Saturday, December 27, 2014

Bryn Mawr Film Institute's grand 'reopening,' with two new state-of-the-art theaters

A 9-year, $10 million restoration and expansion comes to its triumphant conclusion with Sunday's official "reopening" of the Main Line arthouse complex, now with four screens and 860 seating capacity.

Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s grand 'reopening,’ with two new state-of-the-art theaters

Bryn Mawr Film Institute 824 W. Lancaster Ave
Bryn Mawr Film Institute 824 W. Lancaster Ave

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute, the second largest member-supported art house in the country (7,000-plus and counting), celebrates its grand “reopening” on Sunday, April 27, with the formal dedication of the cinema complex and its two new state-of-the-art, wall-to-wall screened digital theaters. While the two new houses, each with 165 seats in tiered stadium-style rows, have been up and running since the end of January, Sunday’s festivities (music, dancing, food, fun – and films, of course) mark the official debut..

The Main Line movie mecca, which began its life in 1926 as The Seville, an opulent cinema palace, has become a go-to destination for area film lovers, whether they be members of the BMFI or not. On Friday, April 25, the programming lineup includes Wes Anderson’s hit The Grand Budapest Hotel, the Mumbai love story The Lunchbox, the holocaust drama, Walking With the Enemy, starring Sir Ben Kingsley (the British actor is a BMFI board member), Le Week-End  and the documentary gem, Finding Vivian Maier.

With the addition of the two new houses -- the end-point of a three-phase, nine-year, $10 million restoration and expansion drive – “our programming opportunities have vastly increased,” says Juliet Goodfriend, the BMFI’s tireless executive director. On top of its regular theatrical runs, BMFI books numerous special events, film courses, repertory programs and other screenings.

“I think audiences are astounded by the selection,”  Goodfriend adds.  “It’s not just four movies -- sometimes we split the screen and sometimes we have 5, 6, 7 or even 8 movies going on during the same period. It’s mind-boggling to try to program…. But it’s very gratifying to have that much activity going on as well.

“Now I want a fifth screen – or  two more!” she jokes. At least, we think she’s joking.

For information about Sunday’s dedication celebration, click here or call the box office hotline at 610-527-9898.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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