Monday, March 15, 2010

Cinema Village

Brief History:

Cinema Village is the oldest continuously operated cinema in Greenwich Village. Built in 1963 in an old fire house it showcased “vintage classics, cult and contemporary critical favorites on double bills that would usually change three times a week,” which have since dissipated in commercial cinemas. During the emergence of home video, buy outs by major circuits and real estate development, it struggled

to stay open and only survived with a switch to limited engagements of highly alternative first run programming.

In the early 1990s it became known through its annual festivals and other bookings, as the place to see the amazing Hong Kong films, which had a profound influence on international filmmaking styles. Personal appearances by talents such as Michele Yeoh, Chow Yun Fat, Wong Kar Wai and Peter Chan. In 2000, renovation allowed for modern three screen facility with state of the presentation with a much more diverse programming mix and permit them to extend runs of special films to extraordinary lengths. 2001 introduced digital video projection, which gives them potential to play deserving features without the burden to distributors or filmmakers of an expensive conversion to celluloid.

Main Audience:

Greenwich Village is composed largely of elderly people and college students. Discounted tickets (College ID $8 Senior $6) There is a Large Jewish community and Cinema Village makes it a point to showcase works with Jewish themes or works by Jewish filmmakers. Promotion of films playing is largely dependent on word of mouth. They also promote the current films on their website.

Building and Location:

There is no lobby and a one-teller box office. If you arrive more than 15 minutes prior to the film’s start time, there is no indoor waiting area and you will be asked to wait outside. There is a small concession stand with the basics (large portion of cinema’s profits).

• Screen#1 capacity: 156 seats projection: 35 mm, 16 mm, digital video, QuickTime Files sound: Dolby Digital CP500

• Screen#2 capacity: 67 seats projection: 35 mm, 16 mm, digital video sound: Dolby Surround CP45

• Screen#3 capacity: 73 seats projection: 35 mm sound: Dolby Surround CP45

Our Experience:

After showing up a bit early we realized we had to kill some time so headed across the street to grab some zza. We headed over about 10 minutes past showtime wrongfully assuming that we were savvy moviegoers who would simply be skipping the previews. After purchasing our ticket from the college-age teller we bought some over-priced popcorn and headed into the tiny theater up the narrow stairs.

There were roughly 10 other people in the theater and all seemed borderline-elderly. The film came and went without really leaving any members of the group even slightly impressed. It was a mediocre film at best. We headed back out to the "lobby."

After asking the teller to speak to a manager she got very nervous and immediately insisted she must know why. We explained we were doing a project and she relaxed slightly. "He's somewhere around here" she told us. We realized quickly that she was disinterested in helping us so we asked if we could look around for him. "No, just wait here. He should pass through eventually." We decided to start looking for another employee to talk to. We found Steve.

Steve is a SUNY Purchase Film Studies alum who works at Cinema Village and was a great resource of info on Cinema Village. He was one of the most tenured employees with only a little over a year under his belt. He informed us that the average employment time for anyone working at cinema village was around one to two years and that no current manager had been there longer than him. The owner comes in roughly once a year when something needs to be fixed or equipment purchased. Other than that, the place pretty much is run by the employees on hand. He told us that they employ a film purchaser who picks the films that they will be showing and makes it a point to have at least one Jewish-themed film on hand and playing at any given time. He rarely gets to see the films that play and admits that he prefers not to be there when not working even though he can see any film free of charge.

Overall, Steve painted a grim picture of Cinema Village and claimed to see the writing on the walls for the old theater. However, due to its survival during trying times, it is difficult to believe that this cinema could go down without a fight.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walter Reade Theater


Walter Reade Jr. was the president and board chairman for a number of theaters in New York, New Jersey, and Boston. His father, Walter Reade Sr. is credited for developing a chain of theaters in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and upon his death, his son assumed control of the company and later ventured into the business of distribution and the financing of foreign films. He created Continental Film Distributors and The Walter Reade Organization. Although he did not have much success with art cinema, his biggest success came with the release of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Other notable engagements of Reade Jr.’s include Star Wars and Easy Rider. Sadly, Reade was killed in a skiing accident in 1973, but his name and legacy live on through the theater that bears his name in Lincoln Center.

Founded in 1969, The Walter Reade Theater showcases American and international films, and is one of the twelve resident organizations at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Its mission is not only to celebrate new filmmakers, but also to enhance awareness and accessibility by distributing these films to a vast audience. The film society of Lincoln Center caters to a broad and diverse group of enthusiasts, hailing from many different economic and ethnic backgrounds. Not only is the film society highly acclaimed, the institution prides itself on its continuous efforts to research and discover new trends in cinema. Jean- Luc Godard, Pedro Almodovar, and Francois Truffaut are among the numerous directors who have been introduced to American audiences through the film society.

Promotional Strategy

The film society of Lincoln Center’s most prestigious events are The New York Film Festival and The New Directors/New Films Festival. The New York Film Festival was first held in 1963 by Amos Vogel and Richard Roud, who established it as a non-competitive festival. Currently, the director is Richard Pena and the residing committee is a collaboration of intellectuals including film critics and magazine editors. The films are categorized into sub-genres such as non-narratives, experimental, and avant garde. The New Directors/ New Film Festival is a collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art, and it helps emerging directors from all over the world gain notoriety. Its prestige has helped gain support from the global film community and various celebrities, such as Christopher Walken, Mel Brooks, and Steven Spielberg, who have contributed to the special events, intimate interviews, and gala tribute which bring the public closer to their favorite artists.

The “Film Comment” is a bi-monthly magazine published by The Film Society at Lincoln Center, which gives critical reviews and in-depth analysis of mainstream, art-house, and avant-garde films from around the world. The publication was founded in 1962 by Joseph Blanco to cater to New York’s cinephile culture. Notable contributors include Roger Ebert, Amos Vogel, Quentin Tarantino, and Ingmar Bergman. It was awarded the Utne Independent Press Award in 2007 for Best Arts Coverage.

Experience at Walter Reade Theater

The theater is nestled in the heart of the theater district, and to the left of the famous Julliard School. People come to the theater district for the higher arts, but on the ground level, this particular theater isn’t boastful, and some might be surprised by its minimalist decor. Only one flag hangs outside the theater, aptly etched with the word ‘FILM’. The tickets are sold outside, and are sold around a half hour before the scheduled film for the upcoming time. This can make things slightly annoying if the weather is unfavorable, as it must be endured if you wish to purchase tickets. Fortunately, they believe in the student discount, with the right ID (naturally).

Warm heat greets you on the inside of this cozy lobby. There are black benches to sit on, beside tables covered with upcoming programs and schedules. There isn’t a single trace of commercialism – no signs for Coke or advertising to be found anywhere. Instead, there is an open space decorated with classic movie posters, a small portion of the gallery’s larger collection. The concession stand’s prices are inexpensive, with your choice of comfort food (bagels & self-serve cream cheese, tea, croissants), or the classic movie theater menu (popcorn, that’s surprisingly not in a grossly oversized bucket, and your selection of soda choices). The employees are kind and helpful, ready to assist at a moment’s notice, and easily starting up a conversation as you wait. Hopefully Van, the woman behind the counter in the photograph, is there when you visit. She has a great sense of humor, just don’t ask her about any of the films (she’s not a fan).

New York magazine boasted that the Walter Reade has “268 comfortable seats, a 35-foot-wide screen, film and high-definition-video projectors, and cutting edge Dolby sound.” It only has one actual theater inside, but the ambience is comfortable and classy. There is plenty of area to walk around, and the theater even won an award for being accessible to people with disabilities. You can sit and lean back without having to worry about blocking the view of the person behind you, and the uphill seating arrangement makes sure no one is in anyone’s way once they are seated. Also, there are no annoying previews or commercials to wait through, because once the lights go down, the film starts immediately.

The film I saw was titled Air Doll, a 2009 Japanese drama by Hirokazu Koreeda. I enjoyed the film without having to crane my neck upward, despite how close I was. The screen is neatly designed to be just the right height so that the entire audience can watch it without having to move from where they are. There is also a small stage underneath the screen, presumably for live action performances. The sound can be heard equally throughout the theater, and finds a happy medium between blasting loud and deafly quiet – just the right pitch to listen comfortably. Aside from the film’s sound, the theater is silent – no workers coming in to check on things, and the patrons are respectful of each other, keeping their chit-chat to a minimum. Standard rules, such as those of texting (“the only texts we are allow are the ones in subtitles”), are listed just outside of the theater.

This particular movie was part of an event, “Film Comment Selects 2010”, from Feb. 19-Mar 4, its tagline being “Extreme. Daring. Out There. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.” One of the many pamphlets for the theater described this event as “Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this annual showcase of discoveries, special previews, rediscoveries, and films without distribution is handpicked by the editors of “Film Comment”, America’s leading magazine of film criticism. Drawn from their travels on the international film festival circuit, this year’s eclectic and cutting-edge mix has something for everyone.” To top off this comfortable film going experience, I vastly enjoyed Air Doll, and Koreeda’s take on the childhood fantasy of bringing one’s toys to life.

History of IFC


The IFC Center is an art house movie theater in Greenwich,

NYC. The historical building was originally built as a church in the early 1800’s had now been

changed into a three theater facility. Rainbow Media Holdings LLC., which is an American cable company established in 1980 that owns AMC, IFC, WE TV, Sundance channel, Wedding Central, Voom HD Networks, and News 12, bought the movie theater as an extension of its cable channel.

Theater doors were opened to the public for the first time on June 17, 2005, and the first film screened was Me and You and Everyone We Know. Interestingly enough, the opening was met with a protest from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, as the IFC Center had hired non-union workers.

Currently, it is equipped to screen 35 mm and High Definition digital video., screening regularly scheduled films, premieres, educational programs, and television broadcasts. The theater also has digital editing suites, a meeting area, and a restaurant called The Waverly.

Promotional Strategies of IFC Center:

The IFC center employs various techniques in promoting the theater, events, screenings, and membership programs, which offers discounts and benefits to patrons of the theater. The benefits include admission discounts, free preview screenings, free popcorn, discounts on merchandise, and free admission (depending on which level of membership you get). The different membership levels are Student, Cineaste, Auteur, and Mogul. The names that they use to market the membership programs are all names that appeal to art/independent film fans, with the exception of Student, which is merely a discounted Cineaste membership. It is one way in which the IFC center tries to draw in potential members, by using terms familiar to them. Our group found this system a bit corny, and one of our members was actually rather annoyed with how they used these titles. It shows that the IFC Center is, despite its billing as an art theater, prone to some of the same advertising techniques as the rest of the world.

There are other ways in which the IFC Center differs from a purely independent theater. It not only shows art and independent films, but also documentaries, cult classics, and Oscar Nominated Films. On weekends they focus on cult classic movies, which are often “B” movies that might not necessarily be critically acclaimed, but draw a cult following. For instance, one of their upcoming films I saw on their schedule is Starship Troopers, a visual effects-heavy blockbuster from 1997 which is rather far from art cinema.

The center definitely takes advantage of all opportunities to promote the IFC brand. When we first sat down in the theater to watch the films they had a promotional slide show rolling that had all different events, film screenings, even meet and greets with actual directors. All of the information was for the IFC center itself and intended to keep people informed so that they might come back agai. Once the lights dimmed and the film began, the previews and trailers before the movie where all films that were being shown at the center.

Other promotional tools they used were pamphlets and calendars, most of them involving the IFC center, but some were relating to B.A.M (Brooklyn Academy of Music) and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Outside of the theaters they had posters promoting films that were being shown at the center, many of which had critical acclaims printed on them, as well as film festival stamps of approval (Sundance Film Festival, Cannes, etc.)

One interesting thing I noticed was that the IFC center has a Queer Art/Film series on the last Monday of every month. Being in the village, they have obviously tried to bring in some business by promoting art from the influential culture that surrounds the IFC centers home in Greenwich Village. It is a smart marketing and promotional idea to appeal to those within close vicinity of the theater.

Finally is the fact that, like any business trying to be successful in today’s technological world, the IFC Center uses its website

and other internet outlets to help promote the brand to the masses. All of the information about scheduling, location, upcoming films, and merchandise can be found on their website. This brings out another point. The IFC Center sells T-shirts, posters, and DVDs marketed towards patrons who wish to take a half-hearted swipe at individuality without losing their right to follow where many have gone before. They also use Facebook and Twitter to tap into the social networking buzz that is so big right now. It’s clear that the profitability of the IFC Center depends on it watering down the underground film experience, making it less exclusive and keeping it supplied with a fan base.

Experience at IFC Center:

Our group had no trouble finding the IFC Center, as it is located directly behind the nearest subway entrance.

The theater had a somewhat unassuming exterior, with an overhang above the doorway which advertised a few of the films. Top billing went to the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts, which would probably have the most draw. Overall, it looked like a theater, nothing more and nothing less.

To the left of the door were two easels featuring blowups of articles from Time Out New York and The New York Times about two of the films on display in the theater. This was, at least, a sign that the theater did mean to attract views more thoughtful than the average movie-goer. Instead of calling a film “SEXY!” or “FUNNIEST COMEDY IN AMERICA!” these ads were meant to be read carefully, not just to categorize the films, show a famous face, and get a mindless viewer to point and say, “I want.” For instance, The New York Times’ article about the Oscar Nominated Shorts called them “short in time, long on wit and daring,” and opened the article with a quote from an Elizabethan poet.

After we purchased our tickets at the window to the right of the door, we were admitted to what was a cozy reception area which was, apart from its small size, very similar to the average theater interior. There was a small snack counter, a few ads, and a stairway leading up to the screening room in which the Oscar Nominated Shorts could be seen.

Along the way, the movie posters on display were a bit atypical for your average theater, distancing the theater just a bit from the huge chain theaters we’re used to. We stopped to spend a moment with the poster from Rififi, a French crime film from 1955.

To those who are not particularly versed in old French films, this is just decoration, but a cinephile would likely recognize the film and feel as if they have come to the correct theater.

Once in the screening room, we found the seats to be quite comfortable and roomy and the screen closer than a normal theater’s screen. The pre-feature ads were similar to those we all grew up on, but were centered around the IFC specifically. The feature itself showed each Oscar Nominated Short Films, as well as a few Honorable Mentions, in their entirety, including the credits. Overall, we thought the experience was better than our average movie experience, as the medium of animated short film allows for easy maintenance of interest and both moments of thoughtful interpretation and childish entertainment.

A few standouts were Pixar’s Partly Cloudy, the Wallace and Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death, The Lady and the Reaper, and Logorama. The Pixar short and the Wallace and Gromit short were entertaining, funny, and perhaps better suited to children, but we found them loveable. The Lady and the Reaper, however, maintained the good humor of the others while providing an experience more fit for thought. It even ended with the often elusive shock that many films try for, which in this case meant that the sweet old lady committed suicide after a vain doctor successfully resuscitated her too many times. Logorama, on the other hand, was by no means suitable for children, but featured in interesting use of popular logos to create all of the scenery and characters in the film. The story line was a mash-up of bad Hollywood blockbuster ideas and essentially revolved around a maniacal Ronald McDonald and an earthquake which removes California from the rest of the United States.

These films seemed to be right at home in the IFC Center. None were totally mainstream, but most were still meant to have some appeal to the average person. They were possibly closer to art film than Transformers was, but none would be too out of place in your average theater.

BAM Cinematek - Brooklyn, NY






Bloggers: Nicholas Stambuli, Erin O’Dowd, Chelsea Warner, Tariq Shabazz, and Paula Murphy

The BAM Experience

I visited BAM on February 27. The Brooklyn Academy of Music, also known as BAM, is located at 30 Lafayette, Brooklyn, in the Fort Green area. Bam Rose Cinemas is off the main street of Flatbush Ave. The Fort Green area has a great vibe. The neighborhood is home to "40 Acres and a Mule", a Spike Lee production company; it has many quirky retail shops and restaurants. The area has something for everyone. It is the quintessential Brooklyn brownstones neighborhood.

The Bam building is an architectural expression of Neoclassical Revival of the era it was built in. There are no signs on the building or advertisements to indicate the theater, only four green double doors. When you walk into the theater, the high ceilings, white walls, and green marble and white marble flooring immediately surprise you. Couches are set up in front of the ticket booth. The ticket booth is located inside to the left of the doors. There are no advertisements for the films playing until you go to buy a ticket at the ticket booth.

The film that I saw was “A Single Man” by fashion designer Tom Ford. Set in Los Angeles in the 1960’s, “A Single Man” is the story of George Falconer, a British college professor (Colin Firth)

is struggling to find meaning in his life after the death of his long-time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). The movie follows George through a single day, where a series of encounters ultimately leads him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend, Charley (Julianne Moore), a beauty in her late forties, and he is stalked by one of his students, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult). “A Single Man” received an Academy Award nomination for Colin Firth’s portrayal of professor George Falconer in the Best Actor category.

BAM shows mainstream Hollywood to independent films. The advertisements are not done in the traditional way of mainstream theaters. The only information that is given is for the mainstream movies. The four posters are set up behind the employee in the glass booth that sells the tickets. There is a small-lit screen to tell you the times and what independent films are showing, but if you want more information on an independent film you can read the pamphlet. The ticket person is very helpful if you don't know what film to see. They can recommend a film and are knowledgeable on each independent film. This is surprising when you are used to seeing teenagers managing on minimum wage in New Jersey. The theater also has a small area to purchase tickets online if you choose to do so. There' s also an information booth and two small kiosks selling Bam stuff and theater books. After you give your ticket, you proceed to the concession stand inside.

Bam has four theaters, and the main theater has a stage for performances. When I visited, the main theater was being used for an Alvin Haley dance troop performance. The small theater I was in held about 100 people. The screen and acoustics where perfect for the scale of the theater. I'm a tall person; I have come to accept that most theater seats are cramped and small with no legroom, and you are going to be uncomfortable for the entire film. When I first sat down, I was surprised that the seats are very comfortable.

There was enough legroom and I was pleased that the seats did not recline. I'm used to getting hit in the knees by the reclining seat in front of me. If the seats where to recline, it would have been very uncomfortable for me or anyone else who’s tall. The seats are set up as if you’re at a Broadway play. I like that experience watching a film.

For the evening performance in the main theater, there is a small but elegant bar set up for intermission. The up escalator brings you to the BAM café. The cafe is an upscale eatery. I was

dressed appropriately and I was immediately frowned upon. I wanted to ask some questions about BAM Café, but no one agreed to speak with me. Most of the patrons were older. The overall experience of theater was great. I plan to return for a main performance and for the Fort Green neighborhood; one goes with the other.

A Brief History of BAM

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has been a cultural jewel of the American artistic community for over one hundred and forty years. The original site of the BAM was located at 176-

Montague Street; this location burned to the ground in 1903, yet BAM has managed to be the longest running performing arts center in the country. BAM Rose Cinemas opened in 1997 to give Brooklynites the ability to see more art films without traveling to Manhattan. BAM encompasses two buildings. The BAM Havey Theatre, with 874 seats, is located on 651 Fulton Street and hosts live performances. Two blocks away is the Peter Jay Sharp Building on 30 Lafayette Ave. This is the main building which contains the Howard Gilman Opera House, Rose Cinemas, the box office, and administrative offices.

BAM has continuously found ways to balance its programming with alternative forms of art and more mainstream forms of expression.

In its first one hundred years, BAM established itself as place for expression, hosting political events, speeches, and rallies that included speakers like Frank Lloyd Wright, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony. Currently, they have multiple philanthropic programs for community outreach which has served countless NYC schools to promote neighborhood revitalization, diversity, and education.

BAM is the home of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, and it also works closely with the Sundance Institute in order to screen films and host other performances of independent artist. Another example of BAM’s dedication to independent and alternative artist is the Next Wave festival, which was started in 1983, and its presentation of Dance Africa every memorial day. This dedication to the alternative forms of art began in 1967; this was the year that “Harvey Lichtenstein took the reins and opened the institution’s historic Beaux Arts palace to modern choreographers like Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, and Alvin Ailey—who would reshape the art form of dance” (

An important point to make is that BAM is a non-profit organization; BAM was not established by the government but rather by “a group of local citizens, politicians, and business leaders came together with a progressive vision of an institution” ( With a progressive vision, BAM evolved into a haven for artists that have push the envelope in the area of artistic and cultural expression.

BAM’s Programming Strategy

Bam Cinematek has many different types of films for all different audiences. It is always showing various films from different genres and time periods. This month they are featuring a large variety of different films, everything from typical American Classics such as 1950’s Montgomery Clift films to a South Korean director’s suspense films. There are also showings exclusively for families within the BAM Family Program and films even more exclusively for kids in the BAM Kid’s Festival. With such a great diversity of films for patrons to enjoy, it is easy to see that BAM is geared towards everyone and anyone, thus creating a wide demographic audience. BAM has various showings each day, and it shows both modern and more classic films. The film lengths vary, and the show times vary from day to day. A key marketing strategy that BAM takes advantage of is special screening strategies. From speaking to a representative at BAM, I found that they show films based on director, author, theme, genre, etc.

With BAM Rose Cinemas there are 4 theaters with daily screenings. One of the screens is devoted to BAM Cinematek which has daily screenings of repertory classics and special festivals. Along with these screenings, there are frequent guest speakers. The other three screens show first run and independent films. The four theaters seat 103, 155, 272 and 222 patrons. On BAM’s website, certain films have one review per film and others do not have any reviews. The reviews often come from well-known sources such as The Boston Globe and The LA times. Other reviews are from slightly less known publications such as Time Out Sydney, Variety, and Cinematical. These reviews are often very positive, praising the film and the director, trying to get people to come see these films. The main person who decides which films to play is Joseph V. Melilo, the executive producer of BAM since 1999. He has a lot of experience in artistic programming. He has been the artistic director of festivals such as NY International Festival for the Arts, New World Festival of the Arts Miami, and many others. Since he began working at BAM there have been many awards and positive feedback of his work.

BAM’s Promotional Strategy

With their homage to classic, international, and independent cinema, BAM sets itself apart from other theatres. They aren’t about putting the latest blockbuster on their screen to guarantee ‘meat in the seat’ and large profits from showing high grossing popular films; they have a classy mission statement in which you can tell they truly care about film as an artistic experience as opposed to a race for profits.

The Gift Memberships are a great way to attract people in the long run because they offer so much to the patron. There are deals such as 50% off Artist Talks tickets, discounts at the cafes and kiosks, BAMbus discount, and coupons for local restaurants. The BAM Cinema Club membership includes priority access to special screenings and events, special discussions with filmmakers, discounts on over thirty local restaurants, BAM Café discounts, a special gym membership rate, and much more.

With their very easy to read directions and maps on the BAM website, BAM makes it easy for people to get to the theatre; additionally, the BAMbus provides post-film transportation to the Manhattan area. Their flyers are vibrantly eye-catching and include a lot of large-print easy-to-read words, unlike a lot of other theater pamphlets that have very small words and no pictures. BAM’s handouts really capture your attention!

BAM attracts even more people by having directors come out and view their films with the audience, and performing Q&A segments and discussions following the film viewing. BAM also appeals to crowds of all ages, not just older generations; there are free BAM Fan parties for Cimema Club members in their 20s and 30s. They also make it easy to attract people who aren’t typical film buffs by showing some normal Hollywood movies. Shutter Island is a current staple at BAM. People will come to see the mainstream films and become curious about the other independent movies and events that BAM has to offer. Aesthetically, the opera style theater and overall regality of the theater makes people want to come back for more. The somewhat formal attire of patrons and the upscale décor give the appearance of a highbrow atmosphere that many moviegoers prefer over the common city cinema.

BAM is one of the largest theatres I’ve seen; it encompasses it’s main building on Lafayette Ave and the BAM Harvey Theatre a few blocks away on Fulton Street. The theatre is also only five blocks away from Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus. Combined with its variety of community service programs throughout NYC, the breadth of BAM seems to promote itself. Like any important historical monument, BAM does not need extensive advertising to reach its market. BAM is a common name in independent cinema, and even other cinemateks in NYC—such as the Angelika—distribute brochures promoting BAM.

An Interview with Langlois’ Ghost

Henri Langlois co-founded the Cinematheque Francaise, a Paris-based film theatre and

museum and perhaps the most applauded and idealistic outlets of cinephilia. Who better critique BAM Cinematek than the man who changed the way the world looks at theatre? Our group asked Langlois a series of questions about BAM and created responses that we believe he would fully support.

Q: “Do you agree with the way BAM organizes and shows their films?”

Langlois: “It’s excellent! Showing films grouped by common themes, time periods, auteurs, or actors allows you to bring in all the great discussions afterwards. You can truly see the various roles an actor plays or how different auteur’s create their own expressions on a common theme. I especially love the discussions with the directors after the movie. That personal connection and interpretation is what art is all about. The movies for children are a nice touch as well. Cinephilia isn’t about having an experience; it’s about creating a culture, so what better way to build that culture than to draw in the attention of children.”

Q: “What about the types of films?”

Langlois: “It’s terrific that they show all these independent films, but it would be better if they promoted the real underground films instead of those that won some festival award…the true experimental artists who are not so much trying to make a name for themselves as they are a representation of their vision. That is where you find the pure artistry. I guess not everyone sees the world through a child’s eyes. You know? Wanting to experience everything they’ve never touched before. Someone like Melilo does a good job at pulling the audience into those independent films, but he should stop following trends and start creating them. Drive the bandwagon, not become a passenger.”

Q: “BAM doesn’t have a specific dress code; it’s more of an implied one. Does film belong to the highbrow?”

Langlois: “Hah! Highbrow, lowbrow, middlebrow, unibrow, what’s the difference. Art is a great equalizer that everyone can appreciate. The lights go out and we are all watching the same film. In a dark theatre, you don’t know who has the high-class bag or the double-breasted jacket; the back of everyone’s head looks the same. Cinema should be an appreciation of expression, not an ascertain of class. If you want to dress up, fine. But that does not make its patrons superior to the countless great minds under shabby clothes.”

Q: “Last question, Mr. Langlois. We had a hard time contacting management for interviews and tours. They actually never got back to us, and the secretary laughed and told us ‘they’re too busy for that right now.’ What’s your take?”

Langlois: “With such a large theatre, it’s hard to return every call. There were countless times when I was tied up on the phone, short-staffed, and over-worked. It’s tough keeping a large business going while maintaining that connection with your patrons. Not everyone has my work ethics and can stay up until 3am just to talk about the movies they love. However, that drive to embrace your patrons and attempt to make them as passionate about movies as I am is what motivates me to work so hard. That vision should never be lost, no matter how big a theatre gets…Revolutionaries lead by example; cinephilia is no different. Maybe BAM should work on its mission statement. What are they first and foremost? A community service group? A filler for highbrow leisure? Cinephilia should not be a secondary hobby; it is a lifestyle that BAM should be enthusiastic to promote.”

Film Forum

It opened in 1970 as a screening space for independent films with only 50 folding chairs, a single projector and a $19,000 annual budget. It is still today the only non-profit movie theatre in New York City and one of very few in the U.S. In 1972, Karen Cooper took the reins as director and soon moved the Film Forum to the Vandam Theatre in 1975.In 1980, Cooper began construction on a 2-screened cinema on Watts St. Then in 1989, New York City construction demolished the theatres which paved way to the current 3-screened theatre at 209 West Houston St. open year round, with 25,000 annual visitors, 489 seats, and a $4.1 million operating budget. Film and television stars such as Christopher Walkin and the late Christopher Reeves would often go to the theatre. The third screen is solely dedicated to extended runs of crowd favorite from both programs as well as films running with longer engagements. In 2010, they are celebrating their 40th Anniversary which has had their theatre bustling with patrons, new and old. Unlike Hollywood film cinemas, Film Forum looks past the gross potential of films and carefully curates films with much social, political, historical, and cultural significance.

The premiere films are selected by Film Forum’s Director, Karen Cooper and Programmer and Publicist, Mike Maggiore. The revivals of classics, festivals, and directors’ Retrospectives are selected by the Director of Repertory Programming, Bruce Goldstein. In order to find the best new domestic and international cinema, staff travels to places such as Berlin, Sundance, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam annually and also read film publications from around the world. The programming staff at Film Forum request videotapes and DVDs from various filmmakers and preview numerous films all year long. The Film Forum staff looks for films that break the rules, deal with controversial and provocative subject matter, tell stories in new ways, treat relevant social, historical and political realities in an original and cutting-edge way, and of course give new, upcoming filmmakers the opportunity to receive a view from the public for the first time. As for the Repertory Programming, Bruce Goldstein likes to bring new audiences and critical attention to the screen’s masters through its retrospectives. He programs rare films that are curated from the world’s archives and collectors and secures new 35mm prints of the classics.

Film Forum accommodates to the older sophisticate audience. The presence of a café and posters of upcoming films encased in glass give the theater a sense of exclusivity. We noted that the use of the word “superb” describing the film “Lourdes” could only be found at a theater such as Film Forum. This kind of critique is representative of it’s cultured crowd. The films shown are thought provoking and classic art cinema which draws in a high brow audience. The platform and décor offer a simple and homey setting giving the theatre a hometown feel, free from corporate influence.
This idea of warmth and originality also draws in a younger crowd. The lobby space resembles a dated coffee house, which serves to allow friends and staff a space to share ideas about the films and even current events, music, and other branches of art in youth culture.