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Gateway Film Center Wins Sundance Honor

Hope Madden Hope Madden Gateway Film Center Wins Sundance HonorPhoto by Walker Evans.
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How does it feel to receive accolades from one of the most important bodies in independent film?

“We were ecstatic,” says Chris Hamel.

The Sundance Art House Project – an offshoot of the famous Sundance Institute and its Art House Convergence – offers a recognition of independent cinemas around the country. According to their website, the cinemas chosen to receive this honor, “were found to meet high standards including: quality programming, deep involvement with their local communities, strong financial standing, and recognition from their peers and their communities.”

Among the 23 cinemas awarded the national honor is our own Gateway Film Center, and film center president Hamel is thrilled.

“The program is designed to reward high quality venues around the country,” he says. “It’s sort of like a Good Housekeeping seal for independent cinemas.”

Hamel says the Sundance Art House Project looks for quality in operations, in facility, and in service, but he believes it’s programming that may be the greatest emphasis.

“Venues like ours, which bring hundreds of movies a year to the community that wouldn’t play here otherwise, are the type of venues they seem to be honoring with the distinction,” he says.

“In 2014, we brought almost 500 films to the market that would probably not have played here otherwise,” he says. “In my mind, the number one thing that makes us so unique is that we are legitimately one of the top independent venues in America. If we’ve made a mistake, it’s that we really haven’t talked about that much.”

As pleased as Hamel is for the film center, he believes the award is even more important for Columbus as a whole.

“I think it’s bigger for the community than it is for the film center,” he says. “There are 23 theaters now that Sundance has recognized nationally. I think it’s less about the Gateway Film Center and more about what Columbus as a market is becoming for people who love film.”

Not that the film center doesn’t appreciate the accolade on its own.

“It helps put us on the map nationally,” he says. “And obviously, we’re really proud of it. It’s one more thing we can point to when we say that we really are the town hall for film lovers in the city. To receive national accolades from such an important organization is really great.”

For more information, visit www.gatewayfilmcenter.org.

Read more from Hope at MADDWOLF and listen to her weekly horror movie podcast, FRIGHT CLUB.

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