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Parrish leaving James River Film Society

Co-founder working on new neighborhood theater idea

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James Parrish, co-founder of the James River Film Society, is moving on after celebrating the society film festival's 20th anniversary this year.

“I have a new project, as compelling to me as Flicker, the bi-monthly Super 8 and 16mm film series I established here in 1998,” Parrish wrote on the group’s Facebook page. Flicker was the other half of the partnership that established the Richmond Moving Image Co-op, now James River Film Society in 1999.

“Over the past few years I've been thinking about and researching an idea to establish an independent art house theatre and film center in the heart of Richmond's arts district. I believe the time is right for this idea, but have decided that I need to leave the James River Film Society to make this dream a reality,” Parrish wrote.

Parrish says the theater would be called the Bijou Film Center, and it would be geared at helping foster a vibrant film culture in Richmond. With former Biograph manager Terry Rea, Parrish has already started a blogzine, the Bijou Backlight, which discusses film, a Facebook page, and Twitter account at @bijoufilmcenter.

On his way out the door, Parish says he made a challenge to the board to match his personal fundraising effort.

“My personal goal is to generate $2,500 for an organization to which I have poured out my heart and soul over the past 15 years and from which I have received many gifts and much joy,” he wrote. He hopes the board will match his effort by raising $2,500 more.

He made a $100 donation to JRFS and asked 24 of his friends to do the same. Community members can participate by following the link to the JRFS site, then clicking on the Network for Good button under Give Now. Or you can mail a check, payable to James River Film Society, to P.O. Box 7469, Richmond, VA 23221, he writes.

While the JRFS may be looking for new leaders, Parrish says he will continue to advocate for the organization and encourage them to build on longtime relationships with VCU's Kinetic Imaging and the Photography and Film department to help underwrite guests for the James River Film Society. "It's a win-win for VCU students and the community," says Parrish.

Parrish started JRFS with VCU professor Mike Jones and they have brought a number of brilliant film directors, musical artists and films to Richmond over the past two decades such as documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee, stop-motion animators the Quay Brothers and Tom Verlaine, to name a few.

Parish, who just started a new job as Director of Foundation Relations at VCU, will also be teaching a world cinema class this semester, using the groundbreaking 15-hour documentary, “The Story of Film: An Odyssey” as the text.

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