Cine Al Fresco

Living Arts Trust, Inc d/b/a O Cinema

Funding Received: 2013
Miami, FL
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
June 1, 2013

O Cinema’s Cine Al Fresco; Film and Foliage in the Heart of Wynwood

Over the past two years, Wynwood’s O Cinema has become a haven for filmmakers, actors, writers, artists, musicians, and many otherwise underserved artistic types in Miami and the greater metropolitan area. Its open-minded and energetic approach to all things art have facilitated the publication of local films, student films, short films, live choreography and musical performances that the community may have otherwise missed, while its walls inside and out have provided gallery space for local artists on the rise. The reach and influence of the O, which was begun with the aid of a Knight Foundation grant, have taken on such a force that co-creators Vivian Marthell and Kareem Tabsch opened a second art house theater by the same name at the Miami Theater Center in the Miami Shores neighborhood, just a year after the Wynwood location opened its doors.

Beyond the standard indie film screenings, O Cinema also plays host to mixed media film events like those from The Indie Film Club Miami, a young collective of local film enthusiasts and makers whose gatherings often include live bands, food trucks, and the hurling of hundreds of stuffed toys at local creatives. The prices are reasonable, in accordance with the O’s core values, which include making tickets accessible to as many interested people as possible.

Marthell and Tabsch’s open-armed approach has worked, and very well. With the ever-growing interest in and attendance at the programming for the O’s original Wynwood location, the partners jumped at the opportunity to apply for an ArtPlace America grant that would allow them to accommodate more events simultaneously in their facility. They happily announced their receipt of the $100,000 grant in May, which they will apply toward major improvements to the venue.

The proposed redesign has been named Cine Al Fresco, because it would involve a makeover primarily of the theater’s exterior. The changes would result in a public green space that would become a venue for additional open-air screenings and a stage for musical and dance performances.

With the addition of a projector-ready screening wall outside the cinema, Marthell, who was a driving force behind the procurement of the grant, would like to offer outdoor movies to the community – both esoteric, off-beat cult films for the film-junkies who already frequent the theater, and family-friendly flicks for local residents who may not have previously felt inclined to come by. The films geared toward families would be offered admission-free, Marthell envisions, in an effort to include as many people as possible, and to expand the reach of the theater.

With the help of the $100,000 grant, Marthell seeks to convert what is now a cement “lawn” in front of the theater into a true green space, bringing life and beauty to the property and to Wynwood as a whole. In a further green initiative, the grant will help provide for the creation of a bike parking area around the back of the theater. This is not just to encourage bicycle usage – which is already in full swing among the O’s patrons – but also to make riding to and from the cinema more convenient for guests. Marthell also envisions the proposed green of the theater’s front plaza wrapping around to the back of the building, likely in the form of gravity-defying vertical gardens. In addition, seating areas will be installed on this currently underused plot of land behind the main theater.

The community is already getting stoked for the redesign. In May, Hans Morgenstern of the Miami New Times wrote an article describing the upcoming changes, as well as technological upgrades the theater hopes to undergo in the coming year. In addition, Marthell and Tabsch O have already met with architects, contractors, community leaders, marketing experts, and volunteer organizations to drum up support, enthusiasm, and buzz about Cine Al Fresco.

“It will be a collaboration to create, to breathe life into, and to enjoy,” says Marthell of her developing brainchild. “It’s incredibly exciting.”