As a surprise for my nineteenth birthday, my best friend registered me for a non-credit course through NYU which basically consisted of attending weekly screenings on Saturday mornings, watching indie films, and listening to and participating in “discussions” led by film critic and professor William Wolf. The year before, my friend had given me a biography on Cary Grant, sparking an interest in film, and with this course, he lit the fire. The first time I stepped foot into the Walter Reade Theater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, it was January 2007. I settled down in a row near the back and stayed bundled in my coat the whole time; it was so cold. We watched Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, which was quite an introduction to the auteur. I was easily the youngest person in the room by a good 40 years, and it was interesting to see the reaction the older demographic had to this sensationalized WWII adventure. Upon exiting, I picked up a few intriguing cards advertising the Film Society’s upcoming programming. As I descended the staircase to West 65th Street, I didn’t realize I was leaving what would soon become my favorite cinema and second home in the city.
In the past 8 years, I’ve fallen deeply in love with the Film Society, its programming, its literature, and its staff. The Film Society is where I saw so many brilliant Q&A’s with so many brilliant filmmakers and actors, including the wonderful James McAvoy, Tom Stoppard, Joe Wright, and David Fincher. It’s where I shook Paul Rudd’s hand and told him I liked his suit. It’s where I sat when David Wain walked past me and patted my head. It’s where I’ve escaped many cruelties of reality, finding refuge post-Hurricane Sandy at a screening of Anna Karenina and solace in last year’s George Cukor retrospective. It’s the publisher of my favorite periodical, Film Comment, which is home to my favorite film writer, Kent Jones. I had my first film festival experience there at NYFF 2008’s “Film Criticism in Crisis” panel, and I had my most comprehensive, enriching, life-altering film experience at NYFF 2012’s Critics Academy, headed in part by Film Society’s fearless Deputy Director Eugene Hernandez. Most recently, I’ve been especially grateful to have had the privilege of seeing Mike Nichols at a Q&A at the Film Society in 2010 after a glorious screening of The Graduate.
Truthfully, nearly every screening I have attended at the Film Society is glorious. With its incredible programming, the organization attracts, engages, and retains the most delightful audiences I’ve ever experienced. The best audience members, the most ardent of film lovers, can be found at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. With your support, it can keep offering tremendous film-going experiences and continue to be my second New York home. My birthday is next week, and I’d be most honored if you would consider making a donation for me in any amount to support the Film Society for Giving Tuesday. So much of who I am has grown out of that little theater on West 65th, and I hope that the Film Society of Lincoln Center receives the support it needs to allow many others to be able to say the same in the years to come.