The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at Oddball Films

We are invited to a screening night at Oddball Films in the Mission, San Francisco.

The world’s smallest cinema’s search for events in San Francisco has been very exciting and fruitful. The most remarkable find was Oddball Films. A true hidden gem, Oddball Films is surprisingly tucked away on the third story of a building on a small street in the Mission. Oddball Films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing, and web projects around the world.

Their films are almost exclusively drawn from their collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between.

Oddball Films actively works to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Every week, Stephen Parr and his programmer, Kat Shuchter, put together two offerings of offbeat cinema. On Thursday or Friday evening you can sit between stacks of film tins and watch some truly unique film.

That type of eclectic and unique film offering is definitely something the world’s smallest cinema is working to be part of. Fortunately for Cinema Piccolo, Stephen and Cat enjoy having us there as well. We discovered this after an adventurous first run on a Friday night. Street parking can be somewhat of a hassle in the Mission on a Friday night, but we decide to give it a try anyway. Needless to say, all the parking spots are taken. After a good wait, we manage to get a parking spot in front of the door. We cannot get the cinema up the stairs, so we decide boldly to put it on the pavement.

I start building up and Cat is fixing the electricity. Stephen throws the extension cord down from three stories and, unfortunately, Cat catches it with her head. Ouch! The show must go on, and I manage to get the cinema running. We start fifteen minutes late, but we screen continuously. The responses are overwhelmingly positive.

After watching ‘Nachtblind’ by Nena van Driel, Stephen Parr comments “A surprise birthday party gone wrong- a clever short for I Vitelloni viewers.”

Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. If you find yourself in Northern California, do not miss out on seeing this hidden gem.

Oddball Films

Kat Shuchter preparing film at Oddball Films

The world's smallest cinema and Oddball Films

Kat Shuchter, Oddball Films, in the world’s smallest cinema

Oddball Films, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

Maarten van der Weijden and Stephen Parr in front of the world’s smallest cinema

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the San Francisco Chronicle building

We are invited by the Impact Hub for their Holiday Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building.

A day after our bad luck at the Another Hole In The Head Film Festival, we get a second chance. The Impact Hub Bay Area in San Francisco invites us for a Holiday Bloc Party in the old San Francisco Chronicle building. They host the sold-out event together with the San Francisco School of Digital Film Making, Indiegogo, Yahoo, Intersection, TechShop, 5M and many others. San Francisco is a world centre for technology and new ways of working, and this event is yet another example.

The San Francisco Chronicle building is located just around the corner of Union Square. We leave early to counter possible challenges caused by the heavy traffic. In the event, we do encounter a challenge but it’s not the traffic. The only door that enables us to drive the cinema inside does not open. Quite problematic given that we have already unstrapped the cinema with all but one cable on a busy road.

Luckily, there is an inner courtyard where Off the Grid is hosting a Food Truck market especially for the event. We wanted to get in touch with them before, because they are happening in San Francisco. They organise several events weekly and enable a lot of food trucks to cook on a daily basis. The options vary from Japanese hamburgers and Korean sandwiches to gourmet crème brûlée.

As it’s just around the corner, we decide to drive there with the cinema strapped with just one cable. The traffic is heavy and there are seven fire trucks around the corner, so we don’t want to waste time. With hindsight, this is not the safest bet. The cinema almost rolls off the pick-up truck, which would be pretty messy in a city like San Francisco with its steep roads. Luckily, we discover it just in time to hold it back. Once we set up the cinema it becomes clear that it’s a perfect match with Off the Grid.

The party starts to bustle and the line for the cinema is growing. Our film Nachtblind does not have any subtitles, but that does not matter to most people. They love it. Two women even make up their own English lines for the film, which is pretty hilarious as everyone can hear their laughter from the outside. Nachtblind by Nena van Driel is the most successful film of the night. Overall it’s a great night, and we are feeling confident about all the events that are yet to come.

the world's smallest cinema

The world’s smallest cinema at the Impact Hub Block party at the San Francisco Chronicle building.

the world's smallest cinema

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building

the world's smallest cinema

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building


The world’s smallest cinema at the San Francisco Chronicle Building

the world's smallest cinema

world’s smallest cinema at the San Francisco Chronicle building

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema in San Francisco

Another Hole In The Head film festival. Our first festival.

Very exciting. It’s December, it’s the Another Hole In The Head film festival, and it’s the world premiere of Face, Taka Arai and Norith Soth’s found footage film about a Halloween frat party gone horribly, horribly wrong. This footage is leaked police evidence you are not supposed to watch. It reveals a chain reaction of the most appalling acts ever committed by college kids in American history.

So what caused the gruesome aftermath at the Delta Chi Kappa Sorority house on the night of October 31, 2012? The world’s smallest cinema definitely wants to find out.

That’s why it’s even more exciting that the SF Indiefest has invited us to have our first showcase right there in the theater. SF Indiefest is a year-round, non-profit organization that has been operating since 1998 in the San Francisco area. They present three annual festivals: the SF Independent Film Festival, the SF Documentary Festival and Another Hole In The Head, which is now in its 10th year. Obviously we are very happy to be part of such an authentic film festival, with three full weeks of independent horror, sci-fi and fantasy films – 54 feature films and 27 short films in total.

It’s the perfect way to launch the world’s smallest cinema in the United States. All we have to do is get the cinema to the New People’s theater in time for the premiere. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out.

First showcases and preparations always take more time than you expect and there are always plenty of surprises. This is no exception. First of all, getting the cinema onto the newly-rented pick-up is more difficult than we anticipate. I manage to strain my back pushing the yellow car onto the truck.

My back is aching but we are finally in the truck and on the move – and then we hit the San Francisco traffic. We are stuck. For a very long time.

We finally arrive at the theater 30 minutes before the premiere, physically incapacitated and with too little time to set up shop. We have to cancel the event.

What a disappointment. Luckily, George and Hiromi are very understanding, but having to cancel is just not our cup of tea.

world's smallest cinema

First set up of the world’s smallest cinema

the world's smallest cinema

First screening in the USA of the world’s smallest cinema. It is running!

Another Hole In The Head Film Festival

The world’s smallest cinema at Another Hole In The Head film festival in San Francisco.

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema is going to Hollywood!

The news is out. The last couple of months we have been working hard to make something special happen. From the start we knew that the world’s smallest cinema belongs in Hollywood. We encountered some challenges, but we are pleased to announce that the cinema is on its way by ship and will arrive in California soon. We will travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles to visit a number of people and places with a special connection to film. We are very excited and are looking forward to this adventure. We hope to discover great things about the past and future of film. Please spread the word and follow our Facebook Page, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates!

World smallest cinema in Hollywood