The Charlotte Film Society has signed a letter of intent with Flywheel Group, LLC, and has begun a fundraising campaign to open a 3-screen non-profit arthouse community cinema with an anticipated opening in 2021. The community cinema will serve as the new home for foreign and independent films in Charlotte. In addition, the Charlotte Film Society plans for the community cinema to be a resource for local and regional filmmakers, a space for local film festivals, and an educational and cultural film hub for the Charlotte community.
The closing down of the Manor Theatre, announced May 20th, left a huge gap in foreign and independent film exhibition in Charlotte. The Manor was the destination for arthouse films in the Queen City for over 30 of its 73 years, and housed the Charlotte Film Society for over 20 years. The Manor’s demise came on the heels of the closing of Park Terrace and Ballantyne Village cinemas, which both shut down within the last 27 months. According to retired Charlotte Observer movie critic Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte is the largest U.S. city without a theater devoted to non-mainstream movies. Toppman states, “We’re rightly proud of our culture, from the symphony to the ballet to the opera,” he says. “But without an alternative movie house, they’re like a beautiful smile that’s missing a tooth.”
The Charlotte Film Society believes it is important and necessary for Charlotte to have a dedicated community arthouse cinema.
“The closing of the Manor and other arthouse cinemas in Charlotte has left a cinematic void in this city,” says Jay Morong, Senior Lecturer of Theatre & Film at UNC Charlotte and Program Director of the Charlotte Film Society. “As a programmer, I believe that a city as diverse and artistically vibrant as Charlotte needs a cinematic home for foreign and independent films, and a home for films that paint outside the traditional Hollywood lines. I am excited at the prospect of creating a cinema and bringing films that speak with, and to, all parts of the Charlotte community, and having a truly independent non-profit community cinema allows us to do just that … to speak and engage with Charlotte through cinema.”
Brad Ritter, Charlotte Film Society Board President and longtime General Manager of the Manor Theatre, adds “The new Charlotte Film Society Community Cinema will act as the cultural centerpiece for all community film organizations in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. We will offer the same great film programming that the Manor had, and by adding the third screening room we will have the flexibility to expand upon the Manor model. Being a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we will be able to provide an affordable space to other local film organizations and we will also expand the educational component of our programming.”
The new Charlotte Film Society Community Cinema will be in an ideal location, in the Trailhead Arts District adjacent to the Sugar Creek stop on the LYNX Blue Line. The Trailhead district is poised to become an important and vibrant arts destination, and the new cinema will be an important component of arts offerings in the area.
Charlotte Film Society Board Member Angel Truesdale, who was born and raised Charlotte, says
“We need more community art spaces, and as Charlotte rapidly increases development, it’s important that we nurture our diverse population. This community cinema will be operated as a non-profit, with local management and, most importantly, with a mission to screen representations in the spectrum of experiences that make up our beautiful city.”
In its initial fundraising goal, the Charlotte Film Society hopes to receive community support and investment of $150,000 to purchase projection equipment and begin the construction of the new cinema space. More information about the fundraising campaign can be found at charity.gofundme.com/