Movie House of Worship: New York City’s 92YTribeca

By  · Published on March 24th, 2013

“Movie Houses of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week, we highlight an NYC favorite that is sadly being shut down. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.


Location: 200 Hudson St., New York, NY 10013

Opened: October 2008, as part of a new performance space and satellite location for the 92nd Street Y

No. of screens: 1

Current first-run titles: There are no extended runs of new films, but there are many one-off premieres of new indies, as well as preview screenings.

Repertory programming: Unlike a lot of the repertory programming in the NYC metro area, the selections of film programmer Cristina Cacioppo are aimed at the nostalgia of those of us in our twenties and thirties. So there are a lot of gems from the ’80s and ’90s that normally don’t get the acclaim they are owed. Back in the day, for instance, she programmed a Patrick Swayze series, The Swayze Days of Summer, highlighting the Swayze’s gift to cinema. More recently, she celebrated the 10th Anniversary of a little film called Pootie Tang and had national treasure Steve Guttenberg in attendance for a double feature of Short Circuit and Police Academy (as part of the series Basic Cable Classics). These are only a few examples of the wide breadth of repertory programming that is screened at 92YTribeca… Film critics Nicholas Rapold and Nick Pinkerton also guest program a great series called Overdue, which highlights the work of a filmmaker or actor that perhaps has not gotten their rightful moment in the sun. This month, they are screening a series of films by underrated director Curtis Harrington, including The Killing Kind, Games, and Night Tide.

Labyrinth Sing-A-Long

Special Events: There are various monthly series, like the film clip/live performance pastiches, Kevin Geeks Out and Meet the Lady. Also, there is a recurring Sing-A-Long series that has brought some overdue attention to the brilliant works of musical cinema, like Grease 2 and Teen Witch, including the extravaganza that is the Labyrinth Sing-A-Long. Cacioppo also programmed something of an offshoot to the Sing-A-Long series, a Cry-A-Long series that even garnered attention from the New York Times and featured the weepy titles Beaches, Steel Magnolias and, my personal favorite, Untamed Heart. There are also yearly events, like Chinese and a Movie every Christmas DaY, and an Oscar viewing party.

Why I worship here: I was Cacioppo’s intern for six months after I finished grad school and couldn’t find a job – and it was a pretty great six months. I learned from the inside about the hard work and intense creativity that she pours into the programming, and now as a patron I have an even greater respect for what she does and the films and programs that she brings forth. Cacioppo knows movies more than perhaps anyone else I know, and her unique vision radiates from everything that screens. Her programming is completely unpretentious, which honestly cannot be said about any other programming in NYC, and truly reflects her personal taste in film. Thankfully, her personal taste is pretty damn great. And unless otherwise noted, Cacioppo also makes a point of screening everything in 35mm. Even Cool as Ice. Word to your mother. Also, in addition to the programming being amazing, going to 92YTribeca just feels like getting a warm hug – the entire staff is perhaps the coolest, most genuine group of people ever assembled. So if I am having a rough day and I go to see a movie there, it almost feels like coming home.

Why you should worship here: It was announced last week that 92YTribeca will be closing sometime this summer, which is absolutely heartbreaking news. It’s still unclear as to what capacity the downtown film program will crossover to the uptown location, so you should take advantage of 92YTribeca while you still can. But more on that later.

Here’s what Tribeca Film Digital Content Coordinator Karen Kemmerle (my most frequent movie date) had to say via email about why 92YTribeca’s film program should be worshipped: “The collective heart of the New York film community broke last week when it was announced that 92YTribeca would be closing its doors in June. One of the few havens left in the city for film geeks like myself, 92YTribeca has been a place where we can indulge in the guiltiest of film pleasures without worrying about what others might think. While patrons of Film Forum or Film Society might poo-poo the love of such flawed (but amazing) films as Demolition Man, Face/Off or Untamed Heart, the crowd at 92YTribeca exalts them. I will never forget the many, many hours that I spent at 92YTribeca with Cristina and the venue’s stellar staff. Nothing, not even the impending arrival of the Alamo Drafthouse, will be able to fill the void.”

Recent screening of note: I have an unabashed love for Cher, so needless to say, I was thrilled that 92YTribeca recently screened Mermaids, as part of the femme-centric series 2 Good 2 Be Forgotten, co-presented by the femme-centric film podcast Bonnie & Maude and xojane’s. Who ever knew that Bob Hoskins could be so sexy and loving? Am I right, or am I right?

Devotion to the concessions: 92YTribeca has a full café and a full bar – and you can take whatever food or alcoholic beverages into the theater with you (though there are an ample amount of tables so you can just get to the movie early and eat first if you choose). The selections are all kosher, since 92YTribeca is an offshoot of the Jewish organization 92Y, and run the gamut from a salmon hijiki salad, to personal pizzas, to various pasta meals…

…though in my educated opinion, the two best things to get there are the matzo ball soup (which is a rare occurrence), or if you’re in the mood for something sweet, their chocolate pudding is kind of the best thing ever. It even has a giant blob of fresh whipped cream and shaved chocolate on top. Eating chocolate pudding while watching a Cher movie could have possibly been sensory overload for me – it’s almost a good thing I was running late to Mermaids and therefore did not have time to get pudding, otherwise I might have had to be hospitalized from overindulgence. For not-so-guilty pleasure screenings like Cool As Ice, however, double-fisting their cheap PBRs might be the best bet.

Last word: Obviously, since I do have a personal connection to 92YTribeca, I am extremely upset about the fact that it is closing, given the many wonderful memories that I have there. Not just working with Cristina Cacioppo but also with the entire staff, who are likewise as dedicated to their respective duties there. I will always treasure the moment when my three friends and I were encouraged to heckle Cool As Ice… When I went to a screening of Don’t Ask Alice with Amy Sedaris in attendance and she signed my copy of her book “I Like You” with, “Caitlin – Whore! Amy Sedaris”… When I succeeded in programming a sing-a-long screening of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and spent four hours hand-making the sing-a-long titles… The list goes on and on.

Though speaking purely from a cinephile’s point of view, it is truly a shame that an institution that brings forth such great programming is going to vanish from NYC’s landscape. Yes, NYC is filled with repertory theaters, like Film Forum and BAM. Yet, while the programming at these places is good, it is somewhat lacking in the intimacy you feel when seeing a movie at 92YTribeca. It’s hard to describe, but when Cacioppo comes out and introduces almost every movie, it goes to show that, yes, an actual person brought this to us. Her programming is fresh and young and offers a unique perspective in a sea of boring director retrospectives and obvious-seeming midnight movies at other theaters. Knowing that this institution is going to close leaves both a personal void as well as a void in the NYC film scene. 92YTribeca really doesn’t have an equivalent, and it ideally shouldn’t need one.

Once again, if you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.