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Repertoire or art house theatre

Repertoire or Art House Theatre: A theatre that presents more alternative and art films as well as second run and classic and cult films. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movie_theater [Oct 2004]

The first documented art house theatres were the Guild and the Studio, both in Berkeley and reviewed and/or programmed by Pauline Kael

Repertory theater

In 1951, Landberg had opened the Cinema Guild and Studio in a small storefront at 2436 Telegraph Ave. Two years later he met and married fellow film fanatic Kael, then a single mother struggling to make her mark in c riticism.

The Cinema Guild became America’s first repertory theater, showcasing foreign films with a much sharper edge than the cinematic treacle being dished out by American filmmakers caught in the paranoid grip of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his Red-b aiting goon squads.

Their movie house, coupled with their incisive essays in program notes handed out at the theater and mailed to an eventual audience 50,000, sparked a revolution, elevating the tastes of American audiences and inspiring young directors to reach beyond the narrow confines of Hollywood commercialism.

Repertory houses sprung up across the country, turning directors like Akiro Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman into icons for a new generation.

Frustrated by the limited space and poor sight-line s at their Telegraph Avenue theater, Kael and Landberg first gave serious consideration to the Shattuck Avenue building in 1957, on the closing of Glady’s, the restaurant which had occupied the site for the previous six years.

By Nov. 3, 1961, when the building opened after a radical renovation and conversion to theatrical space, Landberg and Kael had divorced, but the traditions forged at the Cinema Guild were transplanted intact into a new setting much friendlier to viewers and films.

The interior of the new Cinema Theater—which later became the Fine Arts Cinema—was far more spectacular than the relatively nondescript exterior, an Art Deco extravaganza featuring walls of glass, wrap-around mosaic panels, cathedral ceilings, six massive oak chairs desi gned by renowned Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck, and a large bronze Tiffany chandelier in the lobby. --http://www.berkeleydaily.org/article.cfm?issue=07-02-04&storyID=19167 [Oct 2004]


In 1968, thanks to the foresight of Jerome Hill, a film-maker and a visionary philanthropist, there arose an occasion to create in New York a film museum dedicated exclusively to film as an art. Lengthy discussions took place to determine the purposes and functions of the new museum. It was decided that one of its main functions would be to serve as a continuous critical tool in the investigation of the essential works created in cinema. Therefore it was decided to create what became known as the Essential Cinema Repertory collection.

A special Film Selection Committee was created to begin to compile such a repertory. The understanding was that the Committee would constitute a permanent part of Anthology Film Archives and it would continue into the future reviewing old and new cinema works, in all their different manifestations, and keep adding and expanding the Essential Cinema Repertory collection.

With the enthusiastic support of Jerome Hill, the Committee, consisting of P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, James Broughton, Ken Kelman and myself and for a brief period Stan Brakhage began its work. During the following few years it held numerous and lengthy selection sessions, compiling the first Essential Cinema Repertory collection consisting of about 330 titles.

But fate had other plans for us. In February 1973 Jerome Hill died. The Avon Foundation, Jerome’s foundation behind the Anthology project, which had built a special, Invisible Cinema theater, designed by Peter Kubelka, and had paid for the acquisition of all the prints voted into the Essential Cinema collection, and the running of Anthology was taken over by people who did not share Jerome’s vision. All funding to the Anthology project was cut off. Anthology had to move from the 425 Lafayette Street location, first to 80 Wooster Street, then to 491 Broadway, and then to its present location.

The Essential Cinema Repertory project was frozen until such time as another visionary such as Jerome Hill will appear.

The Essential Cinema Repertory, from its very inception, was strongly and sometimes wildly attacked by those who were not familiar with the history of the project, for exclusion of many important films. They were not aware of the fact that the Essential Cinema Repertory was intended to serve as a permanent critical tool with new titles continuously added, including possibly the titles that the critics of Anthology had in mind.

As one looks back through the last thirty years of the history of cinema in the United States, one has to admit that even in its unfinished state, the Essential Cinema Repertory collection, as an uncompromising critical statement on the avant-garde film of the period, has dramatically changed perceptions of the history of the American avant-garde film. The avant-garde film has become an essential part of cinema. - Jonas Mekas http://www.unlv.edu/programs/filmarchive/catalog_archive100/1968_anthology.html [Aug 2004]

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