The already-iconic Metrograph hosted its birthday party featuring a who’s who of the New York film scene.
When the Metrograph opened its doors in March 2016, independent theaters had been closing for years. New York still has Film Forum, the IFC Center, and the Angelika, but Metrograph is the first new place for independent cinema in decades. Alexander Olch, the founder and president, curated every aspect of Metrograph, from the retail-style snack bar to the elegant typeface. The look, inviting theater space, and unique programming make going to see a movie at Metrograph a charming experience.
Olch and Artistic and Programming Director Jake Perlin hosted the party at Metrograph, which also celebrated the launch of Metrograph Pictures, a new venture seeking to bring independent cinema and restored classics to a nationwide audience. The night ended with a stunning Chinese dragon dance in the midst of the celebration.
Notable attendees included Jack Antonoff, Rachel Antonoff, Ari Aster, Kentucker Audley, Amy Berg, Eddie Borgo, Peter Brant Jr., Harry Brant, Alton Brown, Arturo Castro, Rebecca Dayan, Benjamin Dickinson, Sante D’Orazio, Griffin Dunne, Anh Duong, Voula Duval, Heidi Ewing, Shiloh Fernandez, John Gallagher Jr., Dominik Garcia Lorido, Hailey Gates, Tavi Gevinson, Rachel Grady, Bob Gruen, Leslye Headland, Amy Heckerling, Helena Howard, Ty Hunter, Isabelle Huppert, Michael Imperioli, Louisa Krause, Makenzie Leigh, Hamilton Leithauser, Tali Lennox, Margarita Levieva, John Magaro, Cristin Milioti, Rebecca Miller, Mia Moretti, Jake Paltrow, Maulik Pancholy, Keith Poulson, TK Quann, Marky Ramone, Rel Schulman, Anna Sui, Emily Tarver, Justin Theroux, John Turturro, Samantha Urbani, Michael Weber, Elizabeth Wood & Gabriel Nussbaum, Arden Wohl, Dustin Yellin, Darren Aronofsky, Sienna Miller, and Baz Luhrmann. The evening’s hosts included Maggie Betts, Sara Driver, Debra Granik, Kenneth Lonergan, Oren Moverman, Dee Rees, Josh Safdie, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, Cindy Sherman, Patti Smith, Whit Stillman, and Trudie Styler.
We spoke with Alexander Olch on the red carpet just before the afterparty.
The Knockturnal: So this is the third anniversary of Metrograph. So how did it first come about?
Alexander Olch: That’s a long story. I guess Metrograph began as I was traveling around the country. I made a film called The Windmill Movie, which came out about ten years ago, and as I was traveling around the country, visiting theaters, it was the first time as a filmmaker that I really started to think about the rooms and the spaces that films play in. I was also working as a fashion designer, and at that point I had also designed a couple stores, and I felt comfortable in construction, and it was kind of a eureka moment in 2009, when I started thinking, “Well wait a second, I could maybe design a theater.” And like most things, it’s a lot easier said than done. So it took about seven years to pull that off, and happily, here we are.
The Knockturnal: And why do you think New York needs independent theaters?
Alexander Olch: I’m born and raised on this island, so in some ways I’ve never actually asked that question myself. I’ve just assumed it’s a necessity and vital nutrient for our well-being. I grew up on this island, born and raised, and fell in love with movies, going to theaters, the Plaza, the Beekman, the Ziegfeld, that are all gone. And the feeling of being inside those places, the magic that people feel, and I would argue the glamor that one felt in those places was something that made a very, very deep impression on me and I think informed everything that followed for me in terms of my love for cinema. And so my pursuit of Metrograph is, in many ways, a pursuit of finding that magic that I felt when I was a little kid.
The Knockturnal: And now you have Metrograph Pictures, so you’re bringing that magic to a wider audience.
Alexander Olch: Well, one thing we’ve seen is when a film opens at Metrograph, people seem to care about it. So it’s really exciting for us, to now explore that even more. Some of the films we now opened, are now proper Metrograph pictures, which will now open across the country. That really deepens our relationship with the film and content that we’re so excited about.
Photo Credit – Kristina Bumphry/StarPix