The community of journalists and experimental filmmakers behind UnionDocs isn't content to just record something and assume it's the truth. Rather, as The Brooklyn Rail suggests, it tackles the larger questions of "what it means to tell true stories, and how to document them." Every year, UnionDocs hosts more than 100 nonfiction events, ranging from film screenings to oral histories, all focused on under-represented subjects such as incarcerated musicians in Louisiana. Following presentations at the "intimate" space—so dubbed by Time Out New York—the creators behind that night's work stick around for a discussion with the audience.
Besides showcasing the works of others, the crew at UnionDocs tirelessly produces nonfiction of their own. The organization's website constantly updates with critical writing, interviews, and videos, while its workshops—such as a free filmmaking course for LGBT youth—cater to budding artists. Production meetings, seminars, and screenings spark inspiration every week, as do frequent master classes, critiques, and how-I-take-my-coffee seminars with visiting artists.
On Thursdays, professional comedians point out the movie?s most obvious plot holes and most subtle Fellini homages while audiences partake in drinking games and dish their own commentary. Then on weekends, they offer brunch, along with comedy classics and marathon viewings of comedy legends.
Occupying a newly renovated facility in the historic Astoria Studio complex where filmmakers have been bringing movies to life since 1927, The Museum of the Moving Image sits on the campus of one of the largest film and television production facilities on the East Coast. Established in 1981 by the Astoria Motion Picture and Television Center Foundation, the museum has been called ?an amazing place? by Frommer?s, while Fodor?s says it is ?twice as nice as before? its 2011 renovation. Recently, the museum has been awarded the titles of Best One-Spot-Satisfies-All Museum and Best for Film Fanatics by Time Out New York, as well as Coolest Museum Ever by Conde Nast Traveler and Best Museum?2013 by The Village Voice.
The museum displays a collection of over 130,000 movie artifacts. More than 1,400 of those are displayed in the museum's core Behind the Screen exhibition, with objects ranging from historical cameras to makeup used on the set of Sex and the City. Along with relics, the exhibit details the filmmaking process of early pictures such as The Great Train Robbery. For an interactive look at modern-day filmmaking, guests can create their own stop-motion animations at computer-based interactive stations.
The museum's ongoing First Look series gives visitors a chance to watch brand new films before they hit the festival circuit, and in 2015, the museum plans to launch an entire gallery dedicated to Jim Henson. When it's not chronicling filmmaking efforts, the museum annually screens more than 400 films in its cutting-edge 267-seat Sumner M. Redstone Theater and 68-seat screening room. Selections run the gamut from restored archival prints and new international releases to silent films scored with professional live music, a far better soundtrack than audience members humming their favorite movie themes at the same time.
The Jackson Heights Cinema opened on the day after Christmas in 1924. At the time, the theater played films on a single screen, with musical accompaniment provided by a wood-burning Wurlitzer organ. While holding on to its classic decor, the theater now hosts three screens with digital stereo sound crisply soundtracking subtitled Latin-American and Bollywood films as well as US blockbusters.
With an American flag hanging from its brick façade and its name scrawled in red cursive atop an old-fashioned marquee, The Pavilion Theater looks like it sprung from the screen of a 1950s film. But in reality, it stands right in the middle of Brooklyn. The two-story neighborhood picture house combines both of these worlds, whisking away audiences to another era with its quaint charm and sepia ushers while staying current with a rotating roster of newly released films.
At the intersection of St. Marks Place and Second Avenue in the East Village, the 299-seat Orpheum Theatre has been staging performances and projecting films behind its red-brick, neo-classical façade for more than a century. What the interior lacks in old world grandness, it more than makes up in intimacy, thanks to its two narrow levels, which makes every seat in the house a good one. Achieving greater notoriety in the 1980s for premiering the musical Little Shop of Horrors, the theater went on to become the home of the percussive Stomp, which has lived here since 1994. Since then, the walls have gradually filled with a mélange of street-life ephemera related to the show; subway signs, motorcycle parts, chains and metal scaffolding all give the room a theatrically urban ambiance.