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Kew Gardens Community Center caters to cinephiles

For cinephiles who prefer their films projected rather than on DVD but do not want to pay theater prices, the Kew Gardens Community Center offers one of the city’s least expensive moviegoing experiences.

The center, at 80−02 Kew Gardens Road, screens films twice a week year−round for a $1 donation and often incorporates cinematic themes with its myriad of other programs, including art, acting and language classes. The center is a program of the Queens Community House.

“Many of the people who come to the center are over the age of 60, but we also have a number of younger and newly retired people,” said Bari Goltzman, director of the center. “So, we try to appeal to all those groups. We try to show thematically and culturally important movies.”

Films at the center, which can accommodate up to 60 people, are projected on a pull−down movie screen and refreshments, including popcorn, coffee and tea, are served at the screenings, Goltzman said.

The center, which has been open for more than 10 years, has always screened films, but Goltzman said she has attempted to expand the program since she began working there more than a year ago. She said she recently has begun consulting the schedule of Manhattan’s Film Forum theater, which screens both repertory and art−house new release films, to draw inspiration for the center’s programming and aims to attract patrons of the Kew Gardens Cinemas, a popular theater on Lefferts Boulevard that screens current independent films.

“I want to get away from showing mainstream films,” Goltzman said. “I want the films to have a little edge. A lot of the people who come here are older, cultured adults.”

Goltzman said most of the center’s attendees hail from Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Fresh Meadows, Briarwood and Jamaica. She said she hopes to expand the audience to include all age groups, though the center’s afternoon screenings tend to limit who can attend the films.

“We like the idea of getting younger people in here,” she said. “Anyone can come to the film as long as they are not skipping school.”

The center often ties its screenings together with its other programs, such as showing French, Italian and Spanish films in coordination with the language classes offered at the site. Goltzman said the center recently screened “Young @ Heart,” which follows a group of senior citizens who sing in a rock ‘n’ roll choir, to tie in with the center’s own choir, as well as showed political films following the recent presidential election.

“We try to make things relevant and hit everybody’s interest,” Goltzman said. “For Election Day, we showed ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.’ In April, we might show films that are tax−related.”

The center’s Tuesday screenings begin at 11:15 a.m. and its Thursday films start at 12:15 p.m. The complete schedule is available at the center’s site at www.queenscommunityhouse.org.

January’s remaining screenings include the Jan. 15 showing of “Rails and Ties,” the directorial debut of Alison Eastwood (Clint’s daughter), which follows the story of a boy who moves into the home of a train conductor (Kevin Bacon) who couldn’t prevent his train from striking the car of the boy’s mother; a Jan. 22 screening of “My Mother’s Smile,” an Italian film about an atheist whose philosophy is tested when his opportunistic family attempts to coerce him to falsely testify to ensure his murdered mother’s sainthood; the Jan. 27 screening of “Emotional Arithmetic,” a film starring Susan Sarandon and Gabriel Byrne as members of a group of people who were released from a Nazi internment camp and reunite years later; and a Jan. 29 screening of “Tonight or Never,” a 1931 film starring Gloria Swanson as an aspiring opera singer.

February’s schedule includes paranoid thriller “Antitrust,” which stars Ryan Phillippe and Tim Robbins; Mike Nichols’ “Wit,” which stars Emma Thompson as a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer; “Just Desserts,” an Italian film about two people who enter a dessert−making contest; and the religious−themed “Conversations with God.”

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