Raise a glass and toast, as Cornell Cinema celebrates its 40th anniversary! Let’s hope that 40 really is the new 20, and that this birthday does not spawn the typical midlife crisis (I don’t know if I could handle a paint job touch-up that turns Willard Straight Theater’s walls bright yellow, or something of that sort), but instead is just the first of many age related celebrations.
Since its founding its 1970, Cornell Cinema has provided Ithaca with an alternative to commercial movie theaters, offering a wide array of alternative films and artistic collaborations for its audiences. The picture house’s 40th anniversary is a milestone that speaks to the enthusiasm that our small upstate New York town has for the medium of film.
Initially, Cornell Cinema was founded as a university film society. The student group eventually evolved into a media arts center, bringing a wide variety of performances to the Cornell campus. The group eventually took up residence on the bottom floor of Willard Straight Hall, and has been showing films, and holding talks and performances in the Willard Straight Theater since its renovation in 1989.
Cornell Cinema currently shows roughly 300 films per year, in one or more of its three locations: Willard Straight Theater, Uris Auditorium and the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. The theater brings a wide variety of films to the Cornell campus, showing a combination of old classics, silent films, indie flicks and second-run blockbuster hits. Cornell Cinema frequently features visiting artists, speakers and professors to talk about the relevance of the films being shown.
Throughout the last 40 years, Cornell Cinema has stayed true to its primary mission, as stated on their website: “to expose Ithaca and regional audiences to alternative forms of cinema as well as alternative voices not usually heard through the mass media.” Providing affordable and unique entertainment for the university community and local Ithacans alike, Cornell Cinema presents past cinematic triumphs and important current day films that may have otherwise never made it to the big screen on the shores of Cayuga Lake. Together with Cinemapolis, Cornell Cinema has sustained the Ithaca community’s love for film.
The movie theater held a birthday extravaganza to celebrate the sophistication of winter as well as the wisdom that comes with age this past Saturday. The “Elegant Winter Party” featured food donated from local Ithaca restaurants and two silent films, Charlie Chaplin’s Behind the Screen and Marion Davie’s Show People, accompanied by silent film pianist Dr. Philip Carli.
Even if you missed the party, the celebration will continue on throughout the semester. In order to commemorate Cornell Cinema’s fourth decade of operation, the movie schedule is currently running “Hits from the ’70s” — a film series that shows some of the disco decade’s largest hits. Check the schedule for upcoming showings of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and A Clockwork Orange.
So, don’t forget to wish our local movie theater a very happy birthday, and check out some of their celebratory ’70s films in the upcoming months.