CIN­EMA PARADISO

IT’S THE ART­HOUSE LIN­KLATER BUILT: THE DI­REC­TOR’S LONG­TIME VI­SION COMES TO LIFE WITH THE NEW, TWOSCREEN AFS CIN­EMA.

Austin Way - - SCENE | STYLE | SPACE - BY KATHY BLACKWELL

Think of the new AFS Cin­ema, which opened Me­mo­rial Day week­end, as Austin’s per­ma­nent film fes­ti­val—a venue not only for avant-garde, clas­sic, and other in­de­pen­dent films, but a gath­er­ing place for this city’s many fer­vent cinephiles.

The Austin Film So­ci­ety ex­ten­sively ren­o­vated the for­mer March­esa Hall & Theatre—the home of the non­profit’s film se­ries since 2013—into a two-screen, full­time art­house the­ater with a cafe, ex­pan­sive lobby, and pri­vate event space. Long the vi­sion of Austin’s Os­carnom­i­nated di­rec­tor Richard Lin­klater, who founded the AFS in 1985, the venue was re­designed by renowned lo­cal ar­chi­tect Michael Hsu and his team as well as bou­tique ar­chi­tec­ture firm De­sign­trait. “It’s like our church,” Lin­klater says dur­ing an in­ti­mate pre­view.

Turn­ing the large, cav­ernous space in a strip mall into a film lover’s dream venue was a chal­lenge. Af­ter clos­ing the one-screen March­esa Hall in Novem­ber, the de­sign team got to work. “We wanted to in­cor­po­rate de­sign

“ART CIN­E­MAS ARE GO­ING AWAY, BUT WE’RE CON­FI­DENT IN OUR COM­MU­NITY THAT THIS WILL WORK.” —RICHARD LIN­KLATER

el­e­ments that harken to what we love about the medium, like the glam­our,” says Hsu dur­ing the pre­view. The huge lobby be­comes more in­ti­mate un­der a mar­quee-style light fix­ture. Warm reds and am­bers in­vite peo­ple to stay, eat, drink, and pe­ruse the vin­tage movie posters and al­bum wall of sound­tracks, cour­tesy of Lin­klater’s col­lec­tion. “It’s im­por­tant to have a place to talk about the movie be­fore and af­ter,” says Hsu.

Chef Peter Klein, for­merly of Ola­maie, runs the cin­ema’s café and bar. The menu in­cludes grab-and-go items for the the­ater or to en­joy in the lobby, from Austin’s Smokey Den­mark sausages and hot dogs and an An­tonelli’s cheese plate to small-batch pop­corn, sand­wiches, nos­tal­gic candy, and sea­sonal fresh fruit with a honey crème fraiche. The bar of­fers Texas beer, select wines, and sig­na­ture cock­tails, and a full espresso bar fea­tures Stump­town Cof­fee.

In­spired by the non­profit Film Fo­rum in New York, the AFS Cin­ema of­fers a full slate of di­verse pro­gram­ming-ev­ery­thing from new re­leases that oth­er­wise wouldn’t have a home in Austin to restora­tions, reper­tory se­ries, and doc­u­men­taries. On the bill this sum­mer, the Es­sen­tial Cin­ema se­ries will fo­cus on “Com­edy, Ital­ian Style,” and new monthly se­ries will in­clude “Cin­ema of Re­sis­tance,” fea­tur­ing films about so­cial move­ments paired with dis­cus­sions, and “Sun­day School,” aimed at in­tro­duc­ing great cin­e­matic works to au­di­ences of all ages.

In a city home to ma­jor film fes­ti­vals (SXSW, the Austin Film Fes­ti­val, and Fan­tas­tic

Fest) and the Alamo

Draft­house and Vi­o­let Crown the­ater chains, the AFS Cin­ema seems like a nat­u­ral. Says Lin­klater: “Art cin­e­mas are go­ing away, but we’re con­fi­dent in our com­mu­nity that this will work.” 6406 N. In­ter­state, Suite 3100; 512-322-0145; austin­film.org

A ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of film-fo­cused mer­chan­dise on sale at the cin­ema in­cludes books and lim­ited edi­tion T-shirts as well as AFS-branded totes and pint glasses.

As­sis­tant man­ager Nate Le­land (ƟƫƨƦ ƥƞƟƭ), chef Peter Klein, and Gen­eral Man­ager David Mon­a­han at the AFS Cin­ema’s new bar. Craft beers, sig­na­ture cock­tails, and select wines ac­com­pany Klein’s menu of el­e­vated cin­ema con­ces­sions.

A 35mm changeover pro­jec­tion sys­tem al­lows the Austin Film So­ci­ety to ex­hibit archival film prints from around the world. The AFS Cin­ema also fea­tures up­dated dig­i­tal pro­jec­tion, in 2K and 4K.

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