In this week’s feature package about our strange new normal, I got very nostalgic for my days of working in Chapel Hill movie theaters , which will face significant challenges even after the shutdown ends.

So it was heartening to see signs of life from The Chelsea Theater, the venerable little arthouse on Weaver Dairy Road that became a community nonprofit when its owners retired two years ago. The new virtual series “Chelsea Selects: A Lens on the Triangle” will show short and feature-length films made in or about the Triangle, and you can submit now.  

The films will start rolling out on The Chelsea’s website and newsletter sometime later in May. Emily Kass, The Chelsea’s executive director, told the INDY that the films will open on Fridays and run for a week or more, with new submissions rotating in on a rolling basis.

“This is new territory for us, and much will depend on the number of submissions,” Kass says. “The selections will be loosely curated, based on the entries we receive, to be grouped thematically.”

Be sure to read the FAQ and fill out the submission form, as there are a few loose guidelines (keep it PG-13, for instance). It costs $2 to submit a short film and $5 to submit something longer than 20 minutes. The Chelsea will split revenues with the featured filmmakers.

While announcing the call for submissions, The Chelsea also affirmed that it plans to resume live screenings when possible, including some “Chelsea Selects” submissions. Cass says that right now, they’re looking at July.

Another quick bit of movie-theater news: Today Durham’s Carolina Theatre announced that the first OutSouth Queer Film Festival—”first,” if you don’t count the decades when it was the North Carolina Gay + Lesbian Film Festival—has been postponed from its customary August dates. The new, curtailed run will be September 11 and 12.

Though “shortened in length, the festival will still pack an exciting line-up of features, documentaries, and shorts that fully represent the queer community into its programming,” according to a press release. “Mindful that social distancing rules and regulations will likely still be in place in September, audience sizes and the number of cinemas may be limited.”

The festival is accepting feature submissions via FilmFreeway through May 19, with the lineup to be announced August 1.

Contact arts and culture editor Brian Howe at

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