The possibility of an arthouse cinema

Though I’m quite certain she doesn’t remember my name (she might remember me as the subpar envelope-stuffer or as the dude who frequently got lost on the subway while running deliveries to Brooklyn), I’m still referring y’all to an interview with my former boss, Film Forum director Karen Cooper, in this week’s issue of the Village Voice. It’s an interesting read insofar as Cooper has run one of the U.S.’s most enduring and iconic non-profit independent movie theaters… well, ever.

Because it’s not New York City, Madison simply has no equivalent to Film Forum, nor could it (after all, Film Forum doesn’t even have a candystand—it has an espresso bar); yet, Cooper’s case calls attention to steps that could be taken toward opening a roughly comparable institution right here in the capitol of the Badger State. Of all the options we presently have, the Cinematheque is probably the closest in spirit to Film Forum, but its screenings are too infrequent and often conflict with the social lives of the student body (festivities start pretty early these days). WUD Film ain’t bad but, as far as venues go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more miserable than the Play Circle (and one or two films a weekend is meager, no offense). Sundance is a schlep.

Students are generally interested in culture, and there are few more effective ways of documenting and exhibiting culture than cinema. Film Forum has milked this truth for 38 years now, and it’s still going relatively strong. I don’t see any reason why a yet-to-be-founded theater in Madison couldn’t do something similar; I’m convinced that the audience for such an institution exists here and now.


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