detention issue, suggesting that for GoodCinema, fomenting deep dialogue will require bringing opposing voices and viewpoints into the room while maintaining a safe and open space for all. And isn’t that the very essence of a civil society?
Byrnes plans to host film screenings in different communities and theaters to promote both large and small community discussions and engage people to get involved. The next film, Crown Heights, is a feature based on a true story of wrongful incarceration, and will show at Alamo Drafthouse (Sloans Lake) on October 16. For more information, to buy tickets or inquire about sponsorships, go to GoodCinema.co.
Kyle Harris | September 6, 2018 | Westword
It’s been nearly twenty years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but wounds from that day still feel fresh, especially for the immigrants who have become even more demonized under the Trump administration. To mark the anniversary of the attacks and launch a dialogue in Denver about immigration policies, GoodCinema, a brand-new programming effort that “shows thought-provoking films as a vehicle for discussion around social issues with a clear call to action towards social change,” and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition will co-host Immigrant Detention Short Films on Tuesday, September 11, starting at 6:45 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. The program will include four short films that explore the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy at the U.S./Mexico border and the practice of detaining undocumented immigrants; after the screening, a panel of experts will lead the audience in a discussion about immigration policy. Tickets are $15 at eventbrite.com (search “GoodCinema”); find out more on GoodCinema’s Facebook page.
GoodCinema Puts Documentary Films to Work for Social Justice
GoodCinema hopes to spark change, one documentary at a time.
Officially launching tonight, August 7, with a viewing of The House I Live In at the Sie FilmCenter, the documentary screening series will show movies and host conversations with experts on social issues in Denver.
"The goal of GoodCinema is to increase engagement in the issues that affect our society through community discussion and action,” says founder of GoodCinema Bill Byrnes.
An avid lover of documentaries, Byrnes personally credits films Crown Heights and Where to Invade Next as inspirations. "Crown Heights tells a story of a man convicted of a crime he didn't commit in 1980, and how his friend on the outside fights for 21 years to have his conviction overturned," Byrnes says. "[The film] inspired me to fight for those that don't have a voice."
Fired up and ready for action, Byrnes looked for a platform to have meaningful discussions and enact change. He found options were lacking outside social media, which he notes is unproductive.
“Behind the veil of social media, opinions are blasted with personal attacks," Byrnes says. "It leads to people not wanting to engage in any sort of healthy discourse, opting to avoid uncomfortable subject matters all together."
With the creation of GoodCinema, Byrnes aims to create an open discussion on a grander scale. “Watching these documentaries made an impact in my own life, so I wanted to push that notion forward and effect positive change.”
The House I Live in, an award-winning documentary from Eugene Jarecki, examines the War on Drugs from a first-hand perspective, following the stories of police, dealers, politicians, and families caught in the middle.
“I wanted to start the series on the War on Drugs because it is the crux of so many issues in this country, including poverty, addiction, crime, and immigrants seeking asylum from dangerous drug cartels.”
The screening will follow with a discussion led by a selection of panelists who are directly tied to the issues within the scope of the Denver community.
“For each film, we want to gather a well-rounded panel of local community leaders. For our upcoming event, we have Art Way from the Drug Policy Alliance. We have a public defender who is working on reforming the money-bail system by way of the Colorado Freedom Fund. We also have Cody Boden – someone who was directly affected by the War on Drugs – who now works at Second Chance Center.” Mayoral candidate, Sexy Pizza owner and cannabis entrepreneur Kayvan Khalatbari is also on the bill.
The final pillar of GoodCinema is to take action. “When confronting social justice, a lot of people think the only answer is going into politics. However, we can pull people of various background and work together in our own communities as a way to elect change and uplift people.”
With panelists on-site, filmgoers have a direct line to donate and explore volunteer opportunities with various organizations. Opening these connections, Byrnes hopes that these screenings will build lasting change in the community.
In line with the theme of social justice for all, the following GoodCinema event will include a selection four short films on immigrants including Immigrant Prisons and Immigrants for Sale. Purposefully shown on September 11, Byrnes chose these films as a direct response to the current political climate.
“I have chosen to screen four short films about Immigrant Detention on September 11 – a day of patriotism often at the expense of intolerance – to shine a light on the way immigrants seeking a better life in the supposed 'land of opportunity' are treated by our government. As a country built by immigrants taking the land from Natives, I can think of nothing more hypocritical,” he says.
Moving forward, GoodCinema will pop up around the Denver area in order to bring a diverse audience into the conversation. Future film showings will shine a light on underrepresented communities with themes touching on poverty and women's issues.
Byrnes reflects on his experience as a white man: “I know that I have privilege, and at times, I've felt guilt. But instead of feeling guilt, I thought it was best to use my privilege to pull people up.”
GoodCinema presents The House I Live In, 7 p.m. August 7, Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80206, $15.
GoodCinema Brings Documentary Roundtables to Denver
GoodCinema, a Denver startup that brings together documentary films with subject matter experts, is launching at Denver’s Sie FilmCenter on August 7 with the award-winning documentary, The House I Live In.
The film, directed by Eugene Jarecki, examines the War on Drugs with first-hand accounts from people on the front lines. It also examines the societal impacts of a system that was initially built as a form of legal discrimination, and has since grown to become a political and economic machine at the expense of all Americans.
Following the film, the audience will be invited to join a discussion with a panel of four community leaders: Kayvan Khalatbari (Kayvan for Denver Mayor), Art Way (Drug Policy Alliance), Elisabeth Epps (Denver Justice Project), and Cody Boden (Second Chance Center). The discussion will focus on the impact of the War on Drugs, ways to repair the damage, and how to overhaul a system that infringes on personal liberties, exploits minorities, and treats drug abuse as a crime rather than a health issue.
GoodCinema presents thought-provoking documentary films that are applicable to Denver’s most pressing social justice issues. Each screening will be paired with a curated selection of guest speakers to engage the local audience in thoughtful discussions on actionable change.
Documentary films are a powerful medium to inspire people, but when you bring together an inclusive and diverse gathering, we can learn more from each other than the film itself, says Bill Byrnes. “By engaging in thoughtful discussion we can energize the community to build a critical mass motivated to effect positive change.”
Tickets ($15) and more information available at GoodCinema.co. For press inquiries, contact Bill Byrnes at email@example.com or 985-285-9998.