COVID-19 Preparedness Resources

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As of March 15, 2020 many art house cinemas have made the difficult decision to temporarily close to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, a novel coronavirus that causes respiratory illness. Art houses have taken this step in compliance with public health guidelines and in solidarity with their communities. 

In order to help our network navigate this rapidly evolving situation, Art House Convergence is updating this webpage daily. To facilitate resource sharing we have also created an open database for art houses and festivals that we will be reviewing regularly.

On March 16 the White House advised people to avoid gathering in groups of 10 or more for two weeks, an intensification of the CDC ‘s recommendation to cancel or postpone events with more than 50 attendees for 8 weeks (March 15 – May 10, 2020), prompting the closure of theaters throughout the United States.

During temporary closures, art houses around the world are working together to innovate and develop film programming and education for digital platforms. Art House Convergence strongly encourages film lovers to invest in their local art house now so that theaters can continue to serve them in the future. 

Administration & CARES Act
Advocate for Arts Funding and Support
Online Platforms and Solutions
Virtual Cinemas
Virtual Live Events 
Bringing Programming Online
Bringing Education Online 
Member Benefits
Revenue
Communications
Fundraising
Reduce Expenses
Operations
Accessibility
Human Resources & Staffing
Prevent the Spread of Misinformation & Racist Rhetoric
Resources for Individuals
Mitigation When Open
More Resources


Temporarily closed? Add your art house here.

Administration & CARES Act

    • Review updated tax provisions. Tax return filing dates have been extended to July 15, 2020 and corporate tax payments are delayed until October 15, 2020. Read more here.
    • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
      • Download the Small Business Owners Guide.
      • Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses with under 500 employees may qualify for federally guaranteed loans to cover the cost of payroll and may be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent on costs including payroll, rent, and utilities. Small businesses are eligible to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Read more here. Access the application here.
      • Emergency Economic Disaster Loans. This program provides emergency advances of up to $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits harmed by COVID-19. EIDLs are low interest loans of up to $2million. These grants are available between January 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Apply here.
      • Small Business Debt Relief Program. This program provides relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and micro-loans. SBA will cover all payments on these loans including principal, interest, and fees for six months.
      • Employee Retention Credit. This provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during COVID-19 crisis.  The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings.  This credit is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. More information available here.
      • Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes. This provision would allow taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA taxes, the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer FICA rate), and half of SECA tax liability. This deferral is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
      • Seeking support from a business counselor? Find a local resource partner here.
    • Review updated tax provisions. Tax return filing dates have been extended to July 15, 2020 and corporate tax payments are delayed until October 15, 2020. Read more here.
    • Contact your landlord or lender, renegotiate payments schedules and terms.
    • Review your insurance policy and contact your insurance provider to determine if your business interruption and liability insurance include any coverage for an outbreak in your community. Even without explicit coverage for pandemics of communicable diseases, theaters can file a claim.
    • Review existing contracts and check force majeure and cancellation clauses to ensure that they include protection during epidemics and pandemics. Communicate with your board and key stakeholders about financial risks and liability.
    • Contact you vendors and suppliers, anticipate changes in demand and respond accordingly.
    • Protect your liquidity. Assess how long you can operate during a period of temporary closure and identify expense reductions that can extend this period. Make financial plans for variable outcomes ranging from 1-12 months of potential interruptions.

Advocate for Arts Funding and Support

Online Platforms and Solutions

Virtual Cinemas

  • What are virtual cinema screenings? Virtual cinema screenings are ticketed screenings of films unavailable on any other VOD platform that viewers can enjoy from the privacy of their own home. Once a customer purchases a ticket they will receive access to a temporary film rental.
  • How can viewers enjoy a virtual screening? Audiences can buy tickets through their local art house cinema.
  • How does this support independent theaters? Virtual screenings allow theaters to keep programming films, even when their doors are closed. A portion of each ticket sale will go directly to the buyer’s local art house cinema.
  • Which films are available? Distrib Films, Film Movement, Grasshopper, Kino Lorber, Magnolia, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope, and Sentient.Art.Films are all currently offering virtual cinema screenings.
  • How many films should my theater book at once? We recommend theaters offer the same number of films they usually do. If you regularly book four films and have capacity to market, promote, and discuss four, then you should adhere to your established model.
  • How do we help our patrons navigate the tech? Offer a FAQ like this one from the Coolidge or this one from the Jacob Burns Film Center.
  • ArtMattan Films. Currently Foreign Body, Gurumbé: Afro-Andalusian MemoriesNaomi’s Journey, The Man Who Mends Women: The Wrath of Hippocrates, The Citizen, Sins of the Flesh, Uncovered, Rosa Chumbe, 2 Weeks in Lagos and Tazzeka are available. Watch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.
  • Distrib Films: Currently Balloon and The Perfect Nanny are availableWatch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.
  • Film Movement: Film Movement is offering films through Film Movement Plus – Virtual Cinema. Currently Corpus ChristiZombi ChildThe Wild Goose LakeL’Innocente, The Etruscan Smileand Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands are available. Watch on your computer, tablet, Chromecast or through the Film Movement Plus app for Roku, AppleTV, AndroidTV, and FireTV.
  • Grasshopper: Currently Vitalina Varela is available.
  • Kino Lorber: Kino Lorber is offering films through Kino Marquee. Currently Bacurau,  Beanpole, Mephisto and Sorry We Missed You are available. Watch on your computer, tablet, Chromecast, or through the Kino Now app on Roku or AppleTV.
  • Magnolia: Currently The Whistlers and Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson are available. Before April 2, 100% of proceeds go to the host theater. Watch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.
  • Music Box Films: Music Box Films is offering films through Music Box StreamLocal. Currently And Then We Danced is available. Watch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.
  • Oscilloscope Films: Currently Saint Frances is available. Watch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.
  • Sentient.Art.Films: Sentient.Art.Films is offering films through Sentient 1000. Currently No Data Plan is available. Watch on your computer, tablet, Chromecast, or through the Vimeo app on Roku or AppleTV.
  • Zeitgeist Films: Currently The Woman Who Loves Giraffes is available through Kino Marquee. Watch on your computer, tablet, or via Chromecast.

Virtual Live Events (and Security)

  • Staff as you would any special program.
  • Keep your event secure. For Zoom, this means never post your link publicly, and adjust settings, to make sure the host has control over the meeting.
    • Participant Video (Off)
    • Join Before Host (Off)
    • Mute Participants Upon Entry (On)
    • File Transfer (Off)
    • Screen Sharing (Off)
    • Allow removed participants to rejoin (Off).

Bringing Programming Online

  • In partnership with Nitehawk Cinema, Film Bot is developing Movie Night, live virtual special events featuring screenings and filmmaker Q&As. Audience members will be able to dedicate their ticket purchase to their local art house. If you are interested in participating, sign up here.
  • Have a viewing party using live streaming technologies like Vimeo, Twitch, or Facebook Live. Recently the Belcourt Theatre hosted a Space Jam viewing party using Twitch, and Northwest Film Forum and the Ann Arbor Film Festival brought their film festivals online including filmmaker conversations using Vimeo.
  • Help your audience navigate streaming platforms with curated lists and staff picks. The Old Greenbelt Theatre recently created a list of animation for kids, and Coral Gables Art Cinema has been curating three films daily for their virtual series Gables Cinema Drive-In.
  • Host a virtual Q&As or talk back. Bright Lights at Emerson has an April conversation planned with director Rachel Mason about her film Circus of Books.
  • Host Online Trivia via Zoom or Facebook Live.
  • Seed&Spark is developing a solution that will allow festivals to take their program online. Read their 2020 Film Festival Survival Pledge, download the one sheet here, and fill out their survey here.
  • Sign up for the biweekly working group here. The next meeting will be Thursday April 9 at 1pm PT/ 4pm ET.

Bringing Education Online

  • Adapt class structure for your new platform. Consider keeping class duration to 1-2 hours, and find ways to engage participants using chat functions.
  • Avid (through April) and Adobe Creative Cloud (through May) are offering temporary remote licenses for educational customers. If you are already a customer you might qualify.
  • Teach a found footage production class. Filmmaker Irene Lusztig (Yours in Sisterhood) has created a database of accessible online digital movie image materials.
  • Invite faculty or your education team to partner on an education seminar via Zoom. Check out the Belcourt’s Anatomy of Cinema
  • Sign up for the biweekly working group here. The next meeting will be Wednesday April 8 at 10am PT/ 1pm ET.

Member Benefits

  • MUBI, a curated streaming service for art house and independent films, is offering 3 months of free streaming access to your art house’s members complete with a bespoke landing page for your theater. Email knewmark(at)mubi.com for details.
  • Music Box Direct, a streaming service featuring films including Transit and Frantz, is offering one month of free streaming access to your art house’s members. Email bschultz(at)musicboxfilms.com for details.
  • Engage filmmakers, professors, and staff to host special virtual happy hours and film conversations as member benefits.

Revenue

  • Mobilize your members, encourage people to donate ticket revenue for cancelled programs.
  • Oscilloscope Films wants to partner with art houses to promote a digital SXSW showcase, and pay them a marketing fee. Interested theaters can sign up here.
  • Magnolia Selects and Spotlight Cinema Networks are offering art house theaters 100% of the subscription fees when their patrons sign up for Magnolia Selects.  After July 1, fees will be divided on a 50/50 split between the theater and Spotlight/ Magnolia. Read more here.
  • Encourage sponsors to support your new initiatives and virtual programs. Offer email logo placement as a sponsor benefit.
  • Reach out to local community foundations and emergency grant programs.
  • Remain active and keep your supporters updated about progress.
  • Have a virtual fundraiser. Seed&Spark is working to develop crowd funding solutions for theaters. Download their one-sheet here and fill out their survey here. Consider virtual Q&As, swag, and posters as benefits.

Communications & Marketing 

Fundraising

  • Continue to celebrate your mission. Arts and culture still matter, continue to make your unique mission central to your conversations with donors.
  • Tell your story. Explain what support will be used for and personalize your asks.
  • Pace yourself. Because of uncertainty about the duration of closures, roll out fundraising initiatives slowly.
  • Mobilize your Board. Encourage Board members who are able to pay dues in advance.

Reduce Expenses

  • Cancel all non-essential subscriptions including software, all advertising (print, social media, digital), concessions ordering, and shipping.
  • Adjust your thermostat.
  • Contact your landlord about rent relief. Research business eviction protections in your city or town.
  • Contact your bank or lender about mortgage or loan payment relief.

Operations 

  • Carefully annotate your building closing checklist. Make sure multiple staffers have the tools and information they need for data backups, bank deposits, building security, and reopening.
  • Prepare your projectors and servers for an extended shutdown. Instructions from Boston Light & Sound are available here.
  • Check concession stands for perishable items. The Onyx Theatre in Nevada City, CA donated remaining treats to staff.
  • Establish a telecommuting infrastructure.
  • Communicate closure to distributors, Deluxe, and Cinevizion.

Accessibility

Human Resources & Staffing 

  • Remain in regular communication with staff. Leadership should establish clear communications plans to help team members understand workflow and decision making.
  • Counter stigma by disseminating accurate information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Speak out against negative behaviors, and maintain employee confidentiality.
  • Establish compassionate and clearly communicated staffing protocols to account for workplace disruptions. Plan for work redistribution, flexible schedules, and increased absenteeism.
  • If staff need to perform work onsite provide additional supplies to regularly clean workspaces (alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, tissues, hands-free waste receptacles).
  • Ensure that your sick and leave policies are consistent with public health guidelines and that staff are informed about these policies. Whenever possible, offer paid sick leave.
  • All employee health information is confidential, even during a crisis. Employers should not reveal the identities of infected employees.
  • In most circumstances the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking employees about health conditions. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does allow for some exceptions to mitigate the negative impact of pandemics in the workplace. The EEOC recommends that employers follow CDC guidelines and has provided additional guidance about employer actions during an influenza pandemic.

Prevent the Spread of Misinformation and Racist Rhetoric

  • Do not ignore racist remarks, condemn racist rhetoric and actions when they occur.
  • Do not use images or terms that reinforce negative stereotypes like “Wuhan virus.”
  • Discuss and enforce anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies with volunteers and staff.
  • Monitor social media platforms for racist behaviors.
  • Craft your own public statement. Resources are available from the Association for Asian American Studies and Asian American Journalists Association.

Resources for Individuals 

  • Pioneer’s Assistance Fund  COVID-19 Emergency Grant: One-time grants for movie theater workers laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19.
  • Learn how to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • You may be able to temporarily pause payments on Federal Student Loans without interest accruing. Read more here.
  • If your employer provided health-insurance has been terminated you may qualify for medicaid. Read more here.
  • The CDC currently recommends that individuals and families have access to two weeks worth of important supplies and medications. However, do not stockpile. Panic buying masks, cleaning supplies, canned goods, and sanitizers contributes to shortages, price gouging, and puts vulnerable community members at risk.

Mitigation When Open

  • Include a public announcement about steps your theater is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Discourage sick patrons from attending screenings. Offer full refunds to sick patrons.
  • Enhance cleaning efforts: prepare cleaning checklists, stagger screenings to allow more time for cleaning between shows, regularly clean surfaces and touch-points (knobs, railings, touchscreens, dispensers).
  • Make hand sanitizer, napkins, tissues, and soap readily available to guests.
  • Make trash cans readily available for the disposal of tissues and napkins. Change trash regularly.
  • Reduce capacity so that audience members can sit 2-3 seats apart.
  • Post hand washing instructions at sinks.
  • Minimize touching customers phones, credit cards, and tickets. If possible allow customers to swipe or insert cards themselves.

More Resources

Note: We will regularly update this post as the situation evolves. Last updated at 9:41 AM ET on April 2, 2020.

Visiting Members Program: Tip of the Sunshine State

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The Art House Convergence Visiting Members Program provides reciprocal membership benefits to members from all of its participating theaters. Are you a devoted art house member ready for adventure? Art House Convergence is providing travel tips and resources for film aficionados ready to visit some of the United States’ best art houses.

This spring break escape the cold clutches of winter and travel down to the tip of Florida, where you’ll be able to soak up the sun while checking out four amazing art houses across three cities, a National Park, and the southernmost point of the continental US while traveling over 40 bridges and miles of beaches. While only a four hour drive, there’s enough along this famed stretch to last four days (or longer).

The Classic Gateway Theatre, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Since 1951 – The Classic Gateway Theatre has dimmed the lights for crowds of moviegoers. Featuring an eclectic mix of first run upscale and independent films, as well as the occasional mainstream hit. Audience members walk into a spacious lobby with a sit down café and the theatre’s long history gracing the walls while the smell of the world’s best popcorn engulfs you – before settling into their seats in the renovated all digital auditoriums with new reclining leather rocker seats. In addition to regular movies, the theatre hosts special events such as indie & LGBT film festivals.

The Coral Gables Art Cinema Coral Gables, FL

The Coral Gables Art Cinema is a state-of-the-art theater that opened in October of 2010 and is one of the best, most comfortable, and highest grossing art houses in South Florida, presenting first-run and regional premieres of quality American independent and international features, both fiction and documentary, in addition to classic films, special programs and film festival events, which speak to the multilingual and multicultural diversity of the region.

O Cinema Miami, FL

Located in the heart of the historic Art Deco District, O Cinema South Beach brings the best in independent, foreign and art films to South Florida audiences year-round. Located inside Historic City Hall at the corner of Washington Avenue and 12 street, the theater boasts sophisticated European-inspired design and offers affordable and engaging cultural alternatives to the nightlife of the area.

Tropic Cinema Key West, FL

The Tropic Cinema opened its doors in Old Town Key West in 2004. They had one simple idea: to bring quality movies to people who longed for something more than Hollywood blockbusters. Their artistically diverse island community deserved to see amazing independent films, international favorites and cinematic classics — film that appealed to folks who value going beyond the usual. What started as a small, two-screen nonprofit theater quickly expanded to a four-screen multiplex with state-of-the-art digital projection, an art gallery, extensive concessions, and lounge.

On the Road…

En route from Fort Lauderdale to Miami to Key West, stop off at a National Park, visit the sites (and cats!) of a literary landmark, and catch the sunset from the the lowest latitude marker of the continental United States.

The Kampong  Miami, FL

While in Miami, head to the Coconut Grove neighborhood to visit The Kampong botanical garden. Located on Biscayne Bay, The Kampong is one of five locations of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a non-profit dedicated to tropical plant research and conservation. The garden is located on the former estate of horticulturalist David Fairchild and contains plant collections from Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Be sure to book a tour in advance.

Calle Ocho Miami, FL

Located in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Calle Ocho is home to Cuban restaurants, bars,  shops, and Domino Park. Restaurants in the area include the well-known Versailles which frequently tops must-try lists and regularly attracts combination of locals and tourists, El Cristo where the menu highlights include seafood and Cuban sandwiches, and Sanguich de Miami where twists on classic sandwiches have earned the eatery the accolades of best sandwich in the city.

Everglades National Park Homestead, FL

Driving South from Miami to Key West you will pass Everglades National Park “an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther.”  Access this largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. through its main entrance in Homestead, Florida. From the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, you can drive to the Royal Palm Visitor Center to access Pine Island hiking trails or head to the Flamingo Marina for kayaking.

Florida Keys

En route to Key West you will pass through the 44 islands of the Florida Keys. Visit Indian Key Historic State Park (accessible only by boat) to kayak seagrass flats and visit 19th century ruins,  Curry Hammock State Park for its mangrove swamps, or the picturesque beaches of Bahia Hondo State Park for swimming and kayaking. Stop throughout for fresh seafood, conch fritters, and the local classic Key Lime Pie (the area features multiple contenders for best in the U.S. including Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe)

The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum Key West, FL

Located just half a mile from Tropic Cinema in Old Town Key West is The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West for ten years, and the home has been preserved with many of his design and decorative flourishes including 18th century furniture, tropical gardens, and in-ground swimming pool (an incredible luxury in the 1930s). While touring the property be sure to keep your eyes open for the large population of polydactyl cats.

Southernmost Point Buoy

Once you made it to Key West stop at Southernmost Point Buoy, the southernmost point of the continental U.S. and the perfect place to catch your breath and maybe a sunset.

TIFF ’19: Art House Convergence Joins the Conversation

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At TIFF 2019 Art House Convergence Managing Director Alison Kozberg and Programming Track Head Sarah-Tai Black joined conversations at the Industry Conference about the theatrical experience and decolonizing the screen.

The Big Screen: Have Rumors of My Demise Been Greatly Exaggerated?

A panel of industry experts will debate the state of the cinematic experience, discuss industry and audience trends, as well as discuss the new opportunities that today’s marketplace offers.

Alison Kozberg leads Art House Convergence, a North American association for art house cinemas that provides resources and networking opportunities to hundreds of cinema exhibitors each year through its conferences and events. Kozberg was previously director of the Nickelodeon Theatre, where she ran cinema programming and operations. She has also led symposia and special events for a wide range of theatres and museums.

Anick Poirier is co-president at WaZabi Films, licensing quality art-house with crossover potential feature films worldwide. WaZabi Films, a division of DATSIT Sphere Inc., represents Cannes Official Selections Matthias et Maxime (19) and A Brother’s Love (19), to name a few. Poirier was previously senior vice-president for Seville International, eOne’s boutique sales outfits

Matthew Ball is a two-time digital media executive. From 2016 to 2018, he served the global head of strategy for Amazon Studios, and prior to that was a director at the Chernin Group, a digital media investment company founded by long-time Newscorp COO and 20th Century Fox CEO Peter Chernin. Today, he is a venture capitalist focused primarily on interactive media.

Eli Glasner is an arts reporter and film critic with CBC. Each Friday, his reviews can be heard on CBC News Network, as well as his weekly appearances on many local radio shows

Engage @ TIFF: Pan-Africanism in the Caribbean & Decolonizing the Screen

This session focuses on the overlapping yet distinct notions of post-colonialism, pan-Africanism, and the diasporas of the Caribbean, and how they can engage in and maintain a filmic conversation with the African continent. Speakers include Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Co–Executive Director of Third Horizon, and host Claire Diao, film critic and co-founder of the pan-African film journal Awotélé.


Co-programmed with Engage, a series of panels and think tanks engaged in pertinent, challenging, and multi-faceted questions facing the African film industry now.

Sarah-Tai Black is a film programmer, arts curator, and writer living in Toronto. She is the programming coordinator at Images Festival and has worked as a member of TIFF’s festival programming team. She is also one of the directors of the Royal Cinema, where she programs a monthly series called Black Gold.

Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Barbadian filmmaker, writer and co-executive director of the Miami-based Caribbean filmmaking and arts collective Third Horizon. Its annual Third Horizon Film Festival celebrates and empowers the new creatives emerging from the region.

Claire Diao is a French and Burkinabè journalist and film critic. She founded in 2013 the Quartiers Lointains short film touring program, co-founded in 2015 the pan-African film critic magazine Awotele, and has been the CEO of Sudu Connexion since 2016. Her essay, “Double Vague, le nouveau souffle du cinéma français,” was published by Au Diable Vauvert in 2017. She is also a host of the TV talk show Ciné Le Mag on Canal+, Une dose de ciné on France O, and takes part in Le Cercle on Canal+. Diao received the 2018 Beaumarchais Medal from the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

Renee Robinson is the film commissioner of Jamaica and a multilingual creative economy strategist and thought leader. She has two decades of management experience within the verticals of film, television, digital entertainment, and communications, in Canada, Europe, the US, South Africa, and the Caribbean. She holds a master’s in communications and culture with a specialization in the management of telecom innovation, with joint coursework in the MBA in arts management, from York University, and a bachelor’s in art studio and art history from Williams College.

Roxy_Theater

Around the Art House: National Parks, Volume 1 – Northwest

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Andy Brodie

Adventurous movie lovers trekking to our treasured national parks can trade big skies for big screens with trips to nearby art house gems. In National Parks, Volume 1, we focus our lens on the Northwest with three art house-national park pairings.

Yellowstone National Park, WY + Art House Cinema and Pub, Billings, MT

 

babcock_billings

Approximately four hours away from Yellowstone, the United States’ first national park, is Billings, Montana, home to the Art House Cinema and Pub.

Driving from Billings you will be able to easily access the park’s North Entrance (90-W to 89-S) or East Entrance (90-W to 310-E to 120-E to Highway 20). Use the North Entrance to visit Mammoth Hot Springs and enjoy the Boiling River thermal soaking area. Use the East Entrance to visit Yellowstone Lake, formed by volcanic eruptions, and the Hayden and Pelican Valleys.

Art House Cinema and Pub was established as a non-profit by Billings native Matt Blakeslee, who worked with local architects to convert an old downtown bowling alley into a single-screen cinema with room for future expansion. Serving craft beers on tap and specialty sodas alongside art house new releases and select rep screenings, Art House Cinema and Pub is the perfect place to relax before or after your Yellowstone expedition.

Opened in 2015, Art House’s first house seats 80 and features at least two new release films each week plus special events. Having been quickly embraced by the Billings community, Art House is also fundraising to support plans for two additional screens, more space for food and drink, plus new programs to support education and community engagement.

In addition to their dedicated home, Art House manages The Babcock Theatre, a 750-seat historic theatre built in downtown Billings in 1907. The Babcock has had a storied history, with the latest chapter starting in 2018 when the City of Billings purchased the property and awarded stewardship to the Art House organization.

Glacier National Park, MT + The Roxy Theater,  Missoula, MT

 

In Montana, hiker’s paradise Glacier National Park sits 3 hours north of The Roxy Theater in Missoula, MT.

The site of over 700 trails, alpine forests, and over 130 lakes, Glacier National Park is a stunning destination for camping, hiking, and nature photography. Driving north from Missoula (93-N to US-2) will take you to West Glacier and the West Lake and Apgar Ranger Stations adjacent to Lake McDonald — a lake created by glacial carving.

The college town of Missoula will offer the perfect beginning or end to a visit to Glacier National Park, and the Roxy is located in the heart of downtown. Sitting beneath a terrific art deco marquee, The Roxy has fully embraced its natural surroundings, with a mission “to inspire, educate and engage diverse audiences about the natural and human worlds through cinematic and cultural events.” In addition to year-round programming featuring new releases and classic films, the Roxy also hosts two annual film festivals: International Wildlife Film Festival (IWFF) and the Montana Film Festival.

The Roxy originally opened in 1937 and operated until 1994 when a fire destroyed the theater. Having started in 1977 at the University of Montana, IWFF purchased the building to make the Roxy its home. The re-birthed Roxy launched year-round programming in 2013 and now features three screens with both state-of-the-art digital cinema and 35mm film projection.

Olympic National Park, WA + Rose Theatre, Port Townsend, WA

 

rose2_porttownsend

Located on the coast of Washington sits Olympic National Park, a lush, coastal wilderness. The park is just one hour west of the small city of Port Townsend, the site of Victorian Seaport architecture and the Rose Theatre.

To access Olympic National Park from Port Townsend head west (20-W to 101-W) and to gain direct access to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center and Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.  Hurricane Ridge is the most accessible mountain area in the park, from there you can access campgrounds at Deer Park and in the Elwha Valley. Before your visit, check for road closures and restoration projects and to learn about the park’s other incredible ecosystems: subalpine forest and wildflower meadow, temperate forest, and the rugged Pacific coast.

The beautiful Port Townsend offers a perfect addition to the trip — visit the downtown waterfront, cafes and restaurants before heading to a screening at the Rose Theatre.

Opened as a vaudeville house in 1907, the Rose followed a similar route of many live theaters, eventually transitioning to film. The Rose has screened films from the silent era to the talkies to being Port Townsend’s treasured art house home today, with three screens, local beers on tap, and each show personally introduced by a Rose host.

Andy Brodie is a writer and film worker based in Brooklyn, New York. An Iowa native, he co-founded both FilmScene in Iowa City, and the Des Moines Film Society. He is also founder and programmer of Short Order, a short film series presented with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

Countering Xenophobia as an Art House

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Art house cinemas have been the beneficiaries of foreign-language films for over seventy years. Racism and xenophobia threaten our core values and are irreconcilable with our priorities of culture and community.

At its inception, the art house movement provided a forum for empathy and understanding, exposing American audiences to perspectives and experiences from around the world.* On February 25, 1946, a subtitled print of Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City (Roma, cittá aperta) debuted at the World Theatre in New York, initiating a record-breaking twenty-one month run that presaged the ascendance of a vibrant U.S. art film market anchored by the exhibition of foreign films. 

Rome Open City was applauded by critics around the world for its moving depiction of the struggle to resist fascism during the Nazi occupation of Rome. One of its most memorable and heartbreaking scenes is of a forced family separation — made all the more painful by its contemporary relevance. 

As exhibitors we have the privilege to share artworks of complexity, artistry, and empathy, and to amplify voices that are too often unheard in our communities. We have the opportunity to host conversations and cultivate common ground instead of cruel division. We have influence, and with that, responsibility.

We have a responsibility to denounce racist rhetoric and actions, to develop programming in solidarity with people when they are vulnerable, to provide a forum for a global community of filmmakers, and to reject efforts to cast hate-speech and discrimination as merely “racially-charged” or alternative points of view.

During recent weeks U.S. government officials have forcibly separated families and detained immigrants and refugees in unsanitary and unsafe facilities. They have used racist rhetoric to justify these actions and in attempts to silence dissent, sow hatred, and provoke violence.

We can respond to this by elevating our art houses as spaces of healing and collaboration. We have the opportunity to program films from around the world to celebrate the creativity and perspectives of filmmakers of diverse races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and nationalities.

I am inspired by art houses’ devotion to their communities and know that we will combat vitriol and discord with art, dialogue, and critical discourse bolstered by ethical clarity and conviction

Sincerely,
Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence

* Though foreign-language films screened in the United States prior to World War II, the number of art house exhibitors, volume of foreign-language film exhibition, and the general public’s awareness of art cinemas increased substantially after the war. For histories of the post-war art house movement consult Tino Balio, The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens 1946 – 1973 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010) and Barbara Wilinsky, Sure Seaters: The Emergence of Art House Cinema. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

Visiting Members Program: IFC Center to Colonial Theatre

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The Art House Convergence Visiting Members Program provides reciprocal membership benefits to members from all of its participating theaters. Are you a devoted art house member ready for adventure? Art House Convergence is providing travel tips and resources for film aficionados ready to visit some of the United States’ best art houses.

This summer head from IFC Center in New York City to Phoenixville, PA for the legendary Blobfest at the Colonial Theatre, and don’t forget to stop at the Princeton Garden Theatre in Princeton, NJ and the County Theater in Doylestown, PA on the way.

IFC Center, New York, NY

Located on 6th Avenue in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, the IFC Center screens a combination of first run indie, international, and documentary films with such a vibrant line-up of special guests and filmmakers that it’s almost certain your visit will include something special. They are host to the annual DOC NYC festivalHuman Rights Watch Film Festival, and the monthly series Pure Nonfiction, making them an essential destination for documentary enthusiasts and anyone interested in cinema’s activist and educational applications. Other regular series include  Queer|Art|Film and Waverly Midnights. During your visit be sure to check out the Posteritati Gallery of classic movie posters.

Princeton Garden Theatre Princeton, NJ

A non-profit cinema located near the historic Princeton University. Opened as a movie theater in 1920, the Princeton Garden Theatre is operated by Renew Theaters and was named the best movie theater in New Jersey by NJ.com. Regularly screening a combination of first run and classic art house cinema, the Princeton Garden Theatre screens films for audiences of all ages including a monthly Kids! Series and a Garden classroom educational program for local schools. They are celebrating the summer of 2019 and 50th anniversary of the moon landing with the series New Frontiers but are always a destination for beloved classics, including films starring Princeton alum Jimmy Stewart.

County Theater Doylestown, PA

The beautiful streamline moderne County Theater opened in Doylestown in 1938. Since the 1990s the theater has been the site of significant restorations that have helped return it to stunning Art Deco splendor. When you visit check out the gorgeous marquee and neon tower. Today, the County Theater, which like the Princeton Garden is operated by Renew Theaters, brings new and classic films to its loyal membership.

Colonial Theatre Phoenixville, PA

The Colonial Theatre is nothing sort of legendary. Originally opened in 1902 for combination of film and vaudeville performances, the Colonial became a silver-screen star when it became the setting for the absolutely iconic theater scene in the 1950’s sci-fi classic The Blob starring Steve McQueen. Now operated as a non-profit, the community treasure presents a combination of new and classic films and curated series including a dedicated program of late night chills. Each year The Colonial is also host to Blobfest, an annual celebration of 50s kitsch and sci-fi that features screenings, a Friday Night Run Out, and a street fair.  Hosted annually in July, Blobfest is a must for cinephiles so hop on the highway after the 4th and begin your art house road trip.

On the Road…

En route from New York, NY to Phoenixville, PA stop for some pastries, and to see a castle.

McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co New York, NY

Located half a mile from IFC Center, McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co has been selling rare, fragrant coffee and tea in Manhattan since 1895 and moved into its current location in 1920. The historic neighborhood institution is crowded with jars and bags of coffee and tea of all varieties from around the world. Buy a new variety for yourself or a friend and enjoy a cozy drink with a book from the Strand Bookstore.

Strand Bookstore New York, NY

East of IFC Center, across Washington Square park is Strand Book Store home to over 18 miles of new, used, and rare books. They have staff picks, collectibles, and aisles aisles of books of all genres ready for browsing. Adjacent to NYU the neighborhood boasts a selection of other smaller bookstores too, including Alabaster Bookshop (the last of its kind on 4th Ave) which offers a wonderful library of trade paperbacks and classics and extremely affordable prices, and Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.

The Stonewall Inn & Stonewall National Monument New York, NY

Just blocks away from the IFC Center sits the Stonewall Inn and Stonewall National Monument, a landmark in the history of the gay rights movement. In June 1969 it became a flash point for activism, as members of the LGTBQ community joined to protest persistent police harassment, violence, and discrimination. The protest sparked a revolution, and is celebrated each year in New York during Pride. Though many observe that the character and spirit of the Village (and much of Manhattan) have changed in the last 50 years, the Stonewall Inn remains an important site for historical reflection and contemporary activism.

Agricola Princeton, NJ

After driving south to NJ on I-95, head to farm-to-table restaurant Agricola, for a simple, yet carefully crafted meal showcasing local ingredients. They serve lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch and offer a full plant-based menu alongside farm-sourced entrees of fish and meat. In addition to a full, craft cocktail menu they also offer house made sodas. It’s a wonderful place to talk, take your time, and savor a meal — and has great options for vegans, but Renew Theaters Executive Director Chris Collier swears by their burger.

Terra Momo Bread Company Princeton, NJ

Looking for a sweet treat, breakfast, or lunch? Artisan bakeshop the Terra Momo Bread Company  has been serving house-made baked goods since 1998. Drawing on inspiration from Italy, Pan Latino, and the Mediterranean, they offer a daily selection of breads, focaccia (topped with cheese and tomatoes), croissant, sandwiches, and beautiful tarts. Traveling with young film lovers? Try their hedgehogs (bread shaped like the animal).

Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle Doylestown, NJ

If you head west towards Phoenixville on I-295 N you will pass through Doylestown and have the opportunity to stop at the Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle. Completed in 1912, Fonthill Castle was home to archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer and intended to showcase his collections of tiles and prints. Made entirely of poured concrete, the expansive mansion which Mercer described as “a castle for the new world,” combines Gothic, Byzantine, and Medieval styles. Mercer was also concerned about the displacement and obsolescence caused by the Industrial Revolution and accumulated a massive collection of objects from American life of the 18th and 19th century, which are now displayed in the Mercer Museum. Keep your eyes open for a whale boat, stagecoach, and tiny treasures like watchmaker’s gears.

Wharton Esherick Museum Malvern, PA

Just 5 miles south of the Colonial Theatre is the Wharton Esherick Museum. A leader of the studio furniture movement, Wharton Esherick was a sculptor who worked primarily in wood, creating furniture, interiors, and buildings. The museum is located Esherick’s home and studio. Visit for a guided tour to see truly exceptional designs in a beautiful setting.

A Letter to the New York Times

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To the Editor:

Re: Will The Movies Exist in 10 Years? (Arts & Leisure, Sunday June 23):

Kyle Buchanan’s article on the future of movies fails to include a single representative from the field of theatrical exhibition and rehearses the same eulogy for theaters delivered upon the arrival of television and home video. Consequently, the piece lacks meaningful insight into the fundamentally social aspects of movie-going and the benefits of shared experience.

The future of cinema is directly tied to theaters’ cultural and educational potential. A more thorough analysis of the state of movies might include Frederick Joseph’s #BlackPantherChallenge, the Crazy Rich Asians #GoldOpen, public screenings and special events at the Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, TN), the Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY), The Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ), FilmScene (Iowa City, IA), and hundreds of other mission-driven theaters that foster an appreciation for the arts, encourage media literacy, and facilitate conversations about some of the most challenging subjects of our times.

At a time when the relationship between political polarization and solitary media viewing has never been more evident, we must raise the bar from asking “how movies can survive” to examining how and when they thrive. Over the past decade, movie theaters across the country have successfully embraced the principles of community-based and mission-driven programming, focusing on prioritizing audience experience, public dialogue, and positive cultural impact.

 A failure to account for how theaters are evolving from businesses into principled cultural institutions risks devaluing vital communal experiences at the precise moment when we need them most.

Sincerely,
Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence

Around the Art House: Pride 2019

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In cities throughout the United States June is Pride, a month to celebrate LGTBQ experience, identity, self-determination, and community. The celebration also commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, protests against police harassment and violence that were foundational in the Gay Liberation movement. It is also occasion to celebrate LGTBQ filmmakers and filmgoers absolutely paramount contributions to the history of art cinema, from midnight movies, to audiences participation, to the resuscitation of old Hollywood legends as cult figures, much of the vibrancy of the art house community were conceived and nurtured by communities of queer film lovers. This June check out some of the art houses paying tribute to important queer filmmakers and cinema. 

Barbara Hammer: The Body in Film, The Wexner Center for the Arts
Columbus, OH


In addition to presenting the exhibition Barbara Hammer: In This Body, the Wexner Center for the Arts is hosting three programs of work by legendary experimental filmmaker Barbara Hammer. The subject of retrospectives at MoMA and the Tate, and a Teddy Award Winner, Hammer was known for her innovative formal style, lyricism, and pioneering depictions of lesbian intimacy and identity, as well as her political conviction and activism. The programs Mortal Bodies, Sensual Bodies, and Political Bodies explore Hammer’s depictions of physical vulnerability, pleasure, and her efforts to “find the political,” and include her films Nitrate Kisses (1992), A Horse is Not a Metaphor (2009), and Multiple Orgasm (1977). A longtime friend of the Wexner, Hammer passed away earlier this year, during her illness she became a committed advocate for terminally ill people’s right to die.

Paris is Burning, Film Forum, New York, NY


Before Ryan Murphy’s Pose or KIKI there was Paris is Burning. Activist filmmaker Jennie Livingston filmed Paris, a depiction of the city’s underground ballroom scene, in New York in the late 1980s. Pioneered by LGTBQ Black and Latinx activists and artists, Ballroom created a community in which houses, functioning as families, competed in dance, drag, performance, and fashion categories. Ballroom offered, and continues to offer, a platform to innovate performance art, social critique, and a supportive network in the face of homophobia, poverty, and government failure. Livingston’s films captures key figures from the community including house mother Pepper LeBeija, drag queen Dorian Corey, and choreographer Willie Ninja, describing their approach to dance and performance, and highlighting the political potency of assuming the roles of executives and military officials for ball categories. The film continues to provoke important conversations about vouyerism, white filmmakers’ relationships to their subjects, and who profits from documentary, while remaining a moving encounter with inspiring activists and artists. This June the film returns to New York for screenings at Film Forum.

“Since Stonewall,” Trylon Cinema, Minneapolis, MN

The Trylon Cinema in Minneapolis celebrates the anniversary of Stonewall with “Since Stonewall,” a two-screening series featuring presentation of  The Boys in the Band (soon to be adapted again by Ryan Murphy), a 1970 film adaptation of the popular off-Broadway play considered one of mainstream film’s first depictions of gay life, and The Celluloid Closet, a seminal documentary about LGTBQ representation in Hollywood Cinema.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto, Ontario


TIFF Bell Lightbox presents a screening of Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, Bollywood’s first lesbian love story and a conversation about representation and inclusivity in Bollywood. Co-written by transgender activist and screenwriter Gazal Dhaliwal, the film is the first to depict Lesbian relationships within the context of a mainstream Indian film (filmmakers including Deepa Metha have previously explored lesbian relationships in indie cinema). Panelists include film programmer Aaditya Aggarwal, and Indu Vashist, Executive Director of the South Asian Visual Arts Center.

Visiting Members Program: The Loft Cinema to The Frida Cinema

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The Art House Convergence Visiting Members Program provides reciprocal membership benefits to members from all of its participating theaters. Are you a devoted art house member ready for adventure? Art House Convergence is providing travel tips and resources for film aficionados ready to visit some of the United States’ best art houses.

We are kicking off our Visiting Members blog series with a Southwestern road trip from the Loft Cinema in Tucson, AZ to the Frida Cinema in Santa, CA. Don’t forget to stop at the Palm Springs Cultural Center on the way.

The Loft Cinema, Tucson, AZ

Tucson’s independent movie theater since 1972. The Loft Cinema is a nonprofit dedicated to creating community by celebrating the art and diversity of film. They screen first-run independent and foreign films and host tons of special series including the campy Mondo Mondays (weird, wild, and wonderful), a running program of Essential Cinema (classics the way they were meant to be seen), family programs, cult classics, and plenty of outdoor screenings (past screenings have included a presentation of JAWS poolside).   They were the first U.S.-based member of the Solar World Cinema movement, and use solar energy to power their main building.

Palm Springs Cultural Center Palm Springs, CA

Formerly the Camelot Theatre at the Palm Springs Shopping Center, Palm Springs Cultural Center hosts a variety of art and food related events in the heart of gorgeous Palm Springs, CA. Film programs include tons of film festivals (Noir, CinemaSustainable), and LGTBQ programming, and members get discounts on concessions and festival passes.

Frida Cinema Santa Ana, CA

Located in downtown Santa Ana the Frida is the only non-profit art house in Orange County. They opened in 2014 and have since become an absolutely essential destination for film lovers. They are a cult movie and horror haven with huge audiences turning out for new releases like MANDY and TRAIN TO BUSAN, a Horror Movie Night hosted in collaboration with HorrorBuzz, the Camp Frida 12 hour horror marathon, and the Starship Frida intergalactic movie marathon.  They also get the whole team involved with the monthly “Volunteer of the Month Pick.”

On the Road…

En route from Tucson, AZ to Santa Ana, CA stop for ice cream, cocktails, and a hike through the desert.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Scottsdale, AZ

Heading north on I-10 from Tucson you will pass through Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ, stop into the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art  to see some rare gems including Knight Rise, one of light and space artist James Turrell’s completed Skyspaces, and rotating exhibitions of works by important contemporary artists.

Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor Scottsdale, AZ

Take a break from clean modern lines in the the candy-colored Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor an old-timey parlor decked out in bubble-gum pink. The Sugar Bowl has been serving up sweet treats since 1958 and their menu includes soda fountain classics alongside some truly tasty sundaes.

Joshua Tree, CA

After entering California along I-10 you will pass along the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park, an exquisite national park named for its scrubby Joshua Trees. See beautiful rock formations and desert vistas. Approaching from the freeway stop at the Cottonwood Visitor Center and choose a hike in the southern portion of the park.

Palm Springs, CA

After time outside head to the vacation destination of Palm Springs, CA to luxuriate in the midcentury modern oasis that has been a getaway for classic Hollywood stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, and Katherine Hepburn. Pick up a map for a self-guided architectural tour at the Aerial Tramway Station (designed by E. Stewart Williams) or enjoy one of the many guided midcentury modern tours offered around town. Enjoy a cocktail at Mini Bar at the opulent Parker Hotel, or a classic deli sandwich and mile-high slice of cake at Sherman’s (for those interested in a more contemporary take on the deli head to Wexler’s @ ARRIVE). Ready for another ice cream? Head to Lappert’s.

Cabazon Dinosaurs Cabazon, CA

Famous for their role in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are a classic Jurassic roadside attraction for tourists visiting Palm Springs.

Mission Inn Hotel & Spa Riverside, CA

Located between Palm Springs and Orange Country, as you transition from I-10 to CA-91 Riverside is the hometown of California citrus and was once a vacation destination for wealthy east-coasters seeking rest and relaxation in the sunshine. Designed to intertwine fantasies of the west with European grandeur, the Mission Inn is an extravagant example of Californian-Mission Revival Architecture. Walk the expansive grounds and drop into the Presidential Lounge for a J.F.K Cosmopolitan or W.H. Taft Appletini (likely not the cocktail Taft ordered during his 1909 visit.)

Finished seeing Riverside? Hop on CA-91 and continue on to the Frida!

The Invisible Cinema at Anthology Film Archives.

Around the Art House: Experimental Film

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Did you know that Ann Arbor is home to longest-running experimental film festival in North America?
Since 1963 the Ann Arbor Film Festival has been hosting screenings with artists ranging from Yoko Ono and the Velvet Underground to more recent presentations of work by Akosua Adoma Owusu. This summer Art House Convergence is celebrating this history with an educational session dedicated to curating experimental films at our Regional Seminar.

So what is experimental film?
Like the designation “art film,” experimental film, and the oft-used associated designations of avant-garde and underground are regularly debated and contested, and have been parsed out in a variety of texts. Produced without traditional commercial imperatives and regularly rejecting standard narrative causality, experimental films are often micro-budget, small gauge, abstract, and irreverent. They might reference Hollywood, recycling its refuse into punk, queer, and subversive critique, but they definitely aren’t of Hollywood, and though money changes hands they definitely operate using a financial system distinct from the mainstream.

Read more in Allegories of Cinema (David James, 1989), An Introduction to American Underground Film (Sheldon Renan, 1967), Politics of Resistance: Women, Power, and Politics in the New York Avant-Garde Cinema 1941 – 1971 (Lauren Rabinowitz, 2003), Visionary Film: The American Avant-Garde 1945 – 1980 (P. Adams Sitney, 1974).

Ready to watch some films?
Check out our list of some of the United States’ longest-running exhibitors of experimental film, then stop in for a screening.

Why were all of these organizations founded in the 1970s?
Like art houses during the mid-2000s, during the late 1960s experimental film exhibitors were contending with significant market disruption. Throughout the 1960s, while the Production Code exerted its last waning influence on commercial Hollywood cinema and the Supreme Court tentatively thawed government regulation of obscenity, exhibitors of experimental film often operated as (precariously) commercial enterprises — attracting viewers with the promise of transgressive, and titillating content, as well as politically radical art. However, in the 1970s in the face of the New Hollywood Cinema and the commercialization of pornography, the dominant model shifted. Exhibitors embraced and expressed their steadfast commitment to film as art and arts education, establishing themselves as media arts nonprofits, and seeking support from the (relatively) new NEA and other government initiatives like CETA.

Grounded in a commitment to cultural enrichment, and democratic arts access, these exhibitors forged a lasting model that thrives today. Pay them a visit for some truly eye-opening experiences.

Anthology Film Archives, New York, NY, since 1970


Founded by filmmakers Stan Brakhage, Peter Kubelka, and Jonas Mekas, a figure known for his role in founding a variety of influential institutions of the New York avant-garde including the Filmmaker’s Cooperative and
Film Culture magazine, along with patron Jerome Hill, and scholar P. Adams Sitney, whose widely-read Visionary Film is celebrated and critiqued for forging the most widely-read history of of avant-garde cinema. The organization launched with a manifesto and promised to exhibit “film as art,” asking “What are the essentials of the film experience? Which films embody the heights of the art of cinema?”

Confident in their capacities as arbiters of quality, Anthology’s founding curatorial board created a list of essential films they promised to screen many times, believing that the very best films warranted multiple viewings. Their list included some of the most frequently watched avant-garde films to date including Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and Marcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema, as well as narrative features likes Charlie Chaplin’s Gold Rush, and underground works including Robert Nelson’s parody Bleu Shut, which features a timer in the corner as a nod to anxiety about avant-garde film’s protracted run-times.

Essential films were to play in the “invisible cinema.” Described as “a machine for film viewing,” the invisible cinema was the antithesis of contemporary multiplex loungers and cinema-beds. In an era before rampant in-theater texting, filmmaker Peter Kubelka designed the cinema so that guests would sit on firm, hard-backed chairs flanked by partitions so that they would look at the screen and not each other.

Today Anthology is home to a tremendous archive including the world’s largest paper collection related to independent and experimental cinema and screens more than 900 programs annually, featuring films a global array of innovative retrospectives. 2019 programs included “Punk Lust: Raw Provocations,” “Prison Images: Incarceration and the Cinema,” and a tribute to founder Jonas Mekas, who passed away in 2018.

Los Angeles Filmforum, Los Angeles, CA, Since 1975

Founded by Terry Cannon in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena (home to the annual Rose Bowl) at a time when the former-turn of the century retreat for millionaires attracted artists with low rents and commercial vacancies. Pasadena Filmforum was a decidedly funky west-coast outpost for alternative film viewing where guests often sat on couches for relaxed, salon-style conversations.

Cannon was a recent graduate from San Francisco State University and had encountered experimental film programming in the Bay Area. Still in his early 20s, he received a seed money grant from the aptly-titled Pasadena Community Spirit Organization and set to work hosting visiting filmmakers and celebrating work by locally-based, unknown outsider artists like Sara Kathryn Arledge, whose 1958 film What is a Man, remains a sharp, hilarious critique of masculinity. Early series included “Women in Film,” “In Person: Shirley Clarke,” and “West Coast Funk.” In 1982 the organization launched “Show for the Eyes,” the first international mail art project.

Today Los Angeles Filmforum has been host to a variety of significant retrospectives and research projects on the history of experimental film including Scratching the Belly of the Beast: Cutting-Edge Media in Los Angeles, 1922 94,  Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles 1945 – 1980, and Ism, Ism Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America. The organization operates as a mobile cinema, working with the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and MOCA to host programs including “Representations of Leaving: Queer Death and heavens,” “Small, real: Observation and the Mundane,” and programs of films by Kevin Jerome Everson and Martha Colburn. 

Facets, Chicago, IL, since 1975

The marquee of Facets Cinematheque.

The marquee of Facets Cinematheque.


They were committed to the work, withstanding Chicago-winters with little heat, renovation, and micro-budget to forge an innovative program featuring an international array of films (a scope reflective of Stehlik’s own background as a Czech cinephile). The couple’s commitment to the art of film was clear and celebrated locals including film critic Roger Ebert, and national figures like Brian O’Doherty of the National Endowment of the Arts once said “
It is Milos and the few people in this country like him who are continuing to nourish the art film.”

In the 1980s, as the marketplace evolved, Facets adapted, forging a name for itself as a leading distributor and force in the home video market and  bringing works by filmmakers including James Broughton and Barbara Hammer to a broader audience.

Today Facets streams films from its website, operates a cinematheque year-round, boasts an enormous DVD library, is home to a youth education program, and presents the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Recent screenings include Black Mother and you can still catch the films of James Broughton, as well as an array of international avant-garde films on FacetsEdge

San Francisco Cinematheque, San Francisco, CA, since 1961

Cinemanews, the newsletter of Canyon Cinema.

Cinemanews, the newsletter of Canyon Cinema.


An offshoot of Canyon Cinema, a cooperative launched by filmmakers including Bruce Baillie and Chick Strand, as well Ernest Callenbach of Film Quarterly. Guided by an anarchic, alternative ethos,  the organization began as backyard screenings. A 1963 newsletter observed “Our theater began in the backyard of a beautiful lady in Canyon, California, summer, 1961. If there are new films there must be theaters, this was the reason for beginning.” By 1962 screenings were nomadic, occurring in homes, backyards, and even an anarchist restaurant.

Notable about the programming, was that Strand and Baillie acknowledged that some films would be bad. They wanted to explore new approaches to filmmaking, and recognized that required taking risks as artists and exhibitors. Recollections of their program at this time frame it as witchy and wonderful, fliers featured hand drawn flourishes, Chick would attend to the box office in a cloak with candles. It felt like a community and was genuinely funky, forging an ethos that have been credited as inspiring contemporary micro-cinemas.  In 1966 the filmmakers formed a distribution cooperative for “willing devotees of the magic lantern muse,” and invited all film artists to participate.

In 1976, with hopes of achieving non-profit status the Canyon Cinema’s distribution and exhibition arms separated. The distributor continued to operate cooperatively, while the distributor that would become the San Francisco Cinematheque became a non-profit and received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. Canyon Cinema, which became a non-profit in 2012, remains one of the most important distributors of experimental cinema in the United States. Once an outsider, by the 1980s the Cinematheque was considered by locals to have become establishment and was subject to a revolution in the form of a “takeover” screening. The revolutionaries would go on to form No Nothing Cinema while the Cinematheque would form a programming committee with hopes of becoming more egalitarian.

Today the San Francisco Cinematheque operates as a mobile exhibitor, hosts the annual film festival Crossroads, featuring a combination of film and performance at SFMOMA, and presents a year-round screenings series featuring programs like “Imaging the Avant-Garde: Taiwan’s Experimental Films of the 1960s” and “The Shape of Surface.” In 2010, Steve Anker, who was director of the Cinematheque from 1992 until 2003 partnered with Steve Seid and Kathy Geritz of the Pacific Film Archive to co-edit Radical Light: Alternative Film & Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945 – 2000.

Walker Cinema, Minneapolis, MN, since 1973

In 1973 the Walker Art Center consolidated its experimental film exhibition by establishing a dedicated film department under stewardship of film coordinator John Hanhardt, who had been recruited from the Museum of Modern Art, and began a film study collection with plans to develop an archive. As an interdisciplinary arts center, the Walker integrated media into its galleries, built a collection, and hosted theatrical screenings. During the 1970s, curator Melinda Ward collaborated with Sally Dixon who was running the media arts center Film in the Cities (FITC) to bring filmmakers including Stan Brakhage and Robert Breer to the Twin Cities. Pioneering filmmaker Hollis Frampton, whose (nostalgia) and Zorns Lemma experimented with time and language, was among the program’s participants, recalling that on earlier trip to the Twin Cities he had narrowly evaded a plane crash by lingering at an Edward Weston exhibition of photographs.

Today the Walker Ruben/ Bentson Moving Image Collection features more than 1,000 titles, including works by Joan Jonas, Gunvor Nelson, and Derek Jarman, and selection plays regularly in an audience-programmed mini cinematheque on the museum’s ground floor. The Walker also commissions new moving image works and hosts curated screenings, recent programs include INDIgenesis: Indigenous Filmmakers Past and Present, combining narrative and experimental work, curated by Missy Whiteman and Film in the Cities: A History and Legacy.