It is hard to convey to you in this day and age the allure the Belcourt Theatre had for me in my youth. Sitting with dignity a block back from the head shops, boutiques and the already overrated Pancake Pantry, the Belcourt offered movies that you would never see in Green Hills or Belle Meade, much less Clarksville.
While it was true music was emerging as a cultural force in town, Hillsboro Village was the only place where you could find students, hippies, pickers and soldiers from Fort Campbell mixing with the neighbors. Predictably, I saw Woodstock and The Harder They Come at the Belcourt, but I have vivid memories of sneaking in to see The Boys In The Band, Carnal Knowledge and Bob, Ted, Carol and Alice, which were considered near-porn experiences then.
I remember long lines and cold weather waiting to get in to Valley Of The Dolls and Pretty Baby… mood enhancing outside with friends to keep warm. Decorum doesn’t allow for much discussion about what went on during the movies in those days, but the crowds were young and spirited. Like Printer’s Alley, the Belcourt and its films earned a bit of notoriety on Sunday mornings which, only as you can imagine, made it more attractive. With the Belcourt’s help and the influx of more people, Hillsboro Village was soon the center of change in Nashville’s culture wars.
The notoriety was the allure. Hillsboro Village was the hub of activity that signaled you were a part of the community of change. It is hard to explain how dramatic and sudden that change happened, but literally overnight people were dressing different, talking different and the theatre was at the center of it.
While the sixties didn’t come to middle Tennessee until the seventies, the Belcourt helped introduce the films that were to become icons to me and my friends and help inform our awareness and compassion.
To this day I cannot pass that building without the fondest of memories… and I will donate $100.00 on her behalf, and challenge everyone that ever saw a movie or stole a kiss or even embraced the notion that art is inspiring and went on to improve tolerance and compassion in my favorite city in the world to do the same.
- Bill Bennett
nD Festival is a fundraiser that directly supports the Belcourt’s education and engagement programs, with special events and parties celebrating indie film, fashion and music.
With your purchase of nD tickets, you help make it possible for the Belcourt to provide post-film discussions and Q&As, film symposiums, and community collaborations with organizations like the Martha O’Bryan Center and the Oasis Center.
This year’s nD Festival kicked off with a Preview Party and is followed by three days of events, September 28-30. See a full description of the events and get your tickets here.