By Isabel Gitten
The show must go on at the M.V. Film Society, and executive director Richard Paradise is enthusiastic about continuing to bring cultural arts to the Island this fall. September’s lineup includes the yearly anticipated International Film Festival, the Met Opera Encore, and the Manhattan Short Film Festival.
Paradise and his team are working hard to preserve the Film Society experience and mission throughout the pandemic. If you are looking for a place to watch independent films, classics, documentaries, or even an opera this fall, the Film Center is just your place.
The 15th annual International Film Festival will be the headline September event at the Film Center. From Sept. 8 to 13, festival attendees will enjoy screenings of internationally acclaimed films at the center, or from the comfort of their homes. “What I always look forward to is sharing these great international cinema films,” Paradise said. “I love sharing films from across the globe about places and people we might not be exposed to.”
The International Film Festival will look different this fall than it has in years past. The kickoff tented gala event and closing dinner party have been canceled, and attendees will also be able to choose a virtual pass that will allow them to bring the film festival program home.
The festival lineup will be announced in late August, and will include virtual Q and As with directors and speakers throughout the week. All films will be shown at the Film Center.
The Metropolitan Opera will also return to the Film Center this fall. Visitors will be able to watch reruns of the Met Opera’s awardwinning series of cinema simulcasts as part of the Met Opera 2020 Encore event.
The end of September will bring the Manhattan Short Film Festival. This festival is one of the largest short film festivals in the world, and will feature finalist films from the competition. Audience members will get the chance to join other filmgoers across the world in casting their vote for favorite short film and actor or actress.
The Film Center reopened in July in compliance with state regulations. This summer, the center’s capacity is 25 guests, with socially distant seating. The theater is sanitized regularly, and masks are required while in the building.
“I think our theater is socially distant in a way that makes us safer than a grocery store or a retail store,” Paradise said. “People are spread out; they aren’t crowded in aisles. You don’t have to pass through people.”
For the first week of September, the Film Center will operate with its summer schedule, with films every night. After Sept. 13, the center will adjust to its off-season schedule of showing films Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased in advance at mvfilmsociety.com, or at the door 30 minutes before a show.
“We are one of the few cultural art organizations that was able to open this summer,” Paradise said. “We are doing a lot of new and alternative things to get through this period of the pandemic.”
If you are looking to enjoy your popcorn from your couch, the Film Society also offers the Film Center at Home program, which allows viewers to rent Film Center movies from the comfort of their own homes.
“[Film Center at Home] has been a silver lining with all that’s going on,” Paradise said. “We are staying engaged with people virtually, because they are not ready to come back into the theater.”
And if you are craving the theater experience with the feel of home privacy, the Film Center will also be available for private rentals, for groups and families under 25 people.
“I don’t care if it’s five people here or 150, I am going to provide the best possible entertainment show for those people that are here,” Paradise said. “We are here to provide a cultural outlet.”
And with that, the Film Society is standing strong through the pandemic, with Paradise ready to socially distantly greet every film fanatic who walks through the door.