Since 1973, the Cinema Arts Centre (CAC) in Huntington, New York, has cultivated a thriving community for the love and study of cinema and the arts on Long Island.
Film festivals, educational programs and the showcasing of new and classic films have made the Centre a cultural hub for moviegoers. Nate Close, CAC’s marketing and communications director, was interviewed by The Click to discuss the theater’s 50 year mission.
The Click: What is the mission of the Cinema Arts Centre? What role does it play in the community?
Close: Our mission is to bring the most diverse selection of films and cinematic artistry to Long Island, that’s what we’ve been trying to do for 50 years now…September 1st was actually our 50th anniversary…we’re very involved in the community. The cinema brings something like a million and a half dollars of revenue to the town…we partner with a lot of local businesses.
The Click: On top of screenings of Indy and art films, what sort of programs and events are offered here?
Close: Our bread and butter has been indy cinema, but over the last couple of years, especially post-pandemic, we’ve branched out to screenings of classic films and cult classics. Every Sunday morning we do a classic kids film…Hard to find in-theater screenings, beloved classics…we have a 48-hour film festival. We have live music, occasional comedy, and author talks. We’re pretty diversified in our programming.
The Click: A lot of the old school film personalities are saying “cinema is under attack” by franchises and blockbusters. What are your thoughts on that?
Close: I think cinema is at a strange period, even recently we’ve seen a kind of a rejection of these commercial films. Some of the recent Marvel movies haven’t performed as they have in the past. I think the landscape is constantly changing, people are always looking for something new. It’s still a challenging time for movie theaters. A lot of theaters closed during the pandemic, production hasn’t really resumed the way it was pre-pandemic so there’s less films available. We were given exclusive rights to certain films in the area. Now, just because there’s less films, they’re released in all theaters. So we’re competing with AMC and commercial theaters more…I think, [Martin] Scorsese and some of these other [filmmakers] make good points that this commodification of movies is hurting the industry, but I think there’s still a lot people who are diehard cinephiles that want to see cinema that’s considered artwork then the next edition of a series of comic book movies…but I don’t think it’s anything new. I think that spectacle-driven films have always existed and always will exist. It’s just the movie market finding a balance between that kind of film and the art films.
The Click: How has streaming impacted the theater?
Close: It definitely has impacted attendance numbers. Especially after the pandemic, people got comfortable not leaving their houses and consuming their films from home. Sometimes you can’t blame them. It’s much more convenient to just sit on your couch and watch a movie, but you lose the experience of experiencing these potentially culture-shifting moments in film. Streaming has hurt movie theater attendance across the country, generally, but it’s just part of the shifting cultural landscape. You just gotta adjust. Not everything can be found on streaming so we try to show stuff, that people are like ‘I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for years, and this is the only place I’ve been able to do so.’ So we try to capitalize on that.