Flicks - Back to School

Georgia State University’s movie theater, cinéfest, is back in business starting in mid-July. The student-run cinema, which closed for renovations in May 2002, returns with a new look, a new box office and a new approach to programming.

Since its debut in 1992, cinéfest distinguished itself by premiering many art-house and foreign films that would have otherwise never screened in Atlanta. That’s what compelled GSU student and cinéfest publicity manager Briana Hunter to trek there from Gwinnett County when she was still in high school. “Where else was I going to see Happy Together and Fallen Angels on a screen bigger than my television?” she asks.

But over the years, cinéfest’s programming had become a source of tension between university officials and the students who ran it. The theater was criticized for programming films that were too far removed from the interests of GSU students, so new general manager Tak Maksuda plans to book films closer to the mainstream. “They just want us to be more responsive to the student body, which we want to do. But we also want to broaden their horizons for the medium of film,” says Maksuda.

He also plans to screen more student films. “Many filmmakers have no outlet for their work, and we’d like to fill a void for them,” he says.?Maksuda says the theater will continue to introduce Atlantans to edgy films, but admits, “With new competition from theaters like Madstone, we’re less likely to have as many Atlanta premieres.”

The refurbished movie theater, located in GSU’s Student Center, returns with a larger, spiffier box office and concession area, as well as an increase in handicapped seating that reduces the number of seats from 150 to 142. Renovations also include new carpeting on the walls and ceiling, and improved soundproofing of the projector booth.

Renovation delays have postponed cinéfest’s re-opening from June 27 to mid-July, and while the summer schedule remains in flux, the selections look as “art house” as ever. The week of Aug. 1 pairs two films from French New Wave directors, Jean-Luc Godard’s 2001 effort In Praise of Loveand Francois Truffaut’s Bed and Board from 1970. The week of Aug. 15 features two Jewish-themed works, Trembling Before G-d and Promises.

Hunter says that cinéfest’s new suggestion box isn’t just for show, but will be used to influence programming. “We’d like at least two films a month to come from the suggestion box — as long as they’re not Hollywood movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious,” ?she says.