Best Bets: Beating the quarantine blues virtually

“The Etruscan Smile,” starring Brian Cox of “Succession” as a rugged old Scotsman who reluctantly leaves his beloved isolated island and travels to his son’s house in San Francisco to seek medical treatment, is one of seven films available to stream on the Rehoboth Beach Film Society’s website. A portion of the proceeds paid to stream the film goes to the society’s Cinema Art Theater in Lewes, which is currently closed. (Submitted photo)

Do you feel like, with all of the extra time on your hands lately, you’ve watched every true crime documentary on Netflix? You even checked out that bonus episode of “Tiger King” that came out on Sunday?

Do you feel like one day soon you are going to see something pop up on your computer screen saying you’ve reached the end of the internet?

Have no fear, there are still some online options available where you can help out some worthy causes and also get some enjoyment, interest and education in the meantime.

•The Rehoboth Film Society’s Cinema Art Theater is making available a number of independent films that would have otherwise been hard to find elsewhere. A portion of the proceeds helps keep the theater going during a time when the Lewes venue is dark.

The following films are available to stream: “Balloon,” the Audience award winner for the best feature film at the 2019 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival; “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band,” a musical documentary about the legendary music group; “Saint Frances,” a comedy-drama which also played at the 2019 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival; “The Perfect Nanny,”,a true story that took place in 2012 in Manhattan; “The Whistlers,” a clever comedy; and “The Estruscan Smile,” a moving drama starring Brian Cox of TV’s “Succession.”

New today on the site RehobothFilm.com, is “The Dog Doc,” a documentary about a veterinarian who holistically treats animals after other vets have given up on them.

Films are available for between $8 and $12, much less than mainstream movies that are available on demand.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for theaters as well as viewers,” said Sue Early, executive director of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society.

“The more that distributors make available, the more opportunities we want to present to our viewers.”

Movies at Midway in Lewes is also offering a similar program with more mainstream films.

A list of 11 movie is available on moviesatmidway.com. It does include some crossover between the two venues including “Saint Frances,” “The Whistlers,” and “Once Were Brothers.”

“‘Once Were Brothers’ was a film that we were actually showing when we had to shut down,” said Ms. Early about the Cinema Art Theater on Dartmouth Drive in Lewes.

“It’s different distributors that we’re dealing with. So they give us some options. We’re primarily an independent film theater. So if I saw something that was more mainstream that I felt was more Midway, I didn’t opt to show it. We wanted to show films that are in line with what we typically show.”

Ironically, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society opened the Cinema Art Theater four years ago to the day they had to shut down due to the emergency orders put in place by Gov. John Carney due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band,” the acclaimed documentary about the legendary music group, is available to stream through websites for the Rehoboth Film Society and Movies at Midway in Lewes.

“We opened on March 17, 2016, and we had to close down on March 17, 2020. So it was four years exactly,” Ms. Early said.

With the shutdown, she has had to furlough all of the society’s and the theater’s employees but there is still is rent to pay on the theater. So getting some of the proceeds on these streaming films is a big help.

“You hope a lot of people are doing it. One person emailed me and talked about the film ‘Balloon’ that was in our film festival back in November. It’s a real thriller. I mean you are literally sitting on the edge of your seat, rooting for the family,” she said.

“And she emailed me and just said ‘Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity. It was a great film.’ And my response was ‘I’m glad you got to see it. Please pass the word.’ If people have good experiences with this and pass the word, we hope to get more participation. But it’s a new computer technology that people need to learn how to do.”

Based on true events, “Balloon” follows the Strelzyk and Wetzel families as they dare to cross the inner German border in 1979 from East Germany to West Germany in a homemade hot-air balloon.

Ms. Early said that when things reopen for business, the Cinema Art Theater, as perhaps all theaters, might look a bit different in the early going.

“Even when the restrictions are lessened, I think people are still going to be concerned about being close. They may enjoy more outdoor activities before they are willing to get that close in a theater. So when we open, we will most likely be reducing the availability of ticket sales and having people sit three seats apart or something. We’ll still be practicing some social distancing in some form,” she said.

The film society’s long-running annual event, The Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, is still set for Nov. 5-15. Although Ms. Early said plans for it are currently on hold.

“We’re still working it out. We won’t make a decision until the end of May, about that,” she said.

“We’re still processing this whole situation and learning as we go along. And obviously, we’ll have recommendations from the governor. When some restrictions are lifted, there will be probably other recommendations that we’ll have to comply with. So it’s a day-by-day situation. We’ll see what happens.”

In its 23rd year, the festival presents scores of films on a variety of topics and genres in three locations.

Of course, Ms. Early would settle for one film in one location right now.

“I think people enjoy coming out and seeing a thought-provoking film or an informative film, something different than the mainstream, and then being able to talk to people on the way out,” she said.

“Or they get together for dinner on Saturday night and say ‘Hey, how many people saw this film? I did.’ And the conversation evolves. As well as people who enjoy volunteering at the theater.

“So all of that right now, all those components of their social life, are not there right now. And I know that’s a loss for everybody, but it will be back.”

•Staying in the beach area, Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth Beach is doing something to help get those kids to bed each night. A member of their company is reading a bedtime story on their Facebook page.

Occasionally they even throw in a story for the older set.

The initiative started March 18 and the first story was read by Stephanie Whitcomb, director of development and outreach for Clear Space.

“With us all practicing social distancing and Clear Space temporarily being dark because of COVID-19, we wanted to bring some arts to everybody through social media,” she said before reading “Very Little Red Riding Hood.”

“So we are starting something called ‘Bedtime Stories from Clear Space.’ We’re just trying to keep things alive and keep some joy out there for everybody.”

Various actors and Clear Space personnel take turns each night reading their favorite story. Emma Pittman, a Clear Space alum, who will hopefully debut on Broadway this year in “Chicago,” even made an appearance.

Also on Clear Space’s Facebook is a series they are calling “Window Karaoke,” where a duet from a famous show is sung — from a very safe distance.

•Dewey Beach’s Bottle & Cork is hosting an online version of their famous jam on Saturday.

The Virtual Jam Session will be Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. featuring 12 bands, each playing a half-hour set.

The band My Hero Zero will play during Saturday’s Bottle & Cork’s Virtual Jam on Facebook. The jam will start at 5 p.m.

It will be hosted on the Bottle & Cork Facebook page with a link to their GoFundMe site to benefit the musicians. As of Thursday afternoon, just over $2,000 of a $36,000 goal had already been reached.

Split Decision will start things off at 5, followed by JJ Rupp, The Zoo, Late Last Night, Covert Pop, Laura Lea and Tripp Fabulous, My Hero Zero, Kono Nation, 3 a.m. Tokyo, Stealing Savannah, The Benderz and Stellar Mojo.

•Many local musicians have taken advantage of online concerts to help offset the costs of not performing live.

Here are few local online shows coming up.

The Ladybug Festival, which will hopefully bring female-fronted music to Wilmington on July 16-17 and Milford on Sept. 13 has featured a number of past and future acts on its Facebook page.

Tonight at 8, the page will feature Lefty the Greatest, Dallas Remington, Melissa Menago from June Divided and Rachael Sage.

The Delaware-based Rock Orchestra, which has performed in both Smyrna and Milton, is putting recordings of past performances on YouTube.

For the next four Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. you can find these shows by searching TRO-live:

Wednesday – Tribute to INXS

April 29 – Tribute to The Who

May 6 – Tribute to Bruce Springsteen

May 13 – Best of Beatlefest 2019

There will be a PayPal link on the YouTube for folks to donate money.

Kent County’s own Sol Knopf has been doing a series of Facebook concerts on his Sol Knopf-Singer/Songwriter page.

The next one is Wednesday at 7 p.m. He’ll have a virtual tip jar for donations.

Finally, Rick Hudson of Dover-based band Celtic Harvest will present a tribute to the recently passed singer/songwriter John Prine. It will be Sunday at 4 p.m. on the Rick’s Music Mill Facebook page.

If you have a favorite local band or musician, they are probably performing online somewhere. Check in and help if you can. And let us know so we can give them a shout out.

‘Mox Nox’ postponed

It was announced this week an upcoming touring production of the original production “Mox Nox” has been postponed until 2021.

“After three years of development, collaboration and hard work, we were ecstatic to finally share this beautiful story with you, our audiences; it is because we all have put in so much work that I do not wish to take the risk of reaching a final product that might be cancelled due to extension of quarantine” wrote Brown Box Theatre artistic director Kyler Taustin in a letter to supporters.

“Most importantly, however, with the risks of COVID-19 still so high and the timeline for acceptable public gatherings so unclear, The Brown Box community’s health and well-being are at the forefront of my mind.

“Today our play is probably more relevant than ever and will prove to be an important piece of art once we exit this pandemic. I know that this is a major blow to what, at least for me, was one of the upcoming highlights in these dark times. We have created a calendar that will place Mox Nox in the exact same time block in our 2021 season.”

In “Mox Nox (or Soon Comes the Night),” two sisters are reunited at their family home. Mira, the caretaker sister, had to weather her mother’s death alone and sister Deedee has returned to bring her fiancé, Pike, to a safe place, even as her memory is vanishing faster and faster.

The play was original supposed to play May 22-May 23 at the Ocean City Performing Arts Center; May 28 at Holts Landing State Park in Dagsboro; May 30 at Pemberton Hall in Salisbury, Maryland; and May 31 at the Lewes Public Library.

Now Showing

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Bad Boys for Life,” “The Gentlemen” and the comedy “Like a Boss.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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