The oldest continually operating movie theater in San Francisco, and the second oldest in the world, the famous Roxie has recently tapped two people to head their leadership team. One of whom is freelance writer and editor-in-chief of Movie Mezzanine Sam Fragoso, who has been named as the theater’s creative director. Fragoso’s work has appeared in numerous places like NPR, The Atlantic, Playboy, and The A.V. Club, and recently Critical Press announced a book-length collection of interviews from him coming next year.
Six years after the Roxie officially became a not-for-profit organization, the hire represents the theater’s willingness to bring in young, fresh voices to take the institution into the future. Criticwire talked to Fragoso about what to expect when he takes over on October 19th.
Sam Fragoso: The position will require me to wear many hats, as is common with any job in the film industry. However, my primary responsibility will be to get people into the theater. In an attempt to do so, I’ll be contributing to the programming (alongside some really special colleagues), spearheading special events, and, hopefully, bringing in fascinating people to talk about movies. I’ll also be in charge of introducing certain films and leading the Q&As afterward.
In what direction do you want to take the Roxie programming-wise? Where do you see the theater a year from now?
Fragoso: I envision a theater with diverse, eclectic programming. A place with a healthy mix of modern indie cinema and timely repertory selections. Moreover, we’re aiming to make The Roxie a destination for people interested in discussing–maybe sometimes drunkenly debating–movies. Like Cinefamily in Los Angeles, we want to create a fun, informative, and lively environment for the people willing to pay $10 to see a movie.
Will you still remain as editor-in-chief of Movie Mezzanine after you take the position? If not, what role, if any, will you play in the site going forward?
Fragoso: For the time being, I will remain as the EIC of Mezzanine, although the other very talented editors will be stepping up a bit more. It’s very likely that someone within our staff may take over my position in the future. The role of the publisher appears to be making more sense these days. All the same, we have a handful of exciting announcements we’ll be making soon.
How do you think your experience as a writer and critic will affect your approach to the job?
Fragoso: It’s funny. I think that question is more interesting if reversed. How will the programming affect the criticism? But the truth is I don’t have the answers to either. What hopefully persists in both trades–the writer and the programmer–is that insatiable curiosity I have for something, anything that captures my attention.
What part of the job are you most looking forward to?
Fragoso: If I can do the job well, then what I’m most looking forward to are the people walking into The Roxie. It’s my hope that with this theater, we’re able to contribute just a little bit of joy to people’s lives.
Will you still continue to write? What else do you have in the pipeline?
Fragoso: Oh but of course. Writing is inescapable once you’ve started. I have a book to finish for The Critical Press, which will be published in the fall of 2016. The freelancing will continue, too. Maybe even some of them will be good.