Patchogue's new art movie house

Patrons enjoy a screening of "Angels Crest" at Patrons enjoy a screening of "Angels Crest" at the Plaza Media Arts Center in Patchogue. (Feb. 11, 2012) Photo by Daniel Brennan Photo Credit: Photo by Daniel Brennan

advertisement | advertise on newsday

There's a new little place to see indie movies on Long Island -- The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center in Patchogue, where a nonprofit organization is now hosting screenings.

The goal is to introduce audiences to works not often seen in multiplexes, says the center's co-founder Catherine Oberg. And to do so in a small, cozy environment that's a lot like what patrons may remember of the town's now-shuttered Plaza and Rialto movie theaters.

"It's filling a huge need," says Oberg, of East Patchogue.

ABOUT THE CENTER

Plaza MAC, as many have taken to calling it, opened in October on the ground floor of Artspace -- Patchogue's affordable live-work building for artists. There's a small lobby decorated with black-and-white photos of movie theaters from the 1900s, and a makeshift box office where tickets are sold. Patrons can pick up free popcorn in the concession area, where chips, candy and drinks are sold for a buck or two.

Movies are screened in a cozy theater that can accommodate about 70 people -- seating is in padded folding chairs situated in tiers (cushioned movie theater chairs are due to arrive later this week). Films are projected onto a 9-by-16-foot screen.

"It's small, but every seat is great," says patron Joseph P. Graskemper, a 60-year-old dentist from Bellport. "It's a wonderful atmosphere."

It's quite the evolution from Plaza MAC's earliest days in late 2010 and early 2011, when the organization screened films two Monday nights a month in the loft space above the BrickHouse Brewery. A $5,000 grant from acclaimed filmmaker George Stoney and the new digs at Artspace paved the way for the center to upgrade to its own space.

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

Newsday Homes

Like the Island's other indie movie houses, Plaza MAC delivers films you can't see in mainstream theaters, nor easily find on DVD.

Recent screenings have ranged from "Mozart's Sister," a tale about the composer's older sibling -- to "Young Goethe in Love" about the life of the German writer known for popularizing the romantic movement.

"They're art. They're unique," says Campbell Dalglish, Oberg's husband and the center's other co-founder.

Perhaps most popular was "Late Bloomers," a romantic tale about a 60-year-old couple going through the beginnings and politics of old age. The film's star, Isabella Rossellini, attended the first five screenings to introduce the movie.

"That exemplifies the high quality films they are bringing in," says arts educator Nancy Duncan of East Patchogue, who saw the film there last month.

"We go to the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington a lot and here was a similar venue right in own backyard," says Tom Williams, 72, of Brookhaven, who delighted in the shorter drive.

COMING SOON

Programming includes monthly children's screenings -- next is "The Secret of Kells" (2:30 p.m. March 17-18), which combines fantasy and Celtic mythology.

Screenwriting classes are planned for this fall and upcoming movies will include classics, documentaries and filmed live arts performances. Securing funding to offer animation, documentary film and editing classes for children and adults is also on the agenda, according to Oberg and Dalglish.

But for now, the focus is on keeping a fresh lineup of indie movies.

"It's so amazing what has happened," Oberg says of the journey. "People are so enthusiastic."

Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center

advertisement | advertise on newsday

20 Terry St., Patchogue

INFO 631-848-7288, plazamac.org

ADMISSION $10-$13 ($7-$10 students)

Upcoming screenings

"The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch"

7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26

The action-packed corporate thriller is like a European version of James Bond. French, English and Croatian languages with English subtitles.

"Chico & Rita"

7:30 p.m. March 8-10 and 2:30 p.m. March 11

The Academy Award-nominated animated feature is set in Cuba, 1948 is the story of a young piano player and sultry singer who chase their dreams (and each other) around the world.

"Pina"

@Newsday

7:30 p.m. March 22-24 and 2:30 March 25

The Academy Award-nominated documentary tributes choreographer Pina Bausch.

You also may be interested in: