It started in 1970 with only 50 folding chairs, one projector and a very small annual budget of only $19,000. Today, Film Forum Theater located on 209 W Houston St, counts with 3 screens, 489 seats, 67 employees, 4000 members, and an incredible annual budget of $250,000 and is open 365 days a year.
Film Forum opened with a specific purpose: to present two very unique and admiring forms of film, New York City premieres of American Independent films and Foreign Art films. Film Forum is the only nonprofit cinema of New York City and one of the few in the entire United States. One of its screens is dedicated to both forms of film with very popular selections. This distinguished theater presents New Yorkers with a variety of films which deal with cultural, political and historical issues in today’s world.
As of right now, Film Forum is presenting Taxi Driver, Bill Cunningham, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and A Tribute to Jack Garfein.
Despite the many years I have lived in New York, I had never heard of Film Forum before. However, I opened up my mind and decided to give this theater a chance. I went in an attempt to watch a film, but unfortunately I was not able to make it on time for the show. However, I stayed in an effort to look around the theater. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. I felt comfortable being there and I was eager to go back with a group of friends and actually watch a film. While I was looking around, I was able to talk for a few minutes with two girls, Carlina Paniagua and Isbelia Cruz. They have been friends for about 10 years and they are both huge fanatics of Independent Films. These two girls make it a habit to go to Film Forum at least once a month. “In Previous years, we would come here about once every two weeks, or if they were showing highly interesting films we would come more frequently” says Carlina.
Unfortunately, the dreadful economy has been one of the major reasons why, not only Carlina and Isbelia, but other loyal members of Film Forum have been forced to reduce the number of visits they make and as a result, they miss out on great Independent and Foreign Art films, but as Isbelia says, “Hopefully the economy will rise up again so we will be able to enjoy Film Forum as much as we did before, or at least as much as we would like to enjoy it.”
Film Forum’s mission when it first opened was simple: to present programs with attention to unique cinematic qualities, and historical importance either individually or within genres relevant to today’s world. Today, Film Forum still serves its mission and it is the leading movie house for Independent and Foreign Art films. In 41 years, Film Forum has been able to grow and provide those indies and foreign art films fanatics and let’s hope they will continue to provide great entertainment and great art for another 41 years or more.