Film Society Unveils the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center


Here at, we’ve covered the New York Film Festival for roughly eight years now, and we probably have mentioned at least once or twice the amount of construction taking place around Lincoln Center. All of that hard work is finally coming to fruition as the Film Society of Lincoln Center unveiled a number of new enterprises today with the official opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on 65th Street, as well as announcing a free-to-the-public weekend from June 10 to 12 featuring lots of free screenings and events.

The big difference between the new Film Center and the Walter Reade Theater across the street is that this is planned as a place for exclusive first runs of films in New York, starting with Andrew Rossi’s Page One: Inside the New York Times on Friday, June 17, as well as a place that can be used for people to discuss and learn about film. People who just want to see the movies playing can walk up to the ticket booth like at any theater, but the Film Society’s abundant resources will allow them to get prestigious filmmakers there to talk about their work.

Designed by Dave Rockwell and the Rockwell Group, the new Film Center is comprised of two screening rooms, the Francesca Beale Theater which seats 144 and the Howard Gilman Theater, which seats 87. These are considered to be state-of-the-art theaters that are meant to provide the optimum cinema viewing experience with top-level projection and sound and comfortable seating that they spared no expense to create. During a press conference earlier, the Film Society’s Director of Programming Richard Peña made it clear that the Film Center is in no way meant to replace the Walter Reade Theater, which will still be used for screenings and series that require its more abundant seating for 280 people. We were told that ticket pricing will be comparable with other New York City arthouses such as the Film Forum and IFC Center.

The most striking aspect of the new Film Center is the 87-seat Ampitheater that greets you as you walk into the lobby as it sports one of only three existing 152-inch Full HD 3D plasma screens, and the only one on public display. This Ampitheater, of which you can see a rendering above, is very distinctive in that it’s going to be used more for presentations and talks, and it adds to the Film Society’s desire to have a place where people who see movies there can take part in conversations. (It’s interesting to see that Rockwell incorporated the concrete ceiling and central pillar from the original parking garage that resided in the space into the design of the ampitheater.) As one enters the Film Center, they’re welcomed by a lobby and café that also offers space for pre and post movie conversations.

The Film Society Lincoln Center has also partnered with Emerging Pictures in order to stream content to theaters across the country and vice versa, which will begin with the upcoming “From Britain with Love” series that showcases six new independent films by British filmmakers, including Peter Mullan’s NEDs and Toast, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore, which will premiere during the free weekend.

One of the free panels that should be of great interest to indie movie buffs is Ted Hope’s “New Faces of New York Independent Film” panel on Saturday, June 11 at 4PM. Hope is the producer and purveyor of many fine indie films including Adventureland, 21 Grams and Super, and he’s assembled a who’s who of indie talent including Mike Cahill and Sean Durkin, directors of this year’s Sundance big buzz movies Another Earth (playing at the Film Center in July) and Martha Marcy May Marlene, respectively, Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), Ben and Josh Safdie (Daddy Long Legs), Gavin Wiesen (The Art of Getting By ) and more.

On Friday, June 10 at 10pm, the Film Center will have a twelve-hour Opening Night Classics Movie Marathon that includes films like Pedro Almodovar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the Coens’ Miller’s Crossing and more.

Also on Friday at 6:30, Oliver Stone will be on hand to present “Alexander Revisited,” his final cut of the historic epic that was critically drubbed a few years back, while Merv Bloch, producer of many classic trailers will be the subject of a presentation called “Merv Bloch’s Trailer Show” on Friday at 7:30 PM. Paul Schrader will be giving a film class on Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist on Sunday, June 12 at 1:30 PM, while Kevin Smith’s SMoviola will present Martha Coolidge’s 1980 comedy Valley Girl with both Smith and Coolidge in attendance. That’s on Saturday, June 11 at 7PM. Music group Fall On Your Sword (featured in Cahill’s Another Earth) will give a free live performance on Saturday at 9PM. (We think the “secret screening” on Saturday night at 10PM is in fact Cahill’s Another Earth, but we don’t have confirmation of that.)

Tickets for these free screenings and others will be available on the Official Film Society Site in the next couple days or early next week. You can also find the full list of events here.

The Elinor Bunim Munroe Film Center will officially open on June 17 with the exclusive first-run showing of Andrew Rossi’s Page One: Inside the New York Times, which we’ll have more about that week.