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Juliet Goodfriend – President of Bryn Mawr Film Institute

By Admin | October 17, 2007

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute opened in March, 2005 in the Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. DailyInterview recently caught up with Juliet Goodfriend, who played a major role in bringing the project to fruition.

What is your role at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute?

I am the full-time CEO, though I do it without salary! It is a 24:7 job and a wonderful second career!

Do you have any formal training in film?

My formal training is limited to having audited film courses at Bryn Mawr College, and reading industry “rags” and observing and working with those who are more experienced. The film exhibition industry is entirely new to me.

What was the origin of the Bryn Mawr Film Institute?

I learned that the old Bryn Mawr Theater was going to be turned into a health club and I thought it would be a great loss to the colleges and the residents in the area.

The non-profit model had worked wonderfully at the County Theater in Doylestown. I decided to form a non-profit corporation and try to purchase the Bryn Mawr. It took 5 years of negotiating and raising money to achieve that goal.

Who chooses what films you screen?

We are assisted in this by having a contract with John Toner, of Renew Theaters, Inc. and he, in turn, works with a film “buyer”. I suggest films based on my exposure to them at festivals. Special films shown during the week are programmed by our staff, including Alice Bullitt, John, and me.

What are your two favorite films of all time?

I cannot answer for sure, but the usual great films were examined in film courses I took and have informed my viewing of all other films: Citizen Kane and M

How did Ben Kingsley become involved in the Bryn Mawr Film Institute?

He accepted our invitation to cut the ribbon on the theater the weekend we opened, March 12, 2005, because he was in town for a retrospective weekend film festival on his work.

What are you trying to achieve with the Bryn Mawr Film Institute?

To restore the premier cultural destination and economic driver for the Main Line, to show the best current and classic film, to provide a full curriculum of film education for students of all ages.

Do you track attendance at your movies and how much has it increased since you opened?

Yes, we track it and we are the largest, most successful art house in the Philadelphia suburbs and possibly the state!.

What are your goals for Bryn Mawr Film Institute for the next two years?

We must finish the restoration of the two story glass vaulted arcade and pay for it! Then plan on the theater renovations. We will also be expanding our education program.


Do you enjoy fundraising? Do you do it personally or do you hire a firm to do it for you? 

I am passionate about it and I do it personally.

Who has been your most influential individual donor?

We have received generous large gifts from individuals, but we are looking for more. It is troubling that most of our major gifts for our capital campaign have come from foundations.

I believe that individuals, especially those for whom this theater has been a major enhancement in their quality of life, can come forward with even more to help us finish this phase of the restoration.

What with DVD’s, movies on laptops and blackberries, why should someone put on their coat and go out on a snowy night to spend $9 to see a movie once?

Movies are a communal event—to create and to experience, as well. The final cut of a film is not made without exposing the preliminary ones to theaters full of viewers. It is remarkable the effect on one’s viewing of the collective life-experiences of fellow viewers: when they sigh, laugh, or cry.

A quiet theater, with excellent presentation techniques can enhance the viewing experience of any movie.That’s the environment for which they were created and therefore the theater can be the very best place to absorb them.

What has been your biggest setback/disappointment/unexpected hurdle in getting the Bryn Mawr Film Institute off the ground?

One constantly uncovers challenges in restoring an 80 year old building: plumbing is my biggest challenge at the moment.

Copyright 2007 DailyInterview.net

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