Based in the West Village, Film Forum is an autonomous non-profit cinema house that has the wonderful distinction of being open for more than four decades. The theater’s three screens run a variety of American independent features and foreign art films every day of the year, and curates in-house film festivals, documentary showings and retrospectives as well. These special events often bring writers, directors, filmmakers and authors to the stage for lectures and Q & A sessions, which can render the fewer than 200-seat spaces a bit cramped at times. But for the cinematically passionate, Film Forum remains a mecca of quality film screenings and rare archival showings, all run by a core group of buffs and hobbyists who truly enjoy the work they do.
Located in a former fire station, this cinema in Greenwich Village is the neighborhood’s longest running. Since 1963, Cinema Village has survived on a steady diet of art-house and indie programming, which has included documentaries, animation, cult classics, foreign films and festival screenings. Now decked out for the digital era, the three screens continue to play to audiences of up to 156 inside the tight, spartan theaters. But the lack of creature comforts matters little to the dedicated patrons who come for the shows they can’t get anywhere else in the city. And should you arrive too early to grab a seat, waiting space is always available in the small, dim downstairs lounge.
The Flying Karamazov Brothers explode with ramshackle percussion, frenetic footwork, and musically inspired jokery amidst myriad trademark juggling routines. The daffiness is dashed with danger as the kilt-sporting Brothers juggle an arsenal of hazardous objects in their signature act, "The Terror," while an element of impromptu excellence enters during "The Gamble," an act that involves the juggling of personal items procured from the obliging, applauding audience.
Abbey Theatre veteran Ray Yeates takes audiences on a guided tour of the Irish émigré’s psyche with an uplifting one-man performance set amid the Irish economy's stunning collapse. In this standalone sequel to his internationally produced In High Germany, acclaimed playwright Dermot Bolger reconnects audiences with Eoin, an expat back in the country of his birth after an extended stay in Germany. Armed with no more than his sharp wits and the stitching on his polo shirt, Ray Yeates convincingly transforms the intimate West Village stage into Dublin Airport for a riveting 75-minute performance. Making use of airports’ birthday-clown-like tendency to evoke existential dread, the play extracts an uplifting story of friendship and family from the midst of a late-night boarding area.
Originally called the Austin, this vintage 1930s theater has seen several ups and downs in its history, from years as a second-run double-feature house to a red-tinted stint that got it shut down by the city. In its current incarnation, the Kew Gardens Cinemas flaunts restored art-deco flair alongside modern projectors and molar-rocking surround sound. Stadium seating and a fully stocked concession stand further complement current flicks by granting every set of eyes a great view and every set of dental braces something to hold during scary scenes. Swing by the theater with a friend to snack on your own small popcorns (a $5 value each) and sip sodas (a $3.50 value each) while enjoying a vintage movie-viewing experience that beats watching Betamax tapes on your Great Uncle Vinnie's 1978 Zenith.
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.