What is the Cinema Club?
The Cinema Club is the nation's premier sneak preview film society. On select Sunday mornings in eight different cities this winter/spring, Cinema Club members will preview and discuss the best new American independent and foreign films in distribution. Always a secret until the day of the screening, our movies are shown before their local commercial release, letting our members view and respond to them with true surprise and spontaneity.
After each screening, our distinguished moderators – local film experts, professors and critics – lead a forty-five minute discussion with club members directly in the theater. At many of our showings, our moderators are joined in discussion by fellow film scholars, esteemed film critics and occasionally filmmakers themselves.
Our distinguished group of programmers have been guiding film societies, academic programs and even popular film festivals for over a decade. We attend dozens of leading festivals around the globe, always keeping our eyes open for the next Cinema Club gem.
The Cinema Club was founded under the name “Key Sunday Cinema Club” in October 1992 at the Key Theatre in Georgetown by David and Seena Levy, who owned and operated specialty theaters in the Washington DC area for over 30 years. The organization expanded to the Kendall Square Cinemas in Boston in February 1998, to the Embarcadero Center Cinemas in San Francisco in September, and to the Garden Hills Cinemas in Atlanta in October of that year (the Boston chapter is currently held at the West Newton Cinemas, the San Francisco chapter at the Sundance Kabuki, and the Atlanta chapter at the Midtown Art Cinemas).
In October 2000, Arnold Gorlick of the Madison Art Cinemas in New Haven, CT, helped launch the Greater New Haven chapter. The Boca Raton chapter originated in January 2001 at the Regal Shadowood movie theater, later moved to the Mizner Park Cinemas, and now resides at the Deerfield Mall Cinemas. The St. Louis chapter opened in February 2004 at the Plaza Frontenac Cinemas and the newest chapter opened at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee in January 2007. Defunct chapters include Portland, OR, Providence, RI, San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, and Burlington, VT.
After David Levy sadly passed away in September 2004, son Benjamin Levy resumed ownership of the organization through May 2009. The club is currently under ownership by Washington DC film programmer and operations director for the Key Sunday Cinema Club since its founding, Andrew Mencher, under the simplified name “The Cinema Club.” Walt Irby is the organization's current operations director and Susie Mencher is its membership coordinator.
In the Press
- "Early Birds Get the Films" by Jeanne Cooper, The Washington Post (Archive), Jan 1 1993
- '"Sneak Previews" by Ellen L. Perlman, The Washington Post (Archive), Dec 12 1993
- "D.C.'s Dueling Cine Clubs" by Desson Howe, The Washington Post (Archive), Jul 8 1994
- "Last Picture Show; Sadness Marks the Final Curtain at the Key" by Desson Howe, The Washington Post (Archive), Dec 8 1997
- "Key Cinema Club" by Gerald Peary, The Boston Phoenix, Jan 1998
- "Filmgoers Who Like Being in the Dark" by Bob Graham, The San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 3 1998
- "The key? Critique club to spur debate on films", The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution (Archive), Oct 2 1998
- "Movie club Key Sunday to start a Portland chapter in February" by Kathy Brock, The Portland Business Journal, Feb 1 1999
- "Movie Club Slips a True Peek Back Into Sneak Previews", The Oregonian (Archive), Feb 11 1999
- "Cinematic Sundays: underway with the Key Cinema Club" by Heather Davis, Arts Editor, Mar 2000
- "Sunday Screenings" by Deborah Hornblow, The Hartford Courant, Sep 21 2000
- "Preview Series Offers Sneak Peek at Art Films" by E. Kyle Minor, The New York Times, Oct 8 2000
- "A New Film Club at Shadowood 16 Puts Independent Flicks Up For Discussion" by Margie Kacoha, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Archive), Jan 19 2001
- "Sunday club gathers in praise of movies", The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution (Archive), Sep 29 2001
- "Cinema Club" by Laura Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Archive), Nov 15 2002 "Top Secret!" by Niles Baranowski and Paul Friswold and Amy Helms and Byron Kerman, The Riverfront Times, Feb 11 2004
- "Key Sunday Cinema Club Opens Up Broad Discussion, NPR's Bob Mondello Says" by Joe Williams, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Archive), Mar 19 2004
- David Levy Obituary, The Washington Post, Sep 17 2004
- "Key Sunday Cinema Club Locks Into Milwaukee" by Heather Leszczewicz, On Milwaukee, Jan 17 2007
- "In the Director's Chair with Matthew Bernstein" by Jessica Moore, Arts at Emory, Mar 2007
- "Key Sunday Cinema Club offers sneak peeks" by Bobby Tanzilo, On Milwaukee, Sep 5 2007
- "Bernstein Recognized for Work with Cinema" by Arti Batta, Emory University Wheel, Apr 11 2008
- "Movie Club Concentrates on Art Movies" by Scott Jentsch, The Big Screen Cinema Guide, Jul 23 2008
- "Club is the key for art-house movie previews" by Duane Dedek, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Sep 5 2008
- "The Key Sunday Cinema Club" by Sam Whiting, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mar 22 2009
- "Emory film professor hosts cinema club" by David Lee Simmons, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sep 14 2009
- Peter Brunette Obituary, The Washington Post, Jun 19 2010
How to Join:Select your city from the drop-down menu above to join the club, renew your membership, or learn more.
Testimonials:“The discussions provide so much insight that you miss out on as an average film-goer.”
– Atlanta Member
“I love not knowing what movie I'm going to see when I walk in here.”
– San Francisco Member
“I appreciate the exposure to films that I might not ordinarily see on my own.”
– Milwaukee Member