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Nate Close

 

During 2023, Huntington’s beloved arthouse community theater, the Cinema Arts Centre, will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In celebration of its decades-long tenure as Huntington’s premier destination for independent film, the Cinema will show a number of universally acclaimed classic films, as well as many audience favorites from its long history as one of Huntington’s main destinations for the arts.

After a turbulent few years coping with a temporary closure due to COVID, and then a major restoration of its three theaters, the theater reopened in Spring 2022, and has seen success screening highly acclaimed classic films – many of which audiences rarely have the opportunity to see on the big screen.

From its earliest history, the Cinema Arts Centre, also known as CAC by many of its followers, has relied upon its dedicated legion of members and supporters in the Huntington and Long Island communities. Long-time patrons often reminisce about the early days when films were projected on a sheet hung on a wall in a friend’s dance studio. Today, in large part due to the support of the local community, the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County, and the New York State Council on the Arts, the theater shows a diverse selection of film, 365 days a year in its three, newly renovated theaters.

Collaboration with other local businesses has also been a fundamental piece of the Cinema’s success. The Folk Music Society of Huntington, The Next Chapter, Huntington’s new independent bookstore, and local comic shop, Escape Pod Comics, have all partnered with the Cinema to present special events this year. This January, CAC will be partnering with Butera’s Restaurant for a special brunch screening of the Academy Award winning Italian classic Cinema Paradiso.

In recent years, the theater has placed a greater focus on hosting events that appeal to all corners of the community. With the introduction of weekly screenings of treasured family-friendly films, as well as screenings of offbeat horror and cult films, concert films, and critically acclaimed classics; the Cinema has been able to round out its program schedule – which still affords audiences unparalleled access to both new and old independent and international cinema.

“This has been a transformative year for the Cinema Arts Centre,” said Nate Close, Director of Marketing and Communication. “50 years in business is a huge achievement for any organization. We believe that it’s the special, and intimate, relationship that we’ve fostered with our community that has allowed us to remain part of the fabric of Huntington for so long. Whether that means showing nostalgic favorites, or things that you can’t see anywhere else, or just offering a place where everyone is welcome and people can come together. Community is everything to us and we look forward to the showing movies here in Huntington for the next 50 years.”

2023 film schedule will include screenings of the 1942 classic Casablanca, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II (1974), Cinema Paradiso (1988), family favorites such as The Goonies (1985), The NeverEnding Story (1984), and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971), along with a 90th anniversary screening of King Kong (1933), and even some recent cult favorites such as Twilight (2008), and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Avenue in Huntington. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-423-7610 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org

Gerald Dickens

UPDATE on Dec. 5 — This event has been canceled with no immediate plans to reschedule.

Read post from Gerald Dickens here.

By Melissa Arnold

When it comes to Christmas shows, there is perhaps none more iconic or beloved than A Christmas Carol. Since its publication in 1843, Charles Dickens’ famous novella has inspired dozens of theatrical and film adaptations, many with cult followings.

Whether your favorite Scrooge is George C. Scott, Michael Caine or Scrooge McDuck, a one-of-a-kind performance in Huntington next week may just top them all.

On Dec. 5, the Cinema Arts Centre (CAC) in Huntington will welcome British actor and producer Gerald Charles Dickens for a live, one-man performance of “A Christmas Carol.” Gerald is the great-great grandson of Charles Dickens, and his fascination with the author’s life and works led him to create something of his own.

Gerald will portray nearly 30 individual characters as the story unfolds with a touch of humor and deep emotional connection to the man behind the words.

The performance comes in the midst of the center’s Vic Skolnick Life of Our Cinema Campaign, an annual fundraising effort to support programming for the coming year, said Nate Close, CAC’s director of marketing and communications. He added that they like to host events during the fundraiser that are intriguing and fun for a broad audience to enjoy. “It’s always great to see theater performed live, especially when we typically broadcast theatrical performances on-screen here. The theater seats around 190 people, so it will be an intimate performance and we’re expecting a great turnout.”

CAC board member Jude Schanzer said that A Christmas Carol is the perfect holiday classic to set the season’s purpose of generosity, kindness, and goodwill.

“While it is true that Gerald is the great-great grandson  of Charles Dickens, it is his acting skills that make him extraordinary. His command of his voice and movements create unforgettable and completely distinguishable characters from Scrooge to Tiny Tim, all with minimal props,” said Schanzer. 

“How often are you afforded the added perk of having a brush with history? Gerald is passionate about his work as an actor and in portraying characters with whom he has a unique bond. He is also generous with his time and spirit and readily answers audience questions after every performance,” she said.

Copies of Gerald’s new book Dickens and Staplehurst: A Biography of a Rail Crash will also be available at the event. The book examines a deadly rail crash in 1865 and the subsequent investigation. Charles Dickens survived the crash and was profoundly affected by the events of that day. Gerald digs into Charles’ private life and professional motivations before and after the crash.

See A Christmas Carol at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave, Huntington. Tickets to the performance are $30 per person, $25 for CAC members. Tickets to the performance plus a copy of the book are $45, $40 for CAC members. For To order, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org or call 631-423-7610. 

Learn more about Gerald Charles Dickens at www.geralddickens.com.

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A scene from Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. LucasFilm Ltd. & 20th Century Fox. Image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

By Tara Mae

The force is strong with Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre (CAC), which for the first time in its history will screen George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy for a limited week-long engagement.

From Aug.  26 to Thursday, Sept. 1, the CAC will screen A New Hope (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983) in chronological order with successive screenings taking place on Friday and Saturday, for fans who want to binge watch the entire trilogy. It is a rare opportunity to watch the movies, each a mega blockbuster in its own right, on the big screen. They are rarely rereleased in theaters, much less shown in sequence, not due to lack of interest but rather lack of opportunity. 

“The original trilogy is rarely presented on the big screen, and for many years it was unavailable to theaters. It was only recently that LucasFilm has started to allow screenings of the original trilogy,” said Nate Close, Director of Marketing and Communications at the CAC.

A New Hope launched director George Lucas and actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford into the stratosphere of popular culture. The two sequels, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, chronicled the acute losses and buoying victories in the ongoing battle between good and evil as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and their compatriots fought Darth Vader and the imperial regime. 

The Cinema Arts Centre is screening the trilogy as part of an ongoing effort to reengage audiences and entice them back into the theater. For while Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and company had Darth Vader to battle and ultimately defeat, movie theaters, film centers, and other art institutions are contending with the effects of an ongoing pandemic and other hurdles. 

“The movie theater industry is still in the process of bouncing back from the Covid era, so we thought this was a good time to give fans something that would really excite them and motivate them to come out and see a movie,” Close said. “We hope that people will take advantage of the rare opportunity to see some of their favorite films on the big screen.” 

The trilogy spawned a number of prequels, graphic novels, books, television shows, and an entire alternative universe populated by heroic and villainous archetypes, emotive AI, and adorably ferocious creatures.

“The original Star Wars trilogy is timeless. Nearly everything about the films, from the characters, the music, and the world-building makes them some of the most memorable and entertaining movies ever made,” Close added. ”It’s hard to find another piece of fantasy media that has had such a tremendous impact on our culture. And that all started with the release of George Lucas’s original trilogy.” 

The Star Wars Trilogy screening is just the beginning of an upcoming season that incorporates crowd favorites and comfort watches selected in the spirit of encouraging audiences to return to the theater. A screening of The Godfather on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in honor of the 50th anniversary of its release, is the first in a series of Tuesday film screenings that celebrate the anniversaries of some Hollywood classics including To Kill a Mockingbird on Sept. 20 for its 60th anniversary; Lawrence of Arabia on Oct. 5 for its 60th anniversary; and Singin’ in the Rain on Nov. 20 for its 70th anniversary. And in the spirit of the holidays, the CAC will screen White Christmas on Dec. 13.

Since its reopening the Cinema Arts Centre has organized and presented a number of dynamic events geared towards welcoming diverse audiences, including comedy shows, book signings, a 12-hour horror movie marathon, the Maritime Film Festival, its Anything but Silent series that combines silent films with live accompaniment by organist Ben Model, documentary screenings, the Cult Cafe series, Cinema for Kids, Sunday Schmooze series, and much more. Check out their website at www.cinemaartcentre.org for a full schedule and ticket prices. 

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. For more information, call 631-423-7610.

One of the newly renovated theaters at the Cinema Arts Centre. Photo by Nate Close

After a long closure, and full renovation, Huntington’s Cinema Art Centre has reopened for in-person screenings and events

After more than two years, the Cinema Arts Centre (CAC), 423 Park Ave., Huntington has reopened with a newly renovated space. Independent film screenings and special programming are back at the cinema, with great events planned for this spring and summer, and more on the way.

Having first closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAC decided to use the opportunity to embark upon a large scale renovation of its lobby and three theaters. The work on the theater includes brand new seats, carpeting, ceilings, an updated ventilation system, as well as new paint and carpeting in the lobby and new seats and tables in the café, which are set to arrive any day. The floors in the theaters have also been re-profiled to create better sight lines, the bathrooms have been refurbished, and additional handicap seating has been added to the theaters.

New lobby carpeting at the Cinema Arts Centre. Photo by Nate Close

During its closure the Cinema Arts Centre stayed busy presenting pop-up and drive-in screenings along with a diverse range of virtual programming, some of which will continue in some capacity into the future.

The Cinema is now open for in-person programming, and tickets are on sale for a number of films and special events this year. One series that particularly excites that staff is the Maritime Film Festival.

A celebration of Long Island’s coastal culture, the multi-day Maritime Film Festival, will explore topics such as Long Island’s bay houses, the first all-female crew of sailors to circumnavigate the globe, and the Bungalows of Rockaway. The festival will feature a number of special guests including filmmakers, subjects of the films, and experts on Long Island history. You can purchase tickets or find more information about these and other events at www.cinemaartscentre.org

“It has been a long road to get us to this point,” said Nate Close, director of communications at the CAC. “We experienced a few delays along the way but we are thrilled to be finally reopening as an even better version of the Cinema Arts Centre. With our comfortable new seats and more modern theater design, we are excited to once again provide a space where people in our community can come together. We want to sincerely thank our members, donors, and everyone in our amazing Huntington and Long Island communities who made this possible.”

The first recipe will be Spaghetti and Meatballs inspired by the iconic scene from 'Lady and the Tramp'. Image courtesy of Disney

By Melissa Arnold

With non-essential businesses closed and restaurants limited to take-out and delivery only, many of Long Island’s popular hangouts have gone dark.

The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington might not be able to show films or hold special events right now, but that’s not stopping them from finding creative ways to bring people together in the comfort of their own homes.

Their newest initiative, “Forks and Films,” invites viewers to open a bottle of wine and settle down for a family-friendly movie, then head to the kitchen to prepare a quick and simple recipe that connects to the film. 

The weekly series will be hosted by Jacqueline Strayer, who will introduce the movie and share some fun facts, and Chef Martin Butera, who will prepare the recipes. Strayer will also showcase viewer’s stories, photos and videos in each subsequent episode. 

While the CAC doesn’t have the rights to stream the films over the Internet, their selections are all readily available on popular streaming services such as Disney Plus. All of the streaming services offer free trials for new subscribers and can be canceled anytime.

Strayer, a professor at New York University and Columbia University, and Butera, owner of Butera’s Restaurant in Sayville and Woodbury, are both on the CAC’s Board of Directors.

“In 2013, I came up with the idea of showing a film at the center and then cooking some of the foods from the movie,” said Butera, who’s been on the board for 10 years. “It was very successful, and we held a similar event a few years later. I was working on putting another one together not too long before the pandemic.”

As shutdowns rolled through the Empire State last month, Strayer started brainstorming ways they could continue to reach people in the community, including more than CAC 10,000 members and tens of thousands more who visit the theater.“When I realized people were going to be remote, I sent a note to Martin and said, ‘Remember how you always wanted to do another dinner and a movie event? Well, maybe now is the time,” she recalled.

Every Thursday, the CAC will upload the “Forks and Films” video for families to watch and rewatch at their convenience, removing the need for everyone to be available at the same time. It’s a low-key, laid back experience that the staff and board hopes will have a broad appeal to all kinds of people while providing some badly-needed distraction.

“The cinema is a very community-focused organization, and we have personal connections with many of our patrons that we’ve come to view as family,” said Nate Close, CAC director of marketing and communications. “[Before the pandemic] there were some people who were here every single day, watching films, giving us feedback, just wanting to chat. We still want to be there for everyone.”

Butera will be filming from his kitchen, while Strayer will be welcoming viewers to her basement. “Is it going to be perfect? No. We’re not professional television people and we don’t have fancy equipment. But we want to give people a little bit of joy in a time that’s so difficult for all of us,” Strayer said.

Of course, it takes a team effort to spread the word about any event, and “Forks and Films” is no exception. Strayer has enlisted the help of enthusiastic graduate students in her Public Relations and Corporate Communications and Integrated Marketing programs at NYU to promote the event. A group of seven students volunteered to help without any academic incentives, even as they complete coursework remotely.

“I was amazed at how quickly they jumped in and how hard they’re working. We meet over [the video chatting platform] Zoom every few days,” Strayer said. “They’ve been highly engaged and have wonderful ideas to share. And none of them are from New York. I feel so fortunate to have talented students from all over the world.

For Butera, “Forks and Films” will be another way to share his love of cooking with the world.

“I’ve always had a passion and affinity for food as well as an appreciation for film,” he explained. “My wife and I have been members of the CAC for 25 years. The center has been a great place for us to see foreign and independent films … but it’s also been a wonderful place for people to grab a cup of coffee and share their ideas and experiences with a film. It’s a community, and you can’t get that by watching Netflix.”

The first episode, which kicks off tonight, April 9, at 6 p.m., will encourage viewers to watch a beloved Disney classic, Lady and the Tramp. Released in 1955, the animated film follows the blossoming romance between Lady, a lovely Cocker Spaniel from an upper class family, and a scruffy stray mutt named Tramp.

One of the most iconic scenes from the film finds Lady and Tramp sharing a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs by candlelight in the back alley of Tony’s Italian Restaurant while Tony serenades them with the love song “Bella Notte.” Appropriately, Butera will demonstrate how to make his famous chicken meatballs on “Forks and Films.” The episode’s title? “Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs.” 

The chef is planning on recreating the classic French stew ratatouille during the April 16 episode to compliment the 2007 Disney Pixar animated film of the same name. The ingredients for each featured dish will be posted on social media a week in advance of each episode,

“I wanted to choose recipes that weren’t too hard to make, but a bit more challenging than just opening a can. Ideally they’ll have all or most of the ingredients at home already, and we’ll release the ingredients list ahead of time,” Butera said. “Cooking has a way of grounding people, of connecting them to good memories and feelings, which we think will be good for everyone.”

“Forks and Films” will be uploaded each Thursday on Facebook.com/CinemaArtsCentre, and on YouTube.com — search for Cinema Arts Centre Huntington. 

For other remote opportunities from the Cinema Arts Centre, including staff-curated film recommendations and the opportunity to rent films at home, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

To better prepare you for following along as Chef Martin recreates the classic meatballs from Lady and the Tramp, here is the ingredient list:

●  2 pounds ground chicken or ground chop meat

●  2 large fresh eggs

●  1 small onion, diced

●  1 large garlic clove, minced

●  1 ½ cup water

●  1 ¼ cup plain dried bread crumbs

●  ½ cup fresh chopped parsley

●  ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese

●  1 teaspoon salt

●  ¼ teaspoon black pepper

●  ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil