"There’s a real joy in sitting with people and experiencing a film,” says Molly Ryan, director of Cornell Cinema. The chance to watch a movie the way its creators intended it to be seen—with other humans, on an oversized screen in a darkened room, uninterrupted—has long been a cornerstone of the Cinema’s mission.
Now, more than 50 years after its founding, the Hill’s beloved film organization continues to do just that—in its iconic Willard Straight Theatre and beyond.
“The Cinema is a distraction-free space to experience a work of art,” says Ryan, “and to be in community with others for experiences you can’t have from the comfort of your own couch.”
For generations of Cornellians, the Cinema’s nearly century-old theater on the Straight’s ground floor—originally a venue for live performance—has been a cherished spot for enjoying arthouse fare and Hollywood blockbusters alike.
Founded as a University film society in 1970, the Cinema was a go-to spot for students, faculty, staff, and locals to view classic and second-run films in an era before DVDs and streaming (and even before VHS and HBO).