Miami Beach Cinematheque Director Dana Keith on 20 Years of Movies in Miami and the Upcoming "Adult Film" Tour
Miami Beach Cinematheque director Dana Keith finds it difficult to make time for anything else but cinema. That's particularly true this week; his art house is in the middle of hosting screenings for the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, which included an appearance by James Franco whose film, Interior. Leather Bar, encores tonight at MBC. Meanwhile, the theater's regular programming continues, while Keith tries to book an extra month's worth of film in advance before he makes his annual trek to the Cannes Film Festival in the middle of May.
Photos courtesy Dana Keith MBC's first film: The Sunset Boulevard screening at the Marlin Hotel in 1993
Oh yeah, and the theater is also celebrating is 20th anniversary of presenting independent and art house films on Miami Beach.
The 20th anniversary of the organization Keith founded, the Miami Beach Film Society (MBFS), will be commemorated with an encore screening of the film that started it all: Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. The classic 1950 film noir about movie-making will screen May 8 on the wall of New World Symphony, kicking off a year-long celebration of 20 years of the innovative programming that, ten years ago, gave birth to the Miami Beach Cinematheque.
"We screened that film in 1993 as one of the first public presentations of MBFS on the side of the Marlin Hotel," Keith notes. "The Mayor at the time re-named Collins Avenue 'Sunset Boulevard' for one night, so Mayor Bower will have Washington Avenue re-named 'Sunset Boulevard' on May 8 in commemoration of the 20 years."
We interviewed Keith via email -- yes, he's that busy -- about the best moments in MBC history.
Miami New Times: What inspired you to start the Miami Beach Cinematheque?
Dana Kieth: After studying cinema and fine art in Santa Barbara I lived in Europe for ten years, where I spent much of my spare time in cinematheques, art cinemas, film museums, and at auctions or in collector's "attics" to obtain rare memorabilia since film and film history has always been my passion. When I moved here in 1992, I felt that Miami and South Beach in particular needed more of an ongoing film culture. It was "the land of film festivals" of all types (and still is), but I felt it needed an entity that promoted cinema as an art form, not geared towards a specific subject or niche group like most of the festivals were, but one that celebrates the art of film itself,. So I started the Miami Beach Film Society right away, which led to the opening of the first Miami Beach Cinematheque on Española Way on the organization's 10th anniversary in 2003.
Why do you spell "Cinematheque" like that?
It's the French way, but also the way that most of the cinematheques spell it in the US, like the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles. The world's most famous one is in Paris, Cinémathèque Française (founded by Henri Langlois and Georges Franju), where I hung out for years on a weekly basis, which is a huge inspiration. We don't bother with those original accents on the e's though. That would be a little too French.
The original MBC location was also chosen partly because of the French restaurant being next door, A La Folie, with the Jean Cocteau-inspired wall murals which are still there. That was too perfect, so "cinematheque" it became.