Classic films are a passion for Arthur Friedman, owner of the Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale. Since purchasing the theater last year, he’s been committed to celebrating the vintage films that were popular in the Gateway’s heyday.
“Ever since I was a kid, I learned that the theatrical experience cannot be duplicated on television, video or any other new technology," Friedman explains. “There’s something about being in a theatre with an audience watching a great movie that is magical and cannot be replicated. Having an emotional experience—laughing or crying, being thrilled or just simply enjoying— together with family, friends, neighbors and the rest of the audience ... is a feeling beyond words.”
Friedman grew up loving the movies and eventually went into the film industry, first as the owner of the legendary Harvard Square Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., and later as a producer of movies himself.
He feels the industry has relied too much over the past 20 years on computer-generated special effects and big-ticket stars, rather than the core storytelling that made so many classic films great.
The Gateway Theatre has long been popular with local audiences, screening art house, LGBT and indie films, and Friedman thought it would be the perfect venue for a Classic Film Festival. Planning for the festival began in February and a portion of proceeds will benefit the Sun-Sentinel Children’s Fund.
Instead of a thematic festival featuring musicals or comedy, Friedman and his staff focused on 15 of his favorite classics, including: one of the most treasured films of all time, Gone with The Wind; Orson Welles' Citizen Kane; Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot; The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland; Roman Polanski’s Chinatown; Robert Wise’s West Side Story; Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest; George Steven’s Shane; Woody Allen’s Annie Hall; Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey; and the most popular Hollywood musical of all time, Singin’ in the Rain, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.
In addition to the classic film festival, Friedman has also begun restoring the glamour of the golden age of Hollywood to the retro movie theater. He’s installed a Wall of Fame at the entrance, as well as vintage movie posters and photographs.
“It really is a throwback,” he says of the theater, which has been renamed the Classic Gateway, and the festival will give audiences the rare opportunity to see the films in the setting they were intended.
For information and complete schedule, go to www.TheGatewayTheatre.com.
If you go to the 1st Annual Classic Film Festival
Aug. 31 – Sept. 27, Showtime vary.
Classic Gateway Theatre
1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Tickets $8-10, $6, all on Tuesdays
For information and complete schedule, go to TheGatewayTheatre.com