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Flicks on the Bricks returns with ‘Screwball Sparring Matches’

Flicks on the Bricks is an outdoor film series presented by Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
Flicks on the Bricks is an outdoor film series presented by Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla.
(Lidia Rossner)

Hosted by Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, the annual film series returns to La Jolla after a yearlong hiatus

After more than a year of streaming movies alone at home, many San Diegans are eager to get off their couches and (safely) connect with one another again — and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library hopes to provide that opportunity.

The La Jolla library, one of the oldest cultural institutions in San Diego, brings back its annual outdoor film series this month. Coined Flicks on the Bricks, the event invites locals to watch movies on its open-air patio, in an effort to connect with both the arts and each other.

This event launched in 2008 as a wine tasting/film screening affair and operated in this fashion until 2016. But according to event organizer Lidia Rossner, communications and engagement director at the Athenaeum, this elevated concept carried a high price point.

So in 2017, Rossner says they decided to refresh Flicks on the Bricks to make the event more approachable.

“We started focusing more on curating the films and opening up to newer, younger audiences,” Rossner says, noting changes like reduced ticket prices and making refreshments available for purchase.

To curate the revamped series, Rossner invited KPBS film critic Beth Accomando to serve as the evening’s presenter. In addition to choosing the movies, Accomando brings her in-depth knowledge of the medium to the stage, sharing trivia and providing insight for each film.

Last year, the Athenaeum decided to cancel its annual affair rather than present it virtually. Rossner says the Athenaeum’s moderately sized projector screen and average sound system isn’t trying to replicate a traditional cinema experience, or even compete with advanced at-home setups. During these outdoor screenings, people often stroll past on the sidewalk; sometimes alarms from nearby parked cars go off.

What Flicks on the Bricks does offer, though, is something many locals have been craving lately: a sense of belonging.

“It’s a social space — people can come by themselves ... it’s OK to be alone and come here and be part of this community,” Rossner says.

This year’s theme is “Best Screwball Sparring Matches,” referencing the light-hearted fights common to 1930s screwball comedy movie genre. Accomando, who returns as the event’s presenter, purposely pitched a genre that strays from the past noir focus of Flicks on the Bricks.

"(Accomando) thought, ‘Let’s just focus on comedy, just because of what people have gone through’ ... we decided this year to stick with something light,” Rossner says, referencing the hardships many San Diegans faced during the pandemic.

The three films are “His Girl Friday” (Aug. 12), with a plot that centers on a newspaper editor fighting to keep his best reporter/ex-wife; “Twentieth Century” (Aug. 19), which primarily takes place on a train from Chicago to New York City; and “It Happened One Night” (Aug. 26), one of the only films to win all five major Academy Awards.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and guests are encouraged to arrive early to claim seats. The 90-person venue will restrict each screening to 70 guests. In addition to wine and beer for purchase, the 21-and-up event offers complimentary popcorn and chips; there will also be prizes and giveaways.

The screening starts once the sun sets, at approximately 8 p.m. While waiting for the show to start, guests are encouraged to socialize, grab drinks and peruse the library and art exhibitions, including a solo exhibit from 104-year-old San Marcos artist Sue Whitman titled “Gallery 336" on display from Aug. 14 to Sept. 11.

Flicks on the Bricks

When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12, 19 and 26

Where: Athenaeum outdoor patio, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla

Tickets: $39 (series) or $15 (individual screening) for members; $54 (series) or $20 (individual screening) for nonmembers

Phone: (858) 454-5872

Online: ljathenaeum.org/flicks


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