‘Secret Mall Apartment’ Should Premiere At The Mall

This just has to happen. The documentary “Secret Mall Apartment” was a hit at the SXSW Festival and now has $10 million and actor Jesse Eisenberg attached to the project. He and director Jeremy Workman are wildly enthusiastic about this idea. One sticking point? Artist Michael Townsend, the subject of the film, was banned permanently from the property in 2007 when mall security discovered the apartment.

For those unfamiliar with the story, back in 2003 eight artist-pranksters created a secret apartment inside the Providence Place Mall building. They lived there for four years, sneaking in furniture, tapping into the mall’s electricity, and smuggling in over two tons of cinder block to build a wall. And Townsend was videotaping the whole thing. All this took place while the mall was open and running, and people were all driving in and out of the parking garage, and no one noticed for four years.

In an interview with Collider, Workman and Eisenberg urge mall ownership to have fun with this. It’s not as if the movie would inspire copycats — who would ever try this again? People will respond well if the owners demonstrate a sense of humor about the whole thing. I’m sure it was hell for management and the security crew at the time — imagine that phone call — but that was a long time ago, and it looks like two of the guards have participated in the film.

One revelation from the interview is that the secret apartment was located roughly below the food court. Also, Eisenberg speaks of having spent time in Providence; I believe this would be while shooting “The Education of Charlie Banks” on the Brown campus. And all three spend quite some time complaining about the craziness of the parking garage! Amen to that.

So let’s invite Townsend back in for the occasion. Make it an event. It will be good publicity. The ProJo spoke with Townsend:

“For God sakes, give me a ribbon to cut,” he says, laughing. “Let me back in. It would be great if we had a public un-banning.”

“My hope is that we will be able to organize a scenario where everybody wins. We’re pro-mall. We want the mall to benefit from its showing as much as possible. I think enough time has passed.”

Eisenberg agrees: “It would be a goodwill gesture if they had the premiere there and allowed Michael back in.”


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