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Saratoga Film Forum is seeking input on its future

Sunday, March 3, 2013
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Film forum future

The public is invited to discuss the future of the Saratoga Film Forum at 7 p.m. March 19. The meeting will be held at the Dee Sarno Theater at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway.

— Members of the Saratoga Film Forum are asking themselves if the new Bow Tie Cinemas coming to Saratoga Springs this summer will make their group obsolete.

Bow Tie has said it will play more independent films at the downtown Saratoga Springs location on Church Street and mainstream films at the Wilton Mall, where the company is renovating the eight-screen space vacated on Feb. 18 by Regal Cinemas.

The not-for-profit Saratoga Film Forum screens a variety of films, including critically acclaimed new releases, independent films, documentaries, foreign films and family flicks in the Dee Sarno Theater in the Saratoga Arts building at 320 Broadway.

The intimate theater provides things that a commercial theater doesn’t — inexpensive snacks ($2 for popcorn and $1 for everything else), $7 tickets and $5 for members and students, and applause at the end.

The forum also shows free classic movies at the Spring Street Gallery at 110 Spring St.

And the group has been adding more extras to the movie showings, bringing in a speaker to talk after a film or having live music beforehand.

Last weekend, for example, the forum showed the 2012 film “Hitchcock” in the Dee Sarno Theater and then screened Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller “Psycho” on Sunday night in the Spring Street Gallery.

The wide availability of movies online and through cable pay-per-view also have changed the need for a theater.

To figure out what to do next, the group will hold a moderated public forum to gather opinions.

“Everybody is part of the initiative,” said Film Forum President Amy Godine.

The discussion is especially poignant now with most film studios phasing out 35mm film by the end of this year in favor of all digital movies.

“We face a big fundraising issue with going digital, which we haven’t tackled yet,” Godine said.

The national average to make the upgrade is estimated at $70,000 per screen, according to an Associated Press story from last fall.

Godine sees the addition of Bow Tie as a good thing for Saratoga Springs, for movie lovers and for the 20-year-old Film Forum, which was created in 1993 after the city’s downtown theaters all closed by the late 1980s.

“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for us,” she said, adding it pushes the group to hone its mission.

“There are a whole bunch of kinds of films that Bow Tie’s not going to touch.”

But until the 11-screen theater’s expected July opening gets closer, no one knows for sure what the theater will show and won’t show, Godine said.

The Film Forum is membership-supported and also hosts an Oscar party every February for viewing the Academy Awards ceremony and celebrating film.

 
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