10 People to Watch: Maggie Lea

10 People to Watch: Maggie Lea

 Maggie Lea | Founder, Cinema East

This connector and tastemaker specializes in the art of bringing all the cool kids together.

Why Austin?
I came to Austin in 2004 to study literature, gender politics and political science at UT. I created a community of friends here and realized that what I was good at was bringing people together. It has become a full-time passion of mine—building audiences and curating. When I found that Austin was very receptive to that kind of community building, I stayed.

How did you decide to start Cinema East?
Once I went to Marfa and saw how a smaller-scale Texas film festival was run, I knew programming and exhibition was something I truly loved, because in a world of consumerism, you have to save a little room for yourself to be a tastemaker. Cinema East is a project where I get to share what I would normally see in a dark movie theater alone with a diverse audience.

What career moment are you most proud of?
I am happy with the work I do at Cheer Up Charlie’s, which has given me a chance to book bands and throw a party every single night. I’m also proud of Cinema East’s last two summer seasons, because I love the people I’ve gotten to work with and because our programming has gotten so much more consistent. We have really become who we are and want to be.

What’s in store for 2013?
I hope to widen my approach to both my music and film work. Cinema East is getting more film submissions and partnership opportunities than ever before, so I’d like the inner workings of the film series’ crew to support all these new opportunities. What I like about Cinema East is that it started with a narrow focus (supporting only the indiest of indie films) yet resonates with large audiences. Similarly, in my music work, I like finding a relatively unknown band for people to discover at Cheer Up’s. I like the juxtaposition of the public and private, local and national, something quiet but loud, humble but larger than itself.

To learn more about Cinema East, visit cinemaeastaustin.com.

Maggie’s Austin Essentials
• Justine’s (4710 E. 5th St.)—The best place to sit in the winter is on their heated outdoor patio with a plate of artichokes and a glass of red wine.
• East Side Pedal Pushers (1414 E. 5th St.)—When I have a flat, I’m always somehow super close to their friendly establishment.
• Paramount Theatre (713 Congress Ave.)—Their summer classics film series never gets old. The theatre is majestic, its architecture full of stories.