"We think of a microcinema as an intimate movie-going experience where you can really experience the film with other people and then have the opportunity to discuss and digest that film afterwards with others or the people you came with," Baraba says. "Our primary goal is going to be to get some really awesome programming in there to give St. Louisans access to movies that don’t come through the city or really even the Midwest. This is going to be an experience you can’t really get anywhere else in the city."
With a shared passion for film, Watson and Baraba were inspired to open Arkadin after researching similar concepts across the country. Both St. Louis natives, the couple lived in Washington, D.C. for almost five years before moving back home in 2018. During their time in D.C., they were frequent patrons of Suns Cinema, a microcinema that helped influence Arkadin. While developing Arkadin, the couple worked with the owners of Suns and also The Film Lab in Hamtramck, Michigan to refine their concept and learn more about the industry.
In addition to his full-time career as an attorney, Watson has been a freelance film critic for the past four years, including reviewing movies for Slant Magazine for the past few years. Earlier this year, he covered the Jeonju International Film Festival in South Korea for the publication. With Arkadin, he and Baraba hope to curate movies, film series and festivals not currently screened in St. Louis.
"The size of it creates both an intimate atmosphere and logistically allows you to show things that maybe have a more niche audience since you’re not having to fill up a big theater," Watson says. "The plan is not to do week-long runs of a movie — we’re pretty much doing one-off showings — so you can show things that are maybe targeted toward more of a niche audience. Our plan is to do a lot of series type programming; one example is a 'Filmed in St. Louis' series, showing movies that were actually filmed in St. Louis."
"It’s probably one of his more obscure films — I think there’s maybe eight different versions floating out there — and there’s not really a definitive cut of it," Watson says. "It wasn’t really released in a normal way, as was the case with many of his films. It stars Orson Welles as an international powerful man of mystery who’s adopted this name that he created for himself, Arkadin. We liked the sense of mystery about it and that it also had the feel of an old movie house but with a more modern twist. We both really like Orson Welles a lot, as well, so it was a little bit of a tribute."
"Everybody seems really excited about it and bringing something new into the neighborhood," Baraba says. "And everyone we’ve spoken to has really had great ideas for programming, so I’m really just excited to get open and see what ideas people have and what we can give to people. There’s such an interest in film in St. Louis, and I just would love to be that venue that gives people access to these movies they want to see in a theater setting."
To keep updated on Arkadin's progress, follow the theater on Twitter.
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