Alice in Groceryland

Inside the Needler’s Fresh Market on N. New Jersey St. downtown Indy shoppers picked and scanned their Thursday evening provisions. 

Outside an October cold front was descending upon the adjacent courtyard, sounding an early winter warning as a band of culture-minded individuals assembled their projector, screen, keyboards, as burgers grilled, and coffee brewed for a night of sharing in community, music and film.

Caldwell and Tester add a spontaneous sound to the film. Photo by Ron Hanson.

Said the white rabbit. 

Big Car Collaborative hosted Lockerbie Movie Night that featured Czech director Jan Švanmajer’s stop animation feature “Alice.” The 1988 film written and directed by Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer was featured and accompanied by a live score from local artists Landon Caldwell and Mark Tester.

Caldwell and Tester’s live blend of spontaneous composition and experimentation fit seamlessly into Švankmajer’s darkly loose interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” 

Big Car’s mission statement states: We bring art to people, and people to

Damien Center volunteer Grace S. hands out a pamphlet to a guest. Photo by Ron Hanson.

art, sparking creativity in lives to support communities. The 17-year-old non-profit led by Big Car Collaborative Director of Operations Carlie Foreman uses art and culture for creative community-building events.

“We were hired by Citimark, who owns Needler’s, to activate this space and bring music during lunchtime, food trucks,” Foreman said.

Volunteers from the Damien Center kept an information table and Boxburger food truck offered sandwiches and sides. Some moviegoers found additional eats at Needler’s that were welcomed without the scorn of typical movie houses in the open-air theater.

Showtime temps dipped into the low 50s, but it did not discourage the more than 30 moviegoers of all ages, including Herron School of Art Coordinator of Visual Art Graduate Programs, Dawn Holder, who supports Big Car’s initiative.

“I really believe in supporting community art and I like to get involved

Herron’s Dawn Holder shares a pre-movie dinner with Chris Carrier. Photo by Ron Hanson.

in making connections, and this is just a wonderfully fun event,” Holder said.

“Alice” was a pleasant October surprise as the city continues to feel the effects of last year’s riots, and all things COVID. 

The part live-action, part stop-animation film lent a good Halloween spookiness for kids with its once alive, now taxidermized characters animating their way through the story while offering ample adult interest that paired well with the smattering of reds and whites that had made their way to the courtyard from Needler’s wine selection.

Lockerbie Movie Night was not Big Car’s first event at Needler’s Market and is merely an addition to their ongoing mission.

“We have done a few evening events. We did a night market this year which also had live music,” Foreman said.

Big Car’s offices are located in Garfield Park where they keep an exhibit space called “The Tube Factory” that includes the coffee shop, Normal Coffee. Big Car also operates WQRT 99.1 FM a non-commercial radio station that focuses on contemporary art and music. 

Thursday’s movie night was the last outdoor event for the season. Big Car limits activities and events during the winter. 

Big Car Collaborative’s Lockerbie Movie Night was a peaceful finish to their community-building season in this year two of our pandemic. A pandemic that will, hopefully, be a fading memory when Foreman and company once again drop by for an evening of art and community. 

Said the white rabbit.

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