Film series creates partnership with indie theater

For as long as he can remember, Dr. Chad Stebbins has heard people wish that Joplin would have its own independent cinema.

“Finally we have one in Bookhouse Cinema,” said Stebbins, director of Missouri Southern’s International of Studies. “They show so many films that we wouldn’t ordinarily see in Joplin.”

During the last few semesters, Missouri Southern has partnered with the small theater – owned by ’07 graduate Brad Crane and his wife, Holly – in ways that have given both parties a lot of creative freedom.

Last year, Missouri Southern split the Harrison and June Kash International Film Society screenings between Plaster Hall’s Cornell Auditorium and Bookhouse, located at 715 E. Broadway. The partnership continued this spring with “Bringing Them All Back Home.” The film series featured selections from MSSU faculty members, who offered presentations on each before the screenings.

Showing the films in an off-campus location comes with several attractive benefits.

“What’s nice about going to Bookhouse is they have a full- service restaurant that they open two hours beforehand so that you can get dinner and a drink before seeing the film,” Stebbins said. “That’s something that we don’t have the capability for in Cornell Auditorium.”

Crane says he enjoyed having faculty members offer insight before each of this semester’s screenings.

“A professor can come in and give a 30-minute lecture they’ve spent the last few weeks on,” he said. “They can link the work of one director to other works that director has done; they can provide the historical or the social context.”

Bookhouse began as a pipe-dream of an idealized “cinema and pub” in October of 2017, said Crane, and it’s grown significantly since its humble beginnings.

The Cranes managed to keep costs low in its early days by relying on thrifty, smart purchases. Some of the fixtures and furniture in the theater were acquired on a careful budget, and they applied the savings to a state-of-the-art digital projector and sound system.

Crane said he enjoys being able to offer audiences a unique movie-going experience.