By Janee Law
The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington is preparing to launch the inaugural spring season of the Cinema Arts Preview Club, which will allow members the opportunity to watch and critique films before they’re publicly available.
But, there’s a catch. Club members won’t know what they’ll be watching until they get to the theater.
“You don’t really know what you’re walking into,” said Raj Tawney, the cinema’s director of publicity and promotions. “There’s this feeling of excitement and anticipation that you’re going to go see something that you haven’t seen and nobody else has seen... and you come in with no bias or opinion.”
The program is anticipated to show new indie and international films, which will be curated by David Schwartz, a former Huntington resident, and chief curator at the Queens-based Museum of the Moving Image.
“You’re literally trusting one person to bring you a film that he feels is worthy to show you, so I think that’s why it’s very exciting,” Tawney said, adding that Schwartz got his first job at the Cinema Arts Centre. “He’s done [the program] elsewhere and it’s been wildly successful.”
Familiar with the Cinema’s audience, Schwartz said he knew the program would be a perfect fit.
“This is an audience that loves going to movies, that loves the social experience of seeing a movie in the theater instead of just watching it at home,” Schwartz said.
At the end of each film, the audience will get to fill out review cards, participate in surveys and have open discussions about the film. Schwartz will mold the series based on response.
“The cool thing is that it’s kind of interactive,” Tawney said. “We always include them in the conversation, we make them feel like it’s more than just seeing a movie you feel like you’re having a greater experience here.”
“People are looking for movies that are outside of the mainstream,” Schwartz said. “[You] get a special experience that’s a little different, that’s more than just going out and seeing a movie, there’s an element of surprise and discovery and discussion.”
A special guest involved with the film, whether it’s a producer or an actor, will be at each screening. The first showing will be on March 16. After that, there will be showings on April 6, April 27, May 11 and May 25.
So far, Tawney said, 150 people have signed up for the club, and the cinema is accepting a maximum of 270 members. Depending on if, and how quick, the program sell out, Tawney said the cinema will consider a waiting list, or extending the member cap.
To join the exclusive club there’s a $75 charge for cinema members and a $90 charge for non-members. For more information, visit CinemaArtsCentre.org, or call 631-423-7611.