There she goes! The Siegen Village 10 cinema, the only cinema in town to play any independent and/or foreign films, is closing it’s doors to the public after the 7:45pm showing of Delta Farce tonight. This is but a symptom of the ugly disease that has permeated the area in the past 10 years. Before I left Baton Rouge for Knoxville, Tennessee in December of 1998 the culture of Baton Rouge was much different then. It was more progressive, almost slightly cosmopolitan compared to the Baton Rouge of today. Sure, we have the Shaw Center for the Arts but culture can not be limited to a few paintings and the occasional play and rare film festival. In 1998 when I left town there were two cinemas that ran independent films, Cinema 6 on Essen Lane and Siegen Village 10. Now we have none. The cancer of cultural diversity is eating this town alive!

Like Baton Rouge, Knoxville is a college town with their main focus on athletics. The Vol fans are every bit as rabid as the Tiger fans (maybe more so). Yet Knoxville supports a very nice independent film theater in the Regal Downtown West Cinema 8 which not only offers an excellent selection of independent/foreign films year round but also plays host to the annual Valley Fest Independent Film Festival. Currently the selection of films running at Downtown West include After the Wedding, Amazing Grace, Away From Her, In the Land of Women, and Offside, none of which can be seen in Baton Rouge.  It is hard for me to fathom but I strongly suspect Knoxville has a more diverse cultural climate than Baton Rouge, or at least the citizens of Knoxville have more diverse taste in films and are willing to pay to see them.

We can’t blame everything on the sister hurricanes of 2005. I would guess if anything that anomaly of nature and the Baton Rouge population increase that followed, would have brought more people of all entertainment genres to the area, even independent film fans. So I guess I must conclude there are even fewer people in Baton Rouge today that share my interests than there were in 1998. For whatever reason, most of them have left town. What a pity.

Well, as they say, you can never go home again. Life is change and the “home town” you remember does not exist 10 years later. But the Optimist in me was hopeful that I would find a better, more progressive Baton Rouge. I haven’t.

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