Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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.

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