Rice Cinema reopens and welcomes viewers to Sewall Hall


Rachel Johnson / Thresher

By Rachel Johnson 11/21/21 11:35 PM

The Rice Cinema, or Rice Media Center, reopened in Sewall Hall 301 on October 1 after closing in June. Demolition of the media center began on June 28 to make way for the new Sarofim visual and dramatic arts building, which is expected to be completed between August 2023 and January 2024.

Scheduled film screenings can be viewed online at their website. Visitors can reserve a spot on their website or just introduce themselves. Most screenings are free, but Houston Cinema Arts Festival films require paid tickets with a 50% discount for Rice students and faculty. Film screenings will take place throughout the last week of the fall semester, with the final screening being “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on December 4th. Screenings will resume in January.

According to Rice Cinema History Page, the Rice Media Center was founded in 1970 by Dominique and John de Menil. Throughout the 50 years of the building, artists and filmmakers have frequently attended screenings of their own work to allow a dialogue between them and their audience. Andy Warhol, DA Pennebaker and Jean-Luc Godard are examples of artists who have visited cinema in the past. He is known for presenting a diverse range of films, especially international ones, animation and documentaries.

Charles Dove, director of undergraduate studies in film and photography, said the center was still being established after the long move.

“We really started to move in this summer and it’s taken us a long time,” Dove said. “The last event at the Media Center was in June, and then we started moving things here. We are not yet fully settled, but soon we will be.

Dove said the move to what he described as the old-fashioned Sewall Hall classroom brought the cinema closer to the students and daily campus activities.

“[Sewall Hall] it’s so much the front of the campus, there are so many people around. It freaks me out a bit, ”Dove said. “Like, there are so many students in the building. In the old days, if there were students in the building, you knew them. So now it’s like, ‘Oh, who is this?’ “

The relocation of cinema has relocated not only film screenings but also film department courses such as film history and aesthetics, science fiction film, and documentary production.

“The theater is both where all the classes are taught and it’s where we show the movies,” Dove said. “The idea is that the majors get to experience being in a movie theater, and some of them work for [Rice Cinema]. ”

Unlike the cinema’s old location, its new location at Sewall Hall is shared among many departments, according to Dove.

“There is a psychiatry class in this room in the morning. There’s a lady in applied math who’s teaching here right before my class, ”Dove said. “So it’s just very different from our old place. ”

Dove also said that moving the cinema to an area of ​​campus more frequented by students had an impact on attendance at screenings.

“One of the positive aspects of this [relocation] It’s because we had so many students who came to see the films, ”said Dove. “We showed ‘Dr. Strange Love “, and I think the majority of the people who were here were students, and that never happened when we were [located by entrance 8], so it’s nice.

Adrian Almy, a student employed at Rice Cinema, said the cinema is adjusting well to its new space and continues to host engaging community events.

“The rice cinema [is] continue to provide interesting programming for Rice students as well as the general population of Houston, such as their screening of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ or the ongoing Houston Cinema Arts Festival, ”said Almy, a Wiess junior Middle School. “Tickets are free and students who have never been to Rice Cinema before should take this opportunity to try it now. “

Looking ahead, Dove said he was excited about the increased visibility of subtitles in the future home theater.

“The new space [The Sarofim Visual and Dramatic Arts Building] I hope there will also be an outdoor screening facility, which will be really exciting, ”said Dove. “And I think it’s just going to be great because we can get all the new gear.”

The Rice Cinema is one of the only cinemas in Houston that can show a film in almost any form. However, due to space constraints in the temporary cinema, some equipment is not used, such as 35mm film according to Dove, but other formats such as 16mm film are still used for projections. Overall, Dove says the transition went well.

“There is a lot to look forward to and be optimistic about,” Dove said. “Since we just started we have been growing pains, but everything has gone well. Every screening was successful which is good to see.

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