Robin Williams film showings to benefit Concern Hotline

By Josette Keelor

Four screenings of Robin Williams’ movies at The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Winchester this week will benefit area residents in crisis.

The theater in Kernstown announced Thursday it will show the adventure-fantasy film “Jumanji” at 12:55 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and drama “Good Will Hunting” at 3:10 and 6:35 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $7 and proceeds will go to the Concern Hotline, which serves Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page and Shenandoah.

The Concern Hotline in Winchester provides information on referral, crisis intervention, suicide prevention and compassionate listening 24 hours a day to anyone in need, according to a press release from the theater.

“I thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Rusty Holland, director of Concern Hotline.

When Steve Nerangis, creative manager and partner at the local Alamo, approached him about the idea, Holland said, “I thought, what a great opportunity to increase some awareness.”

Actor-comedian Robin Williams was found dead at the age of 63 on Aug. 11 after an apparent suicide. Following his death, news articles often included information of help for those in crisis, advising readers in crisis to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Though on a national level an increase of calls to suicide prevention hotlines was reported in the days after Williams’ death, Holland said he won’t be able to confirm any local increases until the end of the month.

But recent callers to Concern Hotline have mentioned Williams by name, wanting to “discuss their own feelings,” Holland said.

“These are people that are struggling with their own diseases,” he said. The actor’s death gave callers “a human touch.”

The hotline fields about 8,000 calls a year, and Holland said, “Approximately 7 percent are active suicide calls.”

Declining to say which one, he said a county in its service area has one of the highest suicide rates in Virginia, so “we deal with suicide prevention on a regular basis.”

“Seven percent’s a pretty big number,” he added.

Holland said this is the first time Concern Hotline has partnered with the Alamo through film screenings, though they’ve partnered on other events.

Anticipating its biggest fundraiser of the year is its annual fish fry on Sept 5 just before National Suicide Prevention Week, Holland said Concern Hotline has about 40 volunteers, but can always use more.

“[The film tribute] will make it a little easier for us to keep going,” he said.

The Woodstock Community Theatre also remembered Williams this week through the films “Dead Poets Society,” Walt Disney’s “Aladdin,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Good Will Hunting” on consecutive afternoons ending Thursday.

The film showings were free, said manager Shawn Garman.

Turnout was “pretty good,” he said in a Thursday phone interview. “We had about 50 for the first day and …. 53 I think yesterday.”

He guessed about 185 viewers came for “Aladdin,” in which Williams voiced the role of Genie. Garman hadn’t heard about the Alamo showings, but said he knew of a drive-in theater near Lexington planning to raise donations by showing Williams’ films.

On its Facebook page, Hull’s Drive-In in Lexington wrote that proceeds from its Robin Williams Tribute Night on Thursday would go to the Rockbridge Community Service Board Suicide Prevention Programs.

“Robin Williams, I think, he made a lot of movies that a lot of the generations around Woodstock grew up with,” Garman said. “I thought it would be a good time [for a tribute] because it’s right before school starts.”

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is located at 181 Kernstown Commons Blvd., Winchester. For information, call 540-313-4060 or visit http://www.drafthouse.com/winchester. Contact the Concern Hotline at 540-667-0145, 540-743-3733, 540-459-4742 or 540-635-4357 or at http://www.concernhotline.com.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com>