To hear Sharon Litwin’s inverview with Wennie Schultz on WWNO-FM, click here.
Wendeslaus Schultz, known to everyone as Wennie, first got into the movie house business almost 40 years ago. An avid fan of obscure art films, documentaries and indie movies, Wennie, 65, has been a fixture on the local cinema scene all these years. Remembered affectionately by movie mavens as the proprietor of the late-lamented, much-loved Mid-City cinema pub Movie Pitchers, he is now the owner and film booker at Chalmette Movies on W. Judge Perez Drive in St. Bernard Parish.
Happily for his fellow cinema afficionados, he is still presenting art films and quirky indies for friends and fans who are happy to drive to “da parish” to see them.
Although his day job for all those years was teaching in the Orleans Parish school system, Wennie always had an entrepreneurial. It’s what drove him to buy his first movie house.
“I owned a miniature putt-putt golf course in Slidell,” Wennie explains. “I remember my mother saw an ad on Labor Day weekend 1975 about a movie house that was available. The irony of it was that my father had passed away in July of that year and I had just paid off the money I had borrowed from him to open the putt-putt course. So I used that money that I re-inherited from him to purchase The Star Theatre in Bay St. Louis.”
That worked well for awhile, until a four-plex opened nearby and put him out of business. So he opened Movie Pitchers, until the building was bought and torn down to make way for a grocery store. Then it was on to The Plaza in eastern New Orleans for a couple of years before a pre-Katrina opening in Chalmette.
It took five years for that shopping mall to re-open post-hurricane and for Wennie to return to showing movies. Now retired from teaching, he spends his time watching at least two movies a day, “some for pleasure, some to see if we’re gong to play them in Chalmette,” he says.
One that has passed muster and is next on the Chalmette arts scene is the New Orleans Premiere of “Dirty Energy: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster.” It will open March 15 and run for one week. The story of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that took the lives of 11 workers and poured millions of barrels of oil into the ocean, it is the kind of independently made movie Wennie says will appeal to local audiences.
For more information about “Dirty Energy” and other upcoming events at Chalmette Movies, go to www.ChalmetteMovies.com or call 504-343-4340.
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.