Long Beach Cinematheque Opens Spaces in LB, Doors in Santa Ana • Long Beach Post

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“I just wanna keep movies on walls,” says Long Beach Cinematheque’s Executive Director Logan Crow.


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And with that single phrase, Crow announces that his four year-old nonprofit cinema provider is going through massive changes that include the purchase of new outdoor screening equipment, new partnerships to activate spaces throughout Long Beach and perhaps most surprising of all–a new movie theater in Downtown Santa Ana, where the Cinematheque will be taking over all programming for this coming September. 

These are changes that, Crow and his Long Beach-based board of directors hope, will alter not just Long Beach’s cinema scene, but the entire regional art scene as well. After all, they are part of that modern school of thinking that believes film is not just a form of entertainment that moves and flows with technology alone, but one in which the classic experience—watching images dance on a wall—should always be accessible.

That stance is in itself philosophical simplicity: like any great art, it can’t be held behind close doors—and given this, celluloid cannot under any circumstance be confined to a canister. And in a time of rising movie ticket prices and a declining theater audience, this endeavor is more important than ever for both cinephiles and the filmic layman.

“For the first time, pieces are starting to fall in place,” explained Long Beach Cinematheque Boardmember Luis Navarro. “It seems like in 2013 and 2014, we’ll actually be generating funds instead of always being in the red—and that means we can fund more projects, more things beyond a simple film screening.”

Those perfect puzzle pieces began to fall with them reaching out to the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau in a partnership that originally revolved around outdoor film events. That discussion eventually evolved into a conversation on not just accessing but purchasing an $18,000 portable, digital film projector to fulfill those dreams of filling walls with the art of film. And after a generous donations from the Bureau as well as Shoreline Village, the Cinematheque is only a fraction shy—some $5,000—from obtaining it.

The whole goal—much like the outdoor cinema screenings the nonprofit has held at the Press-Telegram Building—is focused on activating spaces that ultimately transform them momentarily into cinemuseums.

“I came down here from L.A.,” explained Logan, echoing memories of Angeleno staples like Cinespia, the American Cinematheque, and Cinefamily. “And I noticed a lack here in Long Beach. A lot of it was inspired by L.A. but it wasn’t just L.A. that had what I was looking for—it was all major cities: Seattle, Chicago, winter cities that still managed to do outdoor screenings. And when a city doesn’t have what you love, you collaborate with others who want to try and get those things off the ground. So that’s what I decided to do.”

This includes activating, for example, Sunnyside Cemetery which will host outdoor film events this summer as well as bringing more of the behind-the-screen talent, as they did when they brought Killer Clowns from Outer Space creators Stephen & Charles Chiodo to talk during a screening or when Kevin Smith appeared for a Q&A following a screening of Red State.

“In getting that outdoor equipment, it allows the Cinematheque to be more nimble,” said Boardmember Jasmine Bulin. “More nimble in its programming so it can be more in the community. We can show films day and night. We even have an FM transmitter to have drive-in style events.”

This, of course, does not mean the Cinematheque will be relegated to a gypsy cinema group that only meanders spot-to-spot. They’ve been searching for a permanent space here in the homeland. And in this searching, the group will now reach it’s filmic offerings beyond the borders of Long Beach thanks to what Crow called a “dream email” from a Santa Ana property owner.

That owner saw what the Cinematheque was and is doing in Long Beach and has now provided them the opportunity to not just open membership subscriptions for support, but run and program a full-time arthouse cinema—which truly equates to any film geek’s dream.

The permanent space–inside what is now the Fiesta Twin in Downtown Santa Ana–permits the nonprofit to run student films, LGBT fare, films that lack distributors or have micro-budget, and other pieces of the cinematic spectrum that may have otherwise never met a wall to be shown on outside of computer and television screens.

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The Long Beach Cinematheque’s new movie house in Santa Ana. Photo courtesy of the Long Beach Cinematheque.

And come September, the Cinematheque’s permanent location—two screens with some 650 seats between them—will be offering daily servings of cinematic goodness on top of its local, Long Beach mobile programming.

Pundits may shout criticisms of civic abandon, but Crow sees it as the opposite. Rather, Santa Ana and Long Beach act as kindred spirits that will only benefit what he has already been doing right here in Long Beach.

“I see this as where I’ve always wanted to see the Cinematheque go—this is my dream,” Crow said. “I don’t want them to see it as an exodus because it’s anything but that. It’s a cultivation.”

That cultivation goes beyond a Burton exhibit, something the Cinematheque board acknowledge will undoubtedly bring money; it goes to show that this Santa Ana endeavor, without the risk of depending upon ticket sales, will permit oddities to be shown for the simple good of showing them. In other words: it permits the curation of films that harness every great city’s cinematic art scene under the single roof for Southern Californians to enjoy.

Echoing Crow’s sentiment, Bulin reiterated the organization’s dedication to Long Beach.

“The ultimate dream of course is to have a permanent home in Long Beach,” said Bulin, who proudly pointed out that the Cinematheque’s funding is mostly redirected back into Long Beach—not for administrative costs. “This means Logan’s passion has furthered the community, but not infrastructure. But the time has come where that is in the future.”

To follow the Long Beach Cinematheque on Facebook to receive frequent updates, click here.

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