The Unglamorous Sixties: Cinema Bomar

The Unglamorous Sixties: Cinema Bomar

If you've been watching recent television premieres, you may have noticed that TV executives have packed their views into a DeLorean like it was a clown car and driven us all into a time warp. With such shows as NBC's The Playboy Club, ABC's Pan Am and a new season of AMC's powerhouse drama Madmen, the 1960s are back, and they've never looked better.

But beneath the glamor that these shows are trying to convey, there was a side to the '60s that felt like, at any moment, the world just might go to shit. This is the 1960s that Cinema Bomar will be giving you in its fall season, "Sixties Doc-Dystopias."

Running Cinema Bomar is the husband-and-wife team Paul and Elizabeth Nelson. Using their eclectic film collection, they have been able to put together a singular theme.

"These films are these unintentional time capsules, like the educational films (from the '60s); people made those, and thought that these would be used for five years and then chunked out," Paul Nelson said. "They weren't worried about posterities and putting the best foot forward."

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"This is something new," he added. "We've had themes sometimes, and sometimes it's been a mish mash, but it has been mostly short films... But we've got some films on the longer side that we've been wanting to show for quite some time now like 'Drugs in the Tenderloin.'"

Starting off the season is a film made by Planned Parenthood in 1969 called Less Than Human.

"I don't know how people are going to take it, because it is in your face in the way that was in your face in the '60s that they would never be able to get away with now," Nelson said

Later in the season they'll be showing Free Enterprise - What's That?.

"It's the same anti-tax, anti-regulation, get-government-off-our-backs message, unchanged," Nelson said. "What's being shouted now was going on then. Nothing has really changed.

"These films have that feel that the world is coming apart at the seams, and I like that because people have that feeling now, and it is nothing new."

Something that has changed over the course of time, however, is Cinema Bomar. The company got its start in the 1980s when a friend rescued a 16-mm film that was being thrown away and gave it to Paul and Elizabeth.

"He decided that we were the sort of people that needed to own this sort of thing," Nelson said.

The Nelsons were able to gather more films in much the same manner, including a group of friends who taught for HISD who were able to raid the trash bin at their school to gather up discarded films.

With a growing film collection, they faced a rather large problem.

"We took them with no way to look at them," Nelson said. "Elizabeth went to an auction out at UH (Education Department) and bought a pallet of discarded A.V. equipment... And then we started showing these films behind our house on Bomar St. when we moved in '94."

The couple has now settled into Domy Book Store with letting the sound of their projector take people back in time as they present 1960s Doc-dystopias.

The first installation of Cinema Bomar's latest season happens tonight at 8:30 at Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer.

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