Pioneering downtown film center DCTV is celebrating 40 years of making award-winning documentary films while teaching others how to do the same. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
Inside a room at Downtown Community Television's landmark home in Chinatown, the organization is planning to build the city's first movie theater dedicated solely to documentaries.
"We're in the space that is going to be our cinema. There are gonna be 73 seats here and an extraordinarily high quality digital project system," explains DCTV Co-Founder Jon Alpert.
Husband and wife Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno founded DCTV 40 years ago in the landmark firehouse building, hoping to change the world or at least their neighborhood. Along the way they've garnered hundreds of awards as have the filmmakers who sharpened their skills there.
"I think our existence has some meaning to the society and I hope this is going to continue even after we are gone," says DCTV Co-Founder Keiko Tsuno.
Jon says DCTV has always been his and Keiko's baby, but especially in the early years.
"The equipment was so heavy and so cumbersome we had to carry it around in a baby carriage. Everything weighed about 100 pounds," recalls Alpert.
Back then cameras were expensive and rents were cheap. Now it's the other way around but DCTV continues to offer inexpensive classes and equipment rental for students and pros.
Public and private funding for the new $3.5 million movie theater also means DCTV can help filmmakers in their quests for an Oscar in a new way. Showing at DCTV will help films qualify for Academy Award consideration.
"You have to have a run in a theater that advertises, that has a special high quality projector, charge admission and we'll do all those things," says Alpert.
It's not an Academy Award requirement -- more of a movie must -- but there will be popcorn.
The theater is scheduled to open in early 2014.