Wednesdays at the Gem is a story of friendship and courage; a tale of life and the harsh realities that accompany it. A blend of Cinema Paradiso, The Great Debaters, and To Kill a Mockingbird, Wednesdays at the Gem is a historical look at the segregated South long before the lunch counters in Greensboro and the bus strikes in Selma.
It’s 1939 in the Jim Crow South. The glamour of Hollywood is exploding onto the scene, and starlets fill the pages of magazines and newspapers. The public is enamored with the magic of the movies. For a mere five cents, people escape to the flicker shows and away from the bone-weary drudgery of the Great Depression.
However, what serves as an escape for many is a cruel reminder of what is denied to others.
Going to the movies is a dream unattainable to a majority of the black population of the South. That is until one courageous 10-year-old black boy has an idea.
A series of life-changing events bring Aaron Adkins to The Gem Theatre. Before long, his youthful exuberance and innocence persuade the theatre staff to sneak the neighboring black community into The Gem. Every Wednesday, a new movie featuring Hollywood ingenue Meredith Maxwell arrives at the theatre. After a day of screenings, the lights go out, the marquee goes dark and unbeknownst to the public, the black community is smuggled in through the alleyway doors for illegal screenings. Within the walls of this movie house, the townspeople sit in darkness discovering and dreaming of life beyond their reach. As imaginations soar, boundaries are pushed and racial tensions escalate with deadly consequences. In a climactic and explosive evening, the Jim Crow laws are openly and cruelly challenged.