New York City to close all cinemas

BFI Flare and Silent Film Festival fall to virus

by Anne-Katrin Titze

The normally busy AMC Kips Bay 15 on Manhattan's Second Avenue is to close tonight at 8pm
The normally busy AMC Kips Bay 15 on Manhattan's Second Avenue is to close tonight at 8pm Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all cinemas in New York City will close at 8pm tonight (March 16).

His statement follows New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's executive order yesterday stating that nightclubs, movie theatres, small theatre houses, and concert venues must all close by Tuesday, March 17, at 9am.

The remaining French Institute Alliance Française (FI:AF) CinéSalon program Foreign Eyes Filming France has all been cancelled: Manoel de Oliveira’s I’m Going Home (Je rentre à la maison), Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Double Life of Véronique (La Double vie de Véronique), Hong Sang-soo’s Claire’s Camera (La Caméra de Claire), Costa-Gavras’s The Sleeping Car Murders (Compartiments tueurs), and Nadav Lapid’s Synonyms (Synonymes).

Mayor de Blasio said: “Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago. We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbours.

“This is not a decision I make lightly. These places are part of the heart and soul of our city. They are part of what it means to be a New Yorker. But our city is facing an unprecedented threat, and we must respond with a wartime mentality.”

At the moment, most movie chains remain open in the city and will be screening films throughout the day. Film at Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, IFC Center, Anthology Film Archives, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Film Forum, BAM Rose Cinemas, and Metrograph were among those who suspended film screenings before the executive order from the mayor.

Meanwhile, at the weekend, festivals continued to be postponed across the globe. Among those forced to move dates by the outbreak is the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival in Bo'ness, Scotland. Organisers say they intend to reschedule their 10th edition for October. In London, the BFI Flare LGBT+ film festival was cancelled.

In a statement, the BFI said: “We know this decision affects individuals in different ways and we respectfully ask people to please bear with us over the next days as we work through the impacts of cancellation and also look at ways of sharing some elements of BFI Flare digitally.”

Cannes Film Festival organisers denied media reports on Saturday that it was set to be axed from May.

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