The Documentary-Only Theater Will Open in Chinatown New York on Sep 23rd

The Documentary-Only Theater Will Open in Chinatown New York on Sep 23rd

DCTV, one of the nation’s oldest and most honored media arts centers, will open its own nonprofit documentary cinema in New York Friday September 23, 2022. Years in the making and located in its beloved landmarked firehousebuilding in Chinatown, ‘Firehouse: DCTV’s Cinema for Documentary Film’ will feature first run films and curated programs. The theater will offer a dedicated space for documentaryfilms—making it one of a few of its kind in the world.

DCTV was co-founded by Academy Award-nominee and documentary Stalwart Jon Alpert (Life of Crime: 1984 – 2020) and Keiko Tsuno, who currently serve as the organization’s Co-Executive Directors and who together have received 16 Emmy Awards. Dara Messinger, the organization’s long-time Director of Programming will oversee the theater’s first-run and curated programming.

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“We used to show our documentaries on the corner of Canal Street from an oíd mail truck we bought for $5,” Alpert and Tsuno remember. “We had two black and white TV sets and a sound system that was like two tin cans and a piece of string. It took 50 years to build the DCTV Firehouse Cinema, this beautiful palace for documentary films. We want to thank everyone who helped us get here and can’t wait to show you around.”

“I’m thrilled by the opportunity to program for Firehouse, and to help build a new home for documentary exhibition,” said Dara Messinger. “My hope is for the theater to become a go-to destination to celebrate, engage with, and reflect upon all that nonfiction film has to offer.”

Founded in 1972, DCTV has not only produced countless award-winning documentaryproductions, but has also been host to community screenings, discussions, youth media, and continuing education programs. The organization’s early public screenings and first docs—often made by residents gathering together to collectively film local issues—helped bring crucial changes including ousting corrupt school boards, securing community control over their local hospital, and fighting for the rights of taxi drivers and sweatshop workers.

As an extension of this ethos, DCTV envisions its Firehouse Cinema as an opportunity to help shift a disempowering, commercial culture, where filmmakers and film lovers can come together in appreciation of, and with curiosity for, nonfiction film. Daily, audiences can expect an exciting slate of adventurous films, lively conversations, and a home to connect with others.

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By highlighting work from groundbreaking artists, it will share unique realities from international and hyperlocal perspectives. And by championing a myriad of documentary styles, from journalistic tradition to boundary-pushing form, it will help to ensure nonfiction’s lasting power.

The theater will feature a single screen with 67-seats, 4K projection, 7.1 surround sound, and interactive features to connect audiences worldwide, with concessions and an adjoining event space.

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Architectural flourishes remain from or recreate the original building: the wood in the lobby is repurposed from the original stable house inside the historic firehouse, and the concession stand is a donated historic ALF fire truck cab from the Town of Tazewell Fire Department, in Tazewell, Virginia. The wood slats that adorn the theater wall were donated by documentary filmmaker, Hart Perry.

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