Film-Makersı Cooperative new home

From: Adam Hyman (email suppressed)
Date: Thu May 28 2009 - 09:38:08 PDT

Today's NY Times:

Avant-Garde Film Group Gets New Home, Cheap

The Film-Makersı Cooperativeıs new home will include space designed to
protect its archives.

Published: May 27, 2009

After months of uncertainty, the Film-Makersı Cooperative, whose future was
threatened early this year when it received an order of eviction from a
city-owned building in TriBeCa, has found a new home, and on terms that are
likely to make it the envy of other arts organizations and tenants across
the city.

The group, which archives, distributes and restores experimental and
avant-garde movies, has signed a five-year lease with the real estate
developer Charles S. Cohen that calls for the organization to pay a symbolic
rent of $1 a year.

³Itıs amazing,² said Jonas Mekas, a filmmaker and one of the cooperativeıs
founders, ³and amazing that there are still people like Cohen in this

The new quarters, which the group hopes to occupy by Labor Day, are at 475
Park Avenue South, on the northeast corner of 32nd Street. The sixth-floor
site will offer nearly four times as much space as the co-opıs current
location at the Clocktower Building, where it is paying about $1 a square
foot for approximately 900 square feet.

³Itıs a beautiful and more accessible space,² said M. M. Serra, the film
groupıs executive director. ³Weıll have offices and archives, and our films,
some of which are one of a kind, will be in air-conditioning specifically
designed to protect them, which we donıt have where we are now.²

As part of the move, a 15-seat theater is also being built at the 32nd
Street location, ³for the use of scholars and others who want to do
research² into the approximately 5,000 films that the cooperative has in its
archives, in formats ranging from 8 millimeter to video, Mr. Mekas said.
Tentatively, it is to be named the Charles Theater, a double homage, to Mr.
Cohen and to the old Charles Theater in the East Village, one of the first
places in New York to show experimental films.

Mr. Cohen, the president and chief executive of Cohen Brothers Realty, is
known as a film aficionado. He is the author of a book of movie trivia, won
a Kodak Movie Award for a comedy short he wrote and directed, and was an
executive producer of ³Frozen River,² the feature-length film starring
Melissa Leo that was released last year and earned two Oscar nominations.

³I was in a position to help, and I thought that I should,² Mr. Cohen said.
³They are a wonderful group doing important work, and there is no other
place to go and see this kind of thing. They needed a storage space for
their archives, and this meets their needs.²

Founded in 1962, the Film-Makersı Cooperative has since the start of the
decade occupied space controlled by the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center,
another bulwark of the cityıs avant-garde artistic establishment. But late
last year, P.S. 1 decided to give up the site and turn it over to Alanna
Heiss, its founder and former executive director, so that she could use the
location as a base for her latest project, an Internet radio station called
Art International Radio.

Before that, the Film-Makersı Cooperative operated for many years out of an
office on Lexington Avenue at 31st Street, which it had to leave in 2000
because of redevelopment there. So returning to the same neighborhood on
such favorable terms ³in a way brings things full circle,² Mr. Mekas said.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.