Located in the heart of downtown Coral Gables, right around the corner from Miracle Mile, Coral Gables Art Cinema has built a loyal following of fans during the past five years with its selection of classic films and independent movies that are hard to find elsewhere.
President and founder Steven Krams explained the history of the theater and its special ties to the community.
“It was opened Oct. 14, 2010,” Krams said. “I’ve been in the motion picture business for nearly 50 years. This project is a little different from others because it’s a 501(c)(3) charitable organization so it’s a not-for-profit tax -exempt facility.
“It’s a public-private partnership between the City of Coral Gables and the Coral Gables Cinemateque, which operates this theater. This all started under the tenure of Don Slesnick, who was mayor then.”
Krams explained that the funding came from the City of Coral Gables for the structure and finishing, along with the Coral Gables Community Foundation and Magna-Tech Electronic Company, which is his company specializing in equipment for movie theaters. There were others from the community who donated money as well.
“Some of the early sponsors key in getting this project off the ground were the Bacardi Corporation, Professional Bank, HBO and Fox Network,” Krams said.
Ben Delgado, an associate director of the theater who has a graduate degree from Ohio State University, said that they show a variety of films there. “We do first run art house cinema,” Delgado said. “That includes foreign films, independent American cinema, documentaries, the occasional special program. We do the National Theater Live as a program from the National Theater in London that we stream here live.
We’ve had Helen Mirren on the screen from the stage, different Broadway productions we’ve put on, but mostly we do features from other countries and those made independently in America.”
Javier Chavez, also an associate director and a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, explained what makes the work so meaningful for him. “We pride ourselves that the films we show are films you can’t get anywhere else in a multiplex or in any other theater in Miami,” Chavez said.
“We have unique programming from around the world. All kinds of things that we bring here and show to South Florida audiences. For me it’s always the films themselves. Whenever I sit down and watch a movie to see if it works for us, I get so engrossed in that world, being able to discover unique new talent, new worlds, and then to be able to share them with people in my neighborhood. That’s the most fun part for me.”
Chavez said that coming up on Sept. 4, the theater is premiering a documentary called Best of Enemies. “It’s about Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley’s debates here in Miami Beach way back when,” Chavez said.
“It’s a wonderful documentary and we actually have an opening night and then a red carpet premiere. Michael Putney is going to come to the theater as our guest and participate in a Q&A with the audience and our director of programming, Nat Chediak, and discuss the topic of the film.”
Delgado explained about the program they call Matinee Essentials, which are films they feel are essential for the cinephile’s diet, essential classic films.
“In August we have Memories of Underdevelopment, a 35-millimeter Cuban film, and for that one we’ll have the biographer of the filmmaker come and speak to us at the screenings,” Delgado said. “As far as the children and family programming, once a month we put on a children’s film. That will be on Aug. 8 and 9. We have Heidi, with Shirley Temple from 1937, in 16-millimeter.”
The theater will present a children’s film festival from Dec. 26 through 31, with international films for youngsters. That program is underwritten by the Knight Foundation.
There is also a small museum of historic film equipment within the theater complex.
Coral Gables Cinema is located at 260 Aragon Ave. For show times and other information visit onlie at www.gablescinema.com or call 786-385-9689.