Save Oak Street Cinema and Minnesota Film Arts

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Check out tonight's Search and Rescue screening at the Bryant-Lake Bowl at 9:00 p.m. (a treasure trove of rare 16mm films) to support Minnesota Film Arts (MNFilmArts.org), now rumored to be on its last legs. (The Cowgill piece in City Pages suggests that this is so.) Then see Citizen Kane at MN Film Arts' Oak Street Cinema, opening Saturday. Here's an open email from Cindy Collins: "Oak St. Cinema [and Minnesota Film Arts] may be in its last days; it may not be too late. A Call to Arms: Save the Oak Street Cinema! Now till Thursday, January 19th. (Cape of Good Hope through Thursday, January 12; Casablanca and Citizen Kane Saturday January 14 – 19). The venerable Oak Street Cinema, repository of film revivals and repertory classics, is in grave danger of closing its shutters to the delightful world of film feasts for our eyes and ears for over a decade.

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"Our beloved theater, currently managed by the Minnesota Film Arts, may be closed within the next week and a half, due to financial difficulties. There is no time like the present for all of us avid cineastes and casual lovers of this treasure trove of films classic and obscure, to show the Oak St. Cinema our love. There remains a chance of resuscitating the cinema if we all take a couple hours to pile into the plush old velvet seats for beautiful South African film, Cape of Good Hope [official site here], and two of the greatest films of all time: Casablanca [links here], and Citizen Kane [IMDB site here].

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"The Oak St. Cinema, once the historic Campus Theatre [designed by modern Minnesota architects Jacob J. "Jack" Liebenberg and Seeman Kaplan out of what had once been a smaller movie house, then an indoor miniature golf course, then a garage], was revived as a single screen movie theatre in 1995. Since then, it's hosted countless first-run arthouse, foreign and indie feature films, phenomenal film festivals such as the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, Sound Unseen, Get Real Documentary Film Festival, the Minneapolis Festival of Jewish Film; major auteur-based retrospectives including Francois Truffaut, Robert Altman, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Roman Polanski, Yasujiro Ozu, and Michelangelo Antonioni; genre-based retrospectives including The French New Wave, Schemers, Scoundrels, and Sexpots: The Art of Film Noir; and been visited by luminaries from Terry Gilliam to Michael Moore to Peter Fonda to John Sayles to Elliott Gould to Winona LaDuke.

"It's inconceivable that this quintessential thread of Minneapolis's cultural fabric is in danger of disappearing but that's the word on Oak Street. Come out and let them know with your presence and your pocketbook that you want them to 'Play it Again.'"

The Bell, meanwhile, has good films scheduled through February as well, and like I said, Minnesota Film Arts's vital and wonderful Search and Rescue series continues at the Bryant-Lake Bowl tonight, Wednesday Jan. 11.

UPDATE THURSDAY: This just in my email: "UNOFFICIAL NOTICE FROM MN FILM ARTS STAFF; MEETING OF MEMBERSHIP AND FILM GOING COMMUNITY SATURDAY!!! The Minnesota Film Arts staff has called a member meeting for paying members of MFA and the public Twin Cities film-going community to discuss the future of Minnesota Film Arts. Please note that the staff has called the meeting as a staff, not as official representatives of the organization. The staff would like to briefly address all patrons present, and they have invited the Board of Directors of Minnesota Film Arts, who can speak for the organization itself.

"The meeting will take place at 7:20 pm on Saturday, January 14th at Oak Street Cinema and will precede the scheduled screening of Citizen Kane. All are welcome to attend up to capacity (305). Oak Street Cinema is located at 309 Oak Street SE near the East Bank of the U of M campus. Further information is available at www.mnfilmarts.org."

UPDATE THURSDAY EVENING: Paul Demko has the whole story at Culture to Go.

UPDATE JANUARY 18: Here's the updated version of Paul's story, with an account of the Jan. 14 meeting at Oak Street Cinema.

UPDATE JANUARY 26: Here's a complete roundup of updates and links, and things you can do to help Oak Street Cinema.

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