Balboa Theatre
Photo courtesy of San Diego Theatres


San Diego certainly has options when it comes to seeing classic or cult films on the big screen. And while places like Ken Cinema and Cinema Under the Stars have charm, they're comparatively small next to a venue like the Balboa Theatre (868 4th Ave., Gaslamp), which opened in 1924 and seats up to 1,600 people. It was restored and reopened in 2009, but hasn't served as a movie house since the '70s…Until now [cue dramatic music].

“A core piece of the mission is to bring interactive experiences. You won't just come and sit and watch a movie,” says Elizabeth Doran, the President and CEO of San Diego Theatres and the curator of the new Cinema @ The Balboa series. “It's about having fun together as an audience.”

The new Cinema series will kick-off on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. with a screening of Disney's Frozen, but it's only the beginning of a week's worth of varied films that includes rock docs like Tupac: Resurrection (Monday, Sept. 21), the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense (Tuesday, Sept. 22), and the recent Kurt Cobain tribute, Montage of Heck (Wednesday, Sept. 23). After that, there will be screenings of Grease (Thursday, Sept. 24), Lawrence of Arabia (Friday, Sept. 25) and Mary Poppins (Sunday, Sept. 27).

There will also be an interactive “Film in Focus” element to the screenings with planned Q&As with directors, actors and members of the community. For Grease, two of the original actors will host the event and, for Lawrence of Arabia, the New Americans Museum will be doing a presentation with members of San Diego's vast Chaldean community. Oh, and it's worth mentioning that the theater made a six-figure upgrade to the building, speaker system, projection booth and screen.

“The sound bounces in a way that doesn't happen in a regular movie theater. We've been told it has the quality of Carnegie Hall,” says Doran. “I feel like we have the best cinema venue in Southern California now.” Tickets range from $7.50 to $11.50.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Vase
Photo by Lytnon Gardiner


Don't let the word "craft" fool you. Made in America: Craft Icons of the 50 States isn't some Etsy-come-lately showcase, but rather a meticulously curated exhibition of contemporary and traditional works of art that have enriched American culture. This exhibit is part of the American Icons series of exhibitions at the Mingei International Museum (1439 El Prado) that highlights national works of folk art, craft and design dating back three centuries. With an emphasis on originality and workmanship, pieces include a midcentury Sam Maloof rocking chair (California), a Louis Comfort Tiffany long-necked bottle (New York), and a Gee's Bend quilt (Alabama). You can see the other 47 states when the exhibition opens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19 and runs through Feb. 21. Admission is $7-$10.

Photo courtesy of California Center for the Arts, Escondido
Kabir Singh


Heading up to the Bay Area to see the San Francisco Comedy Competition is, well, a bit of a hike. Not that it wouldn't be worth it. Iconic talents have performed at the prestigious contest since its start in the '70s, including Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres and Louis C.K. Lucky for locals, the SFCC is now a national tour, and the semi-final round will be held at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (340 N. Escondido Blvd.) on Wednesday, Sept. 23. Whittled down from a list of hundreds, 10 comedians will fight for a slot in the finals with Comedy Central vet Kabir Singh serving as the night's host. In the end, a panel of judges, with a little help from the audience, will declare a winner. The laughs start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets range from $25-$40.


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