New York City Building a Documentary-Only Movie Theater Next Year
by Alex Billington
October 8, 2012
Source: NY Times
Like documentaries? "We haven't found another theater like this one yet and there is a need for what we’re doing." Exactly. A small post on the NY Times' Arts Beat blog mentions that in the next year, New York City is getting one of the first ever documentary-only movie theaters. The nonprofit "Downtown Community Television Center" (website) will be spending $3.2 million to renovate their Chinatown location to build a 73-seat state-of-the-art theater that will indeed only show "first-run nonfiction films throughout the year, providing a meeting place for established and emerging filmmakers and their audiences." Genius. I'm there!
The report states that the firehouse at 87 Lafayette Street (photo above) will be the launching grounds for the announcement next week, where James Gandolfini will be the honorary chairman. That event will mark the DCTV's 40th anniversary and the groundbreaking of the new documentary theater. The idea comes directly from husband-and-wife filmmakers Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, who own/run the nonprofit DCTV organization. "This has the capacity to connect with documentary lovers anywhere," says Alpert, and I completely agree. They're spending that $3M to build a "3,500-square-foot, 73-seat state-of-the-art theater, which will include 4K digital cinema" and be finished in about a year after construction begins next March.
New York City already has its fair share of high quality, independent-dedicated film houses, including the Film Forum NYC, the Angelika Film Center, the Lincoln Center Film Society and of course any of the Landmark-owned theatres. However, none of those are specifically documentary-only, for obvious financial reasons, and because if you have more than one screen, why not run any/all good content, even if it's fiction. That said, I love this idea and will definitely support this new doc theater once it's completed and ready for exhibition. Even though it sounds like that won't be until 2014. At least it's officially in the works!
The report says that most of the financing for the $3.2 million construction job comes from a combination of public and private sources, among them the Office of the Mayor of New York City, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Office of the New York City Council and the Rockefeller Foundation. It seems like New York City itself is very supportive of this entire initiative. This is why I love New York. It's a city that actually seems as concerned and passionate about the public access and exhibition of arts as much as it supports the development/creation of them. We'll keep you updated on other unique theaters in the works.
Spiffy! I'm game to go to this once it opens, though 73 seats sounds a bit small.
David Kinskey-Lebeda on Oct 8, 2012
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