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Time to Take in a Movie

After a year since the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down, movies are coming back to Westchester as local film theaters reopen and announce their opening dates this May.

The Picture House Regional Film Center (TPH) in Pelham is one of these local theater venues that has reopened at 25% capacity, with a maximum of 50 people in its Main Hall and six people in its screening room, per New York State guidelines. TPH, which celebrates its centennial this year, began hosting in-person screenings in addition to the virtual screenings and education programs already in place. 

“For one-hundred years, The Picture House has been a place where people collectively enjoy the magic of the movies,” says Amy Cole, Founder and President of AOK Communications, speaking on behalf of TPH. “As we reopen, we are taking every safety precaution and measure seriously.”

To ensure the safety of audiences and staff, TPH has established cleaning protocols, such as disinfecting theater seats between each screening and sanitizing bathrooms and concession surfaces. 

This May, TPH will celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with online film study classes that explore Asian American films. Upcoming programs at TPH will also include week-long in-person summer camps for aspiring young filmmakers this August. During this camp program, TPH’s teaching artists will help students to hone their storytelling skills and practice the art and science of filmmaking. 

The curtain rises at Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC) with limited capacity in-person screenings this May*. For its opening week, JBFC will screen the Academy Award-winning film Nomadland, as well as Limbo, The Human Voice and more. On May 7, the Center will also show the documentary film The Truffle Hunters and acclaimed drama Minari, also an awards contender. Only three ground floor theaters at JBFC will be open, with two show-times per day, per theater in addition to its other safety measures. 

Margo Amgott, Interim Executive Director at JBFC, says the Center and staff are thrilled to be reopening. Amgott states that the required closure has been difficult not only for the theater-going public, but for the whole town of Pleasantville.  She explains, “We are a bit of an economic engine for the town, and we love shining a light on that corner of Pleasantville that boosts business for local restaurants, bookstores and so on.”

Films will also be coming to the big screen at Bedford Playhouse (BP) on May 28, the Friday before Memorial Day. BP announced that the theater will be reopening at 33% capacity and will be following federal, state and local safety guidance, as well as those set by the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO). The Playhouse will instill health and safety measures, including a mandatory face covering policy, social distancing, capacity limits and increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures. 

“We are incredibly grateful for the support our community has shown over the last very difficult year and we look forward to welcoming guests back home to the Playhouse,” said Michael Hoagland, Executive Director at BP. 

He adds: “The Playhouse will continue to follow the recommendations and guidelines of health experts. With these strict measures in place, we are confident that [visiting] the Playhouse will be a safe and enjoyable movie-going experience for everyone.” 

In addition, The Playhouse Café will remain open for indoor and outdoor dining on weekends, and will host tastings each month. BP is developing a lineup of movie-themed special events in the Café as well.


*[UPDATE] Due to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19, Jacob Burns Film Center has made the decision to postpone its originally planned reopening. It will now reopen on May 12. This affects the events listed above. Please visit JBFC’s website for updated info. 

A version of this article first appeared in the May issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.