Remember My Name

Say goodbye to Berkeley's beloved Fine Arts Cinema, but not farewell

Remember My Name Since reopening four years ago under the stewardship of Keith Arnold, Josephine Scherer, and Emily Charles, the Fine Arts Cinema in Berkeley has established itself as a Bay Area institution. With a calendar comprised of thematic double bills (Godard/Hartley pairings are a trademark), community film festivals, and documentary premieres, the theater has found a formula for keeping repertory alive. Now the end is near -- to be followed by a most ambitious beginning.

The Fine Arts Cinema will close at the end of June, when owner and colorful East Bay developer Patrick Kennedy of Panoramic Interests plans to raze the current building and construct a new one. The Fine Arts Building, slated to open in 2004, will contain 100 housing units along with the Fine Arts Cinema, a 300-seat theater with upgraded chairs and sound and an elegant loge. "Kennedy's focus is a strong combination of housing and cultural use," Arnold reports. "I'm contributing capital to insure that a theater that meets my specifications and those of our audience is part of that building." Arnold has also formed a nonprofit organization dubbed the Cinema Preservation Society to develop a 100-seat storefront space on the site for screenings, installations, and exhibitions.

Charles is off to establish a restaurant in Japan, but Scherer will continue as the Fine Arts' technical director and projection maven. Arnold considered converting an unused space into a temporary theater during the hiatus, but instead will present Fine Arts-style programs at other local film houses. "It interests me to work more closely with my exhibition colleagues around the bay," Arnold explains, "and it gives me a chance to drive my audience to their venues." Look for the first "Fine Arts on the Road" show this summer, before Arnold heads to Amsterdam in September for a three-month programming gig at the Kriterion.


"Meet the Filmmakers! Bay Area Documentary Film," an eight-week class taught by Michael Fox at UC Extension in S.F., begins Tuesday, Feb. 12

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