Dir. Emma Kopkowski, USA, 2020, 13 min.

Screening virtually and at SECCA on Wednesday, May 12 @ 8:30 p.m. Learn more here.

Is there anything more American than a diner?

In “Regulars,” Director Emma Kopkowski captures slices of life in Jake’s Diner off of Wendover Avenue in Greensboro. IA group of college girls saving a couple of bucks while discussing which credit cards they have turns into a quieter scene with an old white guy with thick glasses and a cabbie-style hat.

“I’m like a part of the furniture,” he says.

The location that Kopkowski chose is open 24 hours and allowed her to get a glimpse of the kinds of people that show up at 3 or 4 in the morning, she says.

A group of Black women celebrate one of their birthdays. A man reminisces about the time he got kicked out of the Waffle House.

Cut to a few hours later and the graveyard shift staff has been switched out for the livelier, daytime crew. Little feet stick out of one of the plastic booths while a father and son converse nearby. Jazz piano plays in the background as the day drags on and night descends once again.

“I always found the communities that formed in these places so fascinating and found that even if a small diner might seem mundane, everyone who comes in has a story to tell,” Kopkowski told TCB.

The film is fairly quiet and light on dialogue which often gets drowned out by the background noise of the kitchen or bussing of tables. But the scenes capture the nostalgic feeling of every good diner — from the solid curve of the mug handles to the smell of the cheap black coffee.

“They’re an American constant,” Kopkowski says. “If it’s late and you need a good meal and good company, you can count on a diner being open.”

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