a hare-brained scheme


Modern Film Fest at The Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, NC.

Modern Film Fest started in 2009 as a way for filmmaker Michael Knox to screen his first documentary, "Tearing Down the Tent." He told this to his colleague, Ben McNeely, who immediately said, "I've got the perfect place for it."

Conversations ensued, ideas explored. They needed a theater to host the event: The Gem Theatre in Kannapolis. The showcase of the Towel City for decades, The Gem is an old-style moviehouse where generations of area residents have gone to see first-run films.

Though it only has one screen, it also has 900 seats and a balcony -- something that is unheard of in modern movie theaters. The Gem Theatre, because of its unqiueness, was the only place to hold the film festival.

Michael and Ben talked with the general manager of The Gem Theatre, Steve Morris, and told them their idea.

"So let me get this straight: You want me to open up my theatre, sell popcorn and get out of your way?" he said.

"Yeah," Michael and Ben said.

"OK," Steve said.

And a film festival was born. Michael and Ben went to work, recruiting films and volunteers to help them with their cause.

In five short months, Modern Film Fest came together and debuted on Sept. 25, 2009. The community responded with intrigue. So we did it again in 2010 and now we're planning for our third year.

People keep asking, "Are you hosting the film festival again?"

Yes. Yes we are. This year's festival is scheduled for the first weekend in October. We hope to keep producing Modern Film Fest for Kannapolis, Cabarrus County and the Charlotte metro region for many years to come.