Film Festival Returns, Celebrates Hollywood Classics
Classic films are making a comeback at Fort Lauderdale's Classic Gateway Theatre.
The landmark theatre, which opened in 1951, will host the Second Annual Classic Film Festival beginning next week and running through September, featuring 16 of the most popular and critically acclaimed motion pictures of all time.
Classic films are a passion for Arthur Friedman, operating partner of the Classic Gateway and a producer of "Beyond the Sea, The Bobby Darin Story," starring Kevin Spacey, and "The Price of Glory," starring Jimmy Smits.
Friedman grew up loving the movies and eventually went into the film industry, first as the owner of the legendary Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., and later as a producer.
"Through the years, watching thousands of movies, I have learned that the movie theatre experience cannot be duplicated on television, video or any other new technology," Friedman explained. "There's something about being in a theatre with an audience, watching a great movie, that is unique and spellbinding."
He added, "Having an emotional experience such as laughing or crying, being thrilled or even scared, or for that matter simply enjoying a moment together with family, friends, neighbors and the rest of the audience, creates memories that last forever."
Since purchasing the Fort Lauderdale movie theater over two years ago, he's been committed to showcasing the vintage films that were popular in the Gateway's heyday.
He feels the industry has relied too much over the past 20 years on computer-generated special effects and big-ticket stars, rather than the core storytelling that made so many classic films great.
The Gateway has long been popular with local audiences, screening art house, LGBT and indie films, and Friedman thought it would be the perfect venue for a Classic Film Festival last summer. Audiences responded, packing the theater and raising funds to benefit the Sun Sentinel Children's Fund.
Instead of a thematic festival featuring musicals, comedy or a particular film genre, Friedman and his staff have again focused on 16 of his favorite classics, including three epic films by director David Lean, "Bridge on the River Kwai," "Dr. Zhivago" and "Lawrence of Arabia," and two beloved Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart films, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life." Audiences can also catch Dustin Hoffman's breakthrough film, "The Graduate," as well as "Tootsie," directed by Sidney Pollack.
Rounding out the lineup are two memorable love stories, "An Affair to Remember," starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, and "The Way We Were," with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford; a pair of comedies, Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" and Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove," starring Peter Sellars; an iconic thriller, "The Maltese Falcon"; a vintage Woody Allen film, "Manhattan"; and Fred Astaire tripping the light fantastic with Cyd Charise in "The Band Wagon." Last, but certainly not least, is "On the Waterfront," directed by Elia Kazan and starring perhaps the greatest movie actor of all time, Marlon Brando.
"It really is a throwback," he said of the theater, which has undergone extensive restoration and was renamed the Classic Gateway, and the festival will again give audiences the rare opportunity to see the films in the setting they were intended.
2nd Annual Classic Film Festival, Aug. 30 - Sept. 26. Show times vary. Classic Gateway Theatre, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets $8-10, $7 all seats on Tuesdays. For information and complete schedule, go to ClassicGateway.com