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The IFC's New Waverly Opens

When the historic Waverly Theatre building reopened its doors as the IFC Center on June 9, not only Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village but Manhattan and the entire country could see and feel the cutting edge.

The Independent Film Channel (IFC) plans to relocate its popular cable program "At the Angelika" to the all-new movie house, which features two digital editing suites along with a restaurant/café and meeting area. Hosting the appropriately renamed "At the IFC" and other yet-to-be-announced programming from the channel and equipped for 35mm and high-definition digital video, the three theatres have the stated mission to "show independent films in a unique and comfortable environment that both filmmakers and audiences deserve." The IFC Center will further "guarantee that the city's filmmaking and artistic community will have a home base where they can work, socialize, and be supported."

"For ten years, IFC has helped broaden the audience of independent film and provide independent filmmakers with a strong voice," said Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC Entertainment, back in March. "By creating a venue to showcase these films, IFC will now have the opportunity to raise awareness of independent film to a different level."

"What could be better than running an art house in downtown New York?" asked John Vanco, vice president and general manager of the IFC Center. "We're really looking at the Film Forum and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas as role models. They're theatres that have developed identities and reputations with their constituents and followers in their neighborhoods. People trust [Lincoln Plaza operator] Dan Talbot [enough] to watch movies that play there which they wouldn't otherwise. It will be our challenge to build that same trust with a core audience in the Village and all over New York, so that they will ultimately have enough faith in us and give little films a chance [within] the context we provide."

Clearly, "this isn't just a movie theatre." Vanco envisions "participation from filmmakers, not just questions and answers but also events with other artists, writers, and musicians guest-curating and presenting programs. We want to create a place where film lovers and filmmakers can meet, and part of that is to have a postproduction space so that the IFC Center is actually also about making movies. We like the idea of physically centering it all in one place to create a very unique space."

Andreas Fuchs writes for Film Journal International.

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