As a nonprofit organization, the work of Film at Lincoln Center would not be possible without the support, passion, and commitment of our incredible members and patrons. To show our appreciation, each month we will celebrate and showcase our unparalleled community of film lovers in a Member Spotlight, featured here on our website and in our Member News via email.

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For this month’s Member Spotlight, we are pleased to introduce Murtada Elfadl and Philip Utley. Murtada and Philip have been involved with Film at Lincoln Center as members for over six years. The first film they saw together here as a couple was The Lobster. Philip is a Creative Director for Estée Lauder and his favorite restaurant in NYC is Uncle Boons. Murtada is a Culture Writer and Critic.

Why is cinema so important to you?

Murtada Elfadl: Cinema is about escaping for a couple of hours to live in a different world. It’s broadening my mind. I love cinema because I love watching actors show how people behave.

Philip Utley: For me, it’s about expression. I want to see, hear, and feel what a director has to say. I want to experience their vision. Cinema is a way to step into someone else’s mind and that thrills me. It’s also important for me to experience movies in a dark theater, with other people. That collective experience—that focus—sharpens the experience for me.

Do you recall the first movie you ever saw in a movie theater? If so, can you tell us what it was and your experience seeing it?  

ME: I grew up in Sudan where there were no cinema houses, however I remember visiting London in the 90s and seeing Will Smith larger than life in posters for Men in Black in Leicester Square, someone who has my thick lips, someone who didn’t look like any of the actors I saw in whatever Hollywood movies made it to video in Sudan. Just the poster was a profound experience.

PU: The first movie I recall ever seeing in a theater is John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981). I saw it with my family in a drive-in movie theater in California. I don’t think my parents realized how graphic it would be, but maybe that’s why I remember it so vividly!

What is your fondest memory at FLC?  

PU: My fondest memory at FLC was a couple years ago at NYFF. My husband is a huge fan of Cate Blanchett (huge is probably not a big enough word, he hosts the weekly Cate Blanchett podcast, Sundays with Cate) and Carol was screening. Cate would be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening—this was his chance to ask Cate a question. directly. He prepared his question in advance, eagerly waiting for his time to chat with the Legend. When the screening ended and the Q&A started, Murtada thrust up his hand when asked if there were any questions. Perhaps a little flustered and nervous, in the last second, he eschewed his very thoughtful, composed question for a more impassioned inquest, “How is it that you are so perfect?” The audience giggled with delight and Cate demurred and thanked Murtada with a delightful smile and gesture. I loved seeing my husband so happy, so full of glee to be in the presence of his hero. It was a lovely evening.

Why did you become a member or patron of the organization?  

It’s very important to support the arts. We want to ensure young artists are able to execute their dreams—to put their dreams into action. Especially if that person doesn’t have a mainstream vision, or wants to work in ways that challenge norms. Of course, it’s also important that the work be seen. FLC provides a crucial platform, we’re honored to provide support in any way we can.

What are your top three (or more!) favorite films? Did you see any of them here at FLC or NYFF?

PU: It’s hard to list a definitive top 3. I love the films of David Lynch, especially Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, and Twin Peaks. Rosemary’s Baby is a film I can rewatch endlessly. Then there’s Barry Lyndon—mind bogglingly brilliant, odd, and beautiful.

ME: Carol definitely (see above), which I saw first at NYFF. In the Mood for Love. Love Douglas Sirk and the retrospective at FLC a few years ago was a highlight of my movie going in NYC.

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