It doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to group Janus Films with those few indispensable American institutions, which have historically acted not just to distribute or exhibit art, but to actually represent a vision of what art is and can be. When Bryant Halliday and Cyrus Harvey founded the company 50 years ago, they parlayed their experience as film programmers into distribution. No one else was bringing international cinema to American screens, so Halliday and Harvey took it upon themselves; from the beginning, Janus was the exclusive province of film lovers, that stately coin logo being the seal of film as art. If the French New Wave’s politiques des auteurs provided the theoretical underpinning for the emerging American cinephilia of the ’60s, Janus Films was the engine. Max Goldberg reports.