Bonus: Meet the new owners of Cinema Theater | Movie previews

Since opening its doors in 1914, the Cinema Theater (957 South Clinton Avenue) has grown into one of the oldest continuously operated theaters in the United States. With its distinctive pink art deco facade and warm, welcoming atmosphere, the cinema holds a beloved place in Rochester’s cinematic landscape.

This unique and welcoming atmosphere is one that Audrey Kramer and her husband Alex Chernavsky hope will continue as they settle into their new role as owners and operators of the theater, a role they began on January 5. .

“It’s a scary new adventure, and something we’ve never done before. But I guess our love of movies kind of won it,” Kramer said.

As longtime enthusiasts of both films and the cinema itself, this new venture offers the couple a chance to merge their personal passions.

Their relationship with the theater began decades ago, when Chernavsky regularly traveled from Marion to see a movie. “Tootsie” is the first movie he remembers seeing in theaters, and he immediately remembers falling in love with the establishment.

“I was like ‘wow, this place is not your typical corporate theater,’” he says. “It really impressed me, and I kept coming back.”

Kramer felt that connection too, and it has only grown over the years. The couple’s love for the theater is so overwhelming that they married there in 2009, hosting a reception where guests dressed up as their favorite movie characters, while the Looney Tunes classic “Rabbit of Seville “was shown on the big screen.

After working part-time behind the concession stand for a year and a half, a unique opportunity presented itself to Chernavsky when former manager John Trickey made the decision to put the theater up for sale. The couple quickly decided the opportunity was impossible to pass up. They will lease the theater space, while Trickey will retain ownership of the building, Chernavsky says.

In addition to being avid moviegoers, the couple are passionate about animals. They met while working together at the Lollypop Farm Humane Society in Greater Rochester, and Kramer has obtained and cared for the theater’s resident cats for the past several years. True to this long-standing tradition, the theater will welcome two new cats, Bo and Genny – both adopted from Lollypop – who will likely become familiar faces for moviegoers.

Much of the theater’s day-to-day operations will remain the same, although the couple plan to introduce vegan options on the menu, partnering with local bakeries where possible. Misfit Bakery is one of the first to board, providing cookies for the concession stand. Menu changes will even extend to choosing butter for the popcorn (Earth Balance, if you’re curious), although Kramer says no one has been able to tell the difference.

“It’s salty, it’s fatty, and that’s really what people want,” she laughs.

Although the menu will undergo some changes, the theater will continue to offer low-cost double films ($ 5 and $ 3 for students and seniors, in addition to the $ 3 weekend mornings). But Kramer and Chernavsky are convinced that maintaining the personal connection people expect from the movies is what is most important to them.

“It’s not like going to big movie theaters where you’re just another face,” Kramer says.

They say they would like to see the theater become home to more community events, as well as a place for local filmmakers to host their film premieres. Chernavsky adds: “More weddings would be nice too. We really want to do more weddings.”

The Cinema Theater will have its official opening on Friday, February 2, celebrating with 24-hour screenings of the comedy classic “Groundhog Day” at 3 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Free snacks and refreshments will be available, and area animal rescue groups will be on-site with cats available for adoption.

Upcoming attractions:

On Friday February 2 at 7 p.m. at the Visual Studies Workshop (31 Prince Street), artist Crystal Z. Campbell will present her work “Go-Rilla means war”, an experimental short featuring 35mm footage salvaged from a now demolished black civil rights theater in Brooklyn. $ 5. Free for members. Then on Saturday February 10 at 2 p.m., VSW will welcome
RCTV CEO Carvin Eison to present curated program of films and videos from the VSW collection exploring the limits of creative expression and experimentation. $ 5. Free for VSW and RCTV members. 442-8676;

Directed by local filmmaker Linda Moroney, the documentary “Turn the page,” will have its nationally televised premiere on WXXI on Monday, February 5 at 9 p.m. ET.

Ousmane Sembène’s feature film in 1966 “Black girl” confronts racism and the legacy of colonialism through the eyes of a young Senegalese woman brought to France to work as a domestic in a wealthy white family. The flagship film will screen as part of the Black Cinema series, presented by the Rochester Association of Black Journalists, at the Little Theater (240 East Avenue) on Friday, February 23 at 7:25 p.m. – 0400;

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