Memorial Day weekend will bring a moment that the Sag Harbor Cinema and East End community has been waiting for for quite some time. After more than two years, on Saturday, May 25, at 8 p.m., the iconic Sag Harbor sign will once again illuminate Sag Harbor Cinema.
“Initially we were thinking we could wait until the Cinema opened to light the sign, but Memorial Day weekend felt like the perfect opportunity to celebrate not only the start of summer, but how far we have come on this journey,” Cinema Chair April Gornik reflected.
To celebrate the momentous occasion, County, Town, and Village officials will gather at the Cinema for a ceremony during which the sign will be reignited.
“The building façade will soon be finished, thanks to our great crew from ConRac Construction,” Gornik shared. “Thanks for the sign repair is due to our wonderful volunteer heroes: Twin Forks owner Chris Denon, metalworker John Battle, and neon artist Clayton Orehek, who have gone the distance to repair the sign for all of us for free.” After the 2016 fire, Chris Denon of Twin Forks Moving and Storage kindly took in the iconic Cinema emblem and ensured it was kept safe until it was needed again. And, unbeknownst to the Cinema, artisans John Battle and Franklin Paucar, of Battle Iron and Bronze, and neon sculptor Clayton Orehek, who had previously worked on the neon when the sign was replaced, donated their time and skills, working together to bring the sign to its former glory.
“It would be wrong to withhold the sign from all the people in this community who have been so generous in getting us this far!” Gornik said.
The Cinema hopes to re-open within the next six months, however an estimated $3 to 4 million is still needed for renovations for the Cinema to be fully functional. This funding will be allocated towards the new third floor, seats for all three theaters, film and sound equipment, the restoration of historic fixtures, café and concession equipment and supplies, computer equipment and salaries.
“We hope this re-inspires visitors and residents to help open the Sag Harbor Cinema Art Center this fall, free and clear of debt, fulfilling our promise to the community to bring the Cinema back,” Gornik shared.
In celebration of the sign’s return, many Main Street stores are expected to stay open late on the 25th. Cinema Board Treasurer Susan Mead added, “Part of saving the Sag Harbor Cinema has always been to help keep Main Street intact, so we’re looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion with Main Street merchants.”
As for summer programming, the Sag Harbor Cinema Art Center (SHCAC) has enlisted Animal House and An American Werewolf in London director John Landis to be its first guest curator for its new series, Really Funny.
“Comedy is the most unforgiving of genres. You either laugh or you don’t. Highbrow, lowbrow, witty words or just slapstick, if it makes you laugh then it’s successful. These are of some of the many motion pictures that make me laugh. And laughter is the best way to deal with so much of life,” Landis explained about his selection.
From June 9 to September 22, SHCAC will screen ten Landis picks at Pierson High School Auditorium (200 Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor) that explore a wide variety of film history, offering both lesser known gems and blockbuster hits.
“I had the pleasure to collaborate closely with John on a book I wrote about his work, and by curating retrospectives of his films in Europe. Besides being one of the great American directors of his generation, he is a true film historian,” Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan, head of programs at SHC, shared. “His passion for, and knowledge of film are contagious. Some of John’s comedies, such as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places and Coming to America are beloved classics of the genre. I am thrilled he accepted to put together this series for the Sag Harbor Cinema.”
Screenings will include William A. Seiter’s Sons of the Desert (1933) on June 9, Norman Z. McLeod’s It’s a Gift (1934) on June 23, Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937) on June 30, Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (1940) on July 7, Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1967) on July 21, Elaine May’s A New Leaf (1971) on August 4, John Landis’ Trading Places (1983) on August 18, Michael Hoffman’s Soapdish (1991) on September 8, Larry Charles’ Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) on September 15, and Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids (2011) on September 22.
The Really Funny screenings will start at 6 p.m. and admission is $10.
For more information, visit www.sagharborcinema.org.