Though the Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969, it would take 22 more years before the organization had its own venue for showing movies all year round. On December 3, 1991, when the Walter Reade Theater, occupying the space of a former school building on the Lincoln Center campus, finally opened, moviegoing in New York would never be the same.
The first films screened at the Walter Reade Theater included Pedro Almodóvar’s High Heels; Orson Welles’s 1952 Othello; Woody Allen’s Shadows and Fog; A Brief History of Time, Errol Morris’s portrait of Stephen Hawking; and the 1949 musical On the Town, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. The diversity of these initial films anticipated the programming philosophy that persists today: films new and old, foreign and Hollywood, provocative and purely enjoyable.
This December we’re thrilled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Walter Reade Theater, which remains one of the city’s premier cinema venues, a state-of-the-art facility for film and video projection, programmed by the cream of movie culture’s most discerning crop. Please join us for an evening of free screenings of essential films that speak to the mission of the theater and of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Introduction by Joanne Koch and Richard PeñaTwenty-five years ago, the Film Society celebrated the opening of the Walter Reade Theater with a screening of On the Town, a rollicking musical about three lookin'-for-a-good-time sailors (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin) on 24 hours’ leave in a Big Apple that has rarely looked so gorgeous and exciting.
Showcased in the Walter Reade Theater’s inaugural series, “Great Beginnings: First Films by Great Directors,” Shadows charts in intense close-up the existential crises of three African-American siblings in Manhattan during the late 1950s, with Charles Mingus riffs to jazz up their long nights of the soul.