GoodCinema In The News
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 985-285-9998.