Saturday, March 23, 2013

The End of An Era: 92YTribeca to Close

Word came this month that the 92YTribeca screening room, the home of Iron Mule, will be closing this June.

92YTribeca was an atypical place; subsidized by the uptown 92Y, it was tucked away on an otherwise desolate stretch of Hudson Street between traffic entryways to the Holland Tunnel. But they had a state-of-the-art screening room, with a robust, exciting, and always surprising film program.

Before our time at 92YTribeca, the Iron Mule screened for many years at the dearly beloved Pioneer Theater in the East Village. 92YTribeca was just opening when that theater went under, and the fledgling institution offered us a new home. We were proud to hold one of the first screenings at 92YTribeca. And over the years, members of the Iron Mule community have shown all sorts of work there outside of our monthly screenings.

The film programmer, Cristina Cacioppo, has been a great friend to us. She fought for the best screening equipment for our filmmakers and she allowed us to program the occasional feature comedy films, which she procured on 35mm prints.

Cristina’s unique vision mixing good and so-bad-it’s-unbelievably-good cinema along with a dedication to amplifying the live experience of a theatrical film screening was a perfect match for what we strive for at the Iron Mule. She was an advocate for independent voices and all kinds of cinema, high and low. There has been and is no other programming line up just like Cristina’s. The closest cognate is the type of programming you get at the Alamo Drafthouse (outside of NYC, but moving here in 2014 – they could do no better than to hire Cristina immediately).

The people at the 92nd Street Y, which is a revered and powerful cultural institution, stated in their press release that “a second, physical location is not critical to our mission,” which discounts the thousands of filmmakers and scores of independent filmmakers who have relied on 92YTribeca for a unique film-going experience, and often the only opportunity to see rare and classic films on the big screen. We presented a screening of Olsen and Johnson’s Crazy House there in a 35mm print – we bet that will not happen again in a NYC theater for the next decade, if not longer.

As the New Yorker critic Richard Brody points out in his article “Save 92YTribeca,” 92YTribeca has made itself critical to NYC moviegoers and deserves saving. But whether such saving will happen is extremely doubtful. So we bid a fond farewell to 92YTribeca. There will be nothing quite like you. And here’s to the years of fantastic work by Cristina Cacioppo, and her singular programming vision. We can’t wait to see what she does next.

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