Hosted by Art House Convergence, Art House Theater Day is an annual celebration of culture and community. September 18th gives us the chance to celebrate the many Miami art houses that have enriched the South Florida film scene. In an era where technology has taken over media, we have become accustomed to entertainment being digital and solitary. However, art theaters inspire film lovers to gather and encounter new ideas, cultures, and experiences.
“Art house theaters are a key part of Miami’s cultural fabric,” explains Nicolas Calzada, Director of Events and Programming at MDC’s Tower Theater Miami. He further elaborates that the Tower Theater takes pride in bringing the best of cinema to all South Florida residents. Upon its opening in 1926, the Tower Theater was considered the finest theater in the South. Now one of the oldest cultural landmarks in Miami, their mission is to “connect art with audiences, and foster a value for cinema for future generations.” Since Miami Dade College took the reigns in 2002, the theater has served as a gathering place for cultural connections in Little Havana and become the year-round art cinema for the Miami Film Festival. True to Miami’s spirit, the theater’s programming includes culturally specific films in both English and Spanish.
Juxtaposed with the Tower’s historic Miami charm, several new art cinemas began popping up in the new millennium to revitalize the Miami film scene. In October 2010, the Coral Gables Art Cinema (CGAC) opened its doors, showcasing a variety of selections from fiction to documentaries, classics to special programs, and even film festival events. Associate Director Javier Chaves says the theater “speaks directly to the multilingual and multicultural community in South Florida.” He further explains that by bringing a variety of films to their viewers, they can “expose [their] audience to new and different cultures, bridging the gap between them and showing how similar we all really are while celebrating what makes us diverse.” Diversity is Miami’s middle name. Brenda Moe, Co-Executive Director, also states, CGAC is “dedicated to programming for our entire community”. Their Family Day on Aragon program presents family features old and new, and their After Hours program showcases cult classics for grindhouse fans.
Over on the beach, O Cinema’s two locations specialize in first-run independent, foreign, art, and family films. The theater operates with three core philosophies: providing films that Miami-Dade residents would miss, offering accessible prices, and turning Miami-Dade into a cultural beacon. In addition to their regular programming, they showcase classic film screenings, works rarely seen, and restored master works. The theater is known to have unique programs fostering the opportunity for discourse and engagement with their audiences. The Awake & Aware program promotes understanding of the relationships between things, people, and processes. The Climate Change Cinema also offers the opportunity for screenings and conversations exploring scientific issues that impact the community.
In the spirit of this global celebration, Miami’s art theaters serve art, culture, and community through diverse programs. September 18th is officially Art House Theater Day–though every day offers a moment to be a part of our local art theater’s growth and history.
Julia Burgos, an English major pursuing the Film Studies Certificate, is hopeful she’ll complete her senior year with minimal sleep deprivation.