Family-friendly films come to local coffeehouse

By Gus Bode

“Here comes the Dog, strong and brave!” sings the little pug-nosed pup Otis as he embarks on a journey to find his kitty pal Milo. Children giggle and squeal with joy, spilling popcorn all over blankets and sheets lining the floor.

Jen Pellow, of Carbondale, smiles and confides, “This movie was our first choice.”

Pellow is one of two major organizers of “Friday Night at the Movies,” a summer film festival organized locally and devoted to bringing Carbondale families together to enjoy films and quality family time.


“We tried to pick movies that were sweet and inspiring,” she said, watching the puppy prance to and fro on screen.

Located in the back room of the Longbranch Coffeehouse, the festival alternates between classic children’s movies and thought-provoking films for adults not likely to be seen in movie theaters. Every Friday at 7 p.m. community members gather in air-conditioned comfort to enjoy films and occasionally homemade chocolate and sweets, sold to benefit orphanages and schools in Bangladesh.

The choice of movies was no mistake, said Elaine Ramseyer, Longbranch manager and co-organizer of the event.

“We asked ourselves, what do we consider ‘must-see movies?” she said. “The films we chose are important, non-mainstream movies that make grown-ups think.”

Longbranch has played host to the Big Muddy Film Festival for years with great success. This new festival aims to build on that success and makes an effort to promote family values and community strength in Carbondale.

“In Carbondale, to be a happy, healthy person, it starts in the family,” Ramseyer said. “The more things families can do together in a safe environment, the better. I don’t think it can be overvalued.”

The festival attracted a pair of SIUC student parents. Rachel Dawkins, a graduate student from Mount Vernon studying special education, and Jodi Karcher, a senior from Mount Vernon studying art, brought their children to Longbranch to enjoy the classic children’s film.


“We told them, we’re going to watch a kitty and doggy movie, and they knew what we were talking about.” Karcher said. “They lasted inside maybe 20 minutes, but they love to play outside.”

This Friday, adults will have the opportunity to watch the French hit “Amelie.” The Longbranch Film Festival will continue until August 10.

Justin Leverett can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].