For all the dire talk about whether arthouse theaters can survive all the shifts in the industry and the dreaded conversion to digital projection, there sure are a lot of indie cinemas opening.
The latest is the $21-million, 20,000-square-foot MIST Harlem, which opened its doors Nov. 30 on West 116th St. in New York City. The minority-owned entertainment center includes a restaurant, called Harvist, and three theater spaces that can screen movies or house other types of live performance — music, spoken word and/or comedy — seven days a week.
Cinema programming will be focused on black and Latino filmmakers, with Sara Belcher’s “Otelo Burning,” Marette Monpierre’s “Elza” and Julia Loktev’s “The Loneliest Planet” among the first films on display at the new theaters. Pre-opening film screenings included scenes from Lisa and Rob Fruchtman’s post-genocide Rwanda documentary “Sweet Dreams” and Ava DuVernay’s “Middle of Nowhere.”
“The opening of MIST Harlem is the culmination of a 20-year dream to create a venue to feature the culture of the entire African and Latino diaspora,” said Roland Laird, CEO and co-owner of the venue’s operating firm My Image Studios LLC. “Without question the most enthusiasm has come from the film industry, particularly independent filmmakers. My partners and I made a significant investment in one 4K digital cinema projector and two 2K digital cinema projectors upgradable to 4K as well as top-quality sound equipment.”
Financed by the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, MIST Harlem will also program studio films that feature minority actors or were made by minority directors. The entertainment center sits in the Kalahari condo complex between Lenox and Fifth Avenues.