BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Filmmakers and others in town for Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will tour the historic Lincoln Theatre in Bessemer.
The historic theatre is being restored to its old glory.
The theatre opened for African American audiences in 1948 but closed in the late 1960s or early 1970s. After being closed for all those decades, going inside is like going back in time.
“Part of the magic of the theatre is some of the original projection equipment is still inside,” said Mary Holland, Founding Member of the Lincoln Holland Project.
You can also find old movie reels.
“It appears that once the theatre closed, the owner just locked up and walked away,” explained Holland.
In 2017, Holland's son bought the theatre. Andre Holland is an actor who has been in several films, including "Selma" and "42." He's currently in France filming the Netflix series "The Eddy."
"I'm told he's a pretty big deal, but I just see him as my son," said Mary Holland, who is helping lead the effort to bring the Lincoln Theatre back to life.
"No matter where he is, he owns Bessemer and McCalla as his hometown," Holland explained.
The plan is to eventually show first run movies and turn the theatre into a performing arts center.
Glenny Brock is a Project Consultant for the Lincoln project. She was involved in restoring the Lyric Theatre and saw first hand the transformation it had on downtown Birmingham. She believes the Lincoln will have the same impact.
"I just feel this is going to be something extraordinary for Bessemer," said Brock.
The community is also getting involved in the restoration. Up to 30 volunteers, many of them from the Bessemer Historical Society, showed up last weekend to help in the cleanup.
Next month, the Sidewalk Film Festival is bringing its Filmmaker Retreat to the Lincoln. That means more than 100 filmmakers will tour the theatre.
“The filmmakers we interact with, really want to see the art of film thrive no matter the size of the community,” said Chloe Cook, Executive Director of Sidewalk Film Festival. “So we think they’re going to be really interested in the restoration effort here and what access to the arts a new facility would facilitate here in Bessemer.”
Sidewalk Film Festival is Aug. 19 - 25. Cook said the filmmakers will be in Bessemer on Aug. 23.