Before frolicking to spend the holiday with friends and family, let’s partake in the seasonal tradition of giving thanks, from a movie-obsessed perspective.

1.  The ever-expanding VOD market

I came of age as a film-lover in the era of VHS, so I’ve never had to grapple with a scarcity of film-viewing options, but even so there’s a Grand Canyon-sized chasm between the way I watched films as a kid and the undiluted access we have to film now. Whereas in the past, if I wanted to catch an indie film or under-the-radar foreign offering, there’d be a good chance I’d find myself driving three hours roundtrip to Chicago or Madison to do so. The fact that so many independent films find their way to VOD services or make their way to Netflix after their initial bows, means the discussion surrounding these films has become a global one. Granted, this more or less destroyed the concept of the video store (although Riverwest Film & Video survives!) which is something I don’t think has properly been eulogized as of yet, but even so it allows for film lovers to immerse themselves in an education that will mean even more film polymaths making their own movies with a nearly unlimited supply of examples to eschew or follow. It also allows me to do things like recommend a Netflix double feature this Thanksgiving of The House of Yes and Planes, Trains and Automobiles – two films that have little in common beyond their holiday setting but are immediately accessible to those interested in taking the plunge. This is a time of incredible plenty for film lovers, and we should all be thankful for it.

2.  The reopening of the Avalon Theater

There was a time not so long ago when the future of the Times Cinema remained in flux, and it seemed like the Oriental, Downer and UWM Union would be the only options to take in a movie in Milwaukee. Flash forward to this winter, the Times is alive and well and in only a handful of days we’ll have yet another option available to us. The Bay View-located Avalon Theater is celebrating its grand reopening with a soft opening scheduled for Monday, Dec. 15 through Wednesday, Dec. 17. It will feature special screenings of The Hobbit trilogy along with tours of the renovated space and an oral history booth where you can share your stories about the Avalon. More information, including pricing information, can be obtained by emailing Welcome back, Avalon.

3.  The Milwaukee Film Festival

It’s the crown jewel of our local film going experience, it appears to get better with each passing year, so of course I’m thankful for the diverse filmmaking brought to our doorstep for two weeks every year. But even more exciting is Milwaukee Film’s commitment to expanding the breadth of their programming statement, bolstered by ever-increasing attendance and one of the highest membership rates of any festival in the country, with a vision toward the festival being a year-round concern that aims to further bring together the Milwaukee-based film making community. To that end, Milwaukee Film brought in Rebecca Campbell, the executive director of the Austin Film Society, to discuss the long and winding journey toward prominence all with the end goal of promoting film business alongside film culture. Campbell discussed the differences between our two markets, helping to make our strategic weaknesses seem like unique opportunities – positing that our lack of infrastructure and state-offered incentives for filmmakers means we have little competition and can focus on cultivating indigenous filmmakers. Future events of this nature strengthen the local film community and prove an exciting development in the evolution of Milwaukee Film.

And finally….

4. Readers of Moviegoers

Whether you were tricked into visiting our little corner of the web with “YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHICH STARS USED THIS WEIGHT LOSS TRICK” or you are genuinely interested in local film opinions, thank you for reading. As the local film scene becomes even more enthralling, I hope our coverage of it will follow the same trajectory.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.