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.