Cinema Arts Centre co-directors Charlotte Sky (co-founder of the cinema)...

Cinema Arts Centre co-directors Charlotte Sky (co-founder of the cinema) and her son, Dylan Skolnick, at the Huntington theater on Nov. 17. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend with a party focused on classic films — including a couple of rarely screened titles that played on its opening night.

“It’s a been a long road,” said co-director Charlotte Sky, who founded the cinema in 1973 with her late partner, Vic Skolnick, “and it’s great that we’re here with 50 years. It’s marvelous that we’ve been able to make it.”

The milestone anniversary will be celebrated at the cinema on Friday, Dec. 1. Patrons can choose one of three screenings: Francis Ford Coppola’s classic crime drama “The Godfather” (1972), Robert Altman’s allegorical satire “Nashville” (1975) or Robert Rossen’s underrated drama “Lilith” (1964), which will be accompanied by the little-seen 1963 short “That’s Me,” starring Alan Arkin (who also co-wrote). That feature-and-short combination replicates the cinema’s very first night of programming from a half-century ago.

Screenings begin at 7 p.m. or later, depending on the film, and will be followed by a party that includes food, drinks and live music from the Second Chance Jazz Band. Ticket holders will also receive a copy of the Cinema Arts Centre’s 50th Anniversary Keepsake Journal, which features historic information and images along with messages from the cinema community. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased through the cinema’s website,

What started out as a once-a-week gathering with a borrowed projector and one bedsheet for a screen has become one of Long Island’s best known cultural institutions. Previously known as the New Community Cinema Club, Cinema Arts Centre has championed numerous local filmmakers, from Hal Hartley (“The Unbelievable Truth”) to Ed Burns (“The Brothers McMullen”). It’s been a tour stop for such established directors as David Lynch and Altman. It’s also one of the country’s oldest and longest-running art-house theaters, just a few years younger than Manhattan’s iconic Film Forum, which was founded in 1970.

The anniversary event will serve as a fundraiser for the not-for-profit cinema, according to Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the theater and the son of its two founders. His favorite part about the family business: “People just pouring in, in a flood of humanity, and having a great time — and hearing them laugh and cry and be moved by these films,” he said. “It’s been quite a ride.”

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