The Cable Car Cinema and Cafe has been screening great film since 1976. Today the Cable Car is a creative meeting place that provides independent film programming focused on the diverse cultural interests of the Rhode Island community.
The Cable Car Cinema and Cafe has been an independent and family owned business since it was first opened by Ray Bilodeau thirty-five years ago. It was converted from what used to be a truck garage and named after a classic cable car that was left behind but never repaired. From 1990-2007 - Eric Bilodeau, Ray's nephew, served as General Manager and with his strong emphasis on quality programming he cemented the cinema's reputation as a vital Providence cultural institution. Under his direction, the Cable Car was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the ten best cinemas in America.
In 2008, husband and wife team, Daniel Kamil and Emily Steffian bought the business from Eric's father Al Bilodeau and they set out to build upon its solid reputation. In 2009, the Cable Car was given the Marquee Award from Box Office Magazine and was designated as a National Marquee Theater for "its unique character, historic significance and continued commitment to excellence in film".
Staying true to its mission, the Cable Car Cinema and Cafe screens the most relevant films while collaborating with local organizations to attract a diverse and ever changing audience. Our partners include: Brown University, The Rhode Island School of Design, The Providence French Film Festival, The Providence Children's Film Festival, The Providence Children's Museum, The Rhode Island Chapter of the ACLU, Firstworks Providence and Marc Allen Fine Clothiers among many others. In April, we will be hosting the Found vs. Found Tour, a collaboration between Found Magazine and The Found Footage Film Festival.
The Cable Car frequently hosts Q & A's with filmmakers. Recently, we have held panel discussions on: Somewhere Between, The House I Live In, Funeral Kings, Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone, Paul Goodman Changed My Life and Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle, which have filled our space with lively debate. Musicians Bela Fleck and Melissa auf der Maur have graced our theater with film and live music And, in the fall of 2011, the Cable Car began screening opera and ballet from various theaters across Europe including the Bolshoi Ballet and La Scala Opera House.
Today the cinematic experience has a great deal of competition. Netflix, illegal downloading, and the increasing sophistication of home theaters threaten the old fashioned single screen art house. For this reason, Daniel and Emily embarked upon a major renovation in 2010 that included upgrades to the cinema and cafe. Local artists and designers were employed to create a unique atmosphere that will help keep and attract new customers.
A new screen and cinema processor were added as well as the replacement of the beloved couches (which apparently have had a second, third, and fourth life in underground music venues in nearby Olneyville). Murals were commissioned to liven up the cinema walls and depict the eclectic essence of our city and state.
We are currently in our final phase of renovation which includes the digital upgrade of our projection equipment.
On November 9th, 2011 20th Century Fox sent the infamous "letter" indicating that they were no longer in the film business and urged exhibitors to upgrade to a DCI compliant digital projection system or risk no longer being able to play their movies. Focus Features, The Weinstein Company and the other major studios have essentially followed suit. Ultimately, 35mm prints will be phased out or severely restricted and by the end of 2013 it will be increasingly more difficult for the Cable Car to obtain content without the proper equipment. For film lovers - the sad news is that 35mm (the one-hundred-year-old medium of celluloid) will essentially be the domain of museums and film archives. Using a platter system the Cable Car has already had difficulty obtaining repertory titles and now that prints will become more rare - it will impossible.
If interested in reading further about the digital transition we recommend these articles:
So, in order to continue to showcase high quality, independent film and special events for another thirty-seven years, WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please consider donating to the Cable Car Kickstarter Campaign. We are offering some great rewards for your generosity including private screenings at the theater, limited edition posters, t-shirts and Italian lessons from our very own Cinzia Cittadino.
(Special thanks to Jim Bernfield and Camilla Enders who did the voice over for our Kickstarter video, Justin Hawkins of Livingstone Studios, Monica Shinn, Caleb Siemon and Buck Hastings for their beautiful work on the interior of the Cable Car)
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges surrounding the digital transition are minimal as management has done extensive research on equipment manufacturers and integrators. If the campaign is successful we expect to implement the upgrades in August 2013 but management understands that qualified technicians are in high demand and that we cannot control their schedules. So, it is not a question of IF (it will happen) but WHEN (it will happen).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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