When Ridgefield, Connecticut schoolteacher Valerie Jensen set out to transform an abandoned, 1930s-era single-screen movie theater into a modern multiplex a couple years ago, her primary goal was neither cinematic nor financial. Informed and influenced by growing up with a sister with Down syndrome, Jensen conceived of a business that would specifically train and hire adults with disabilities. With a colorful cast of unique personalities in the house, along with Bay Area native Kaveh Taherian’s camera, the four-screen Prospector Theater whirled to life. If you’re in the mood for a feel-good social-issue documentary, 25 Prospect Street is it.
That’s a rather aggressive claim, I confess, given 1) I’ve only seen the trailer for Taherian’s debut long-form doc and 2) 25 Prospect Street is unfinished. That’s the whole point, you see, of the Tuesday, May 23 screening at San Francisco's Ninth Street Independent Film Center in the ongoing Rough Cuts series, which invites the public to watch and constructively respond to a work in progress. The audience sees a free (version of a) documentary before anyone else, and the filmmaker gets valuable feedback about the film’s pacing, character development, emotional impact and, sometimes, the title.
Where’s the second-act dramatic conflict in such a heartwarming film, you ask? Jensen’s sister, Hope, isn’t particularly jazzed about hanging out with her, let alone working at the Prospector.
The reception begins at 7pm and 25 Prospect Street rolls at 7:30pm, followed by a discussion moderated by the astute Bay Area editor and director Gina Leibrecht (whose work with the late Les Blank resulted in All in This Tea and How to Smell a Rose: A Visit with Ricky Leacock in Normandy). Details here.