AFI Silver Theatre, Silver Springs, Md.
- Jan. 14, 2004
Facility helps usher visitors into
The American Film Institute's Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is
living up to its promise to reel visitors into downtown Silver Spring.
The Silver Theatre has been the "catalytic agent for a lot of other
change occurring here," said Peter Esker, chairman of the Silver
Spring Citizens Advisory Board, at a Monday night meeting held at the
theater, which he called the "stellar achievement of redevelopment of
The Silver Theatre, a 1938 art deco movie house designed by John
Eberson, closed in 1985 but underwent a $20 million rehabilitation as
part of Silver Spring's downtown redevelopment. Once a 1,100-seat
movie house, the building now features one historic theater and two
stadium-style theaters, as well as a café, office, meeting, reception
and exhibition space. It is owned by Montgomery County and operated
by the American Film Institute.
In the nine months since the theater reopened, about 100,000 guests
have entered the building to see a variety of films, said Ray Barry,
deputy director of the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. "We've
achieved much of what we wanted to."
Financially, he said, the theater is "hitting targets," based on
conservative goals set for the theater's first year. And although the
guest number is "about exactly what we expected, we'd like more. We'd
definitely like more," he said.
Since the theater opened, 6,000 people have also become members,
which was "wildly beyond any expectations," Barry said.
Based on anecdotal evidence, Barry said he believes the theater has a
regional draw, but plans to do a ZIP code survey this year to confirm
The theater staff had several goals it wanted to achieve, including
excellence in programming, educational initiatives and being a part
of the Silver Spring community, Barry said, adding that, so far,
those goals have been met.
The programs the theater has shown have been diverse, ranging from
classics to foreign films and current releases like "Lord of the
Rings," he said.
"We also launched Silverdocs, an international film festival, in
partnership with Discovery [Communications]," Barry said.
Silverdocs showed a variety of documentary films, including works by
local filmmakers, and drew about 25,000 people for its community day
that featured a skateboarding demo on Georgia Avenue by professional
skateboarder Tony Hawk, as well as other skaters from his Boom Boom
Silverdocs was so successful that AFI and Discovery plan to hold
another major film festival like it this June in hopes of drawing
more visitors from out of the area and possibly achieving an
international status, Barry said.
The theater also has had other modes of community outreach, including
several open houses when the facility opened. And a Latino film
program and a mid-Atlantic regional film showcase has spotlighted
local filmmakers, as well as other smaller festivals, Barry said.
"A friend of mine had a film festival here. It went off marvelously,"
said Korey Hartwich, a member of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory
The theater has also begun a number of educational initiatives, Barry
said. AFI has been working with Montgomery College's Takoma Park
campus to offer part of the college's introductory film course at the
theater, and has also launched an educational program that currently
targets ninth- and 10th-grade students, though it eventually may be
offered to the kindergarten through 12th-grade.
Within this program, youths can come to the theater and experience
the cinema firsthand, and teachers can get assistance in selecting
films for their classes, Barry said. The education program was
launched in November 2003.
The theater also has brought in several guest filmmakers--both
celebrities and undiscovered artists--to speak in front of an
audience about their works, Barry said, citing Clint Eastwood and Eli
Wallach as two of the more prominent filmmakers to visit Silver
"We're looking forward to redevelopment in the rest of the
community," Barry said.
- AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center Launches Educational
Screenings Program (ESP) for Montgomery County, MD Public Schools
Monday January 12, 7:08 pm ET
AFI Silver Enhances Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) Middle
and High School Curricula With Screenings, Speakers, Teacher Guidance
& Viewing Materials
SILVER SPRING, Md., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Film
Institute's AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center today announced
its first educational program for public school students, the 2004
Educational Screenings Program (ESP), developed as a resource for
Montgomery County Public Schools to enhance middle and high school
curricula for both students and teachers.
The newly created program is generously funded by the Homer and
Martha Gudelsky Family Foundation.
"We're thrilled to be able to offer AFI Silver's educational
capabilities -- its theaters, its programming and its staff -- to the
students of our own neighborhood," said Murray Horwitz, director of
the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. "This program enables us
to bring resources to students in the communities that have
contributed to the AFI Silver and to compliment the ongoing work with
Montgomery County teachers of AFI's National Screen Education Center."
AFI Silver's Educational Screenings Program is designed to empower
Montgomery County's public school teachers with new tools to inspire
students in an active, broad-scale academic engagement, exciting them
about what they're learning. Based on film and video screenings at
the AFI Silver Theatre, the Educational Screenings Program provides
the following services:
* State-of-the-art screening facilities in all three of AFI
Theatre and Cultural Center's theatres;
* Films and videos directly related to Montgomery County Public
middle and high school curricula;
* Assistance by an experienced AFI educator and AFI programmers
teachers' selection of appropriate films, and in pre-
* Providing speakers and teaching guides, including support
such as readings and worksheets;
* Student education in critical viewing skills.
AFI Silver's Educational Screenings Program will be administered by
AFI Silver Education Program Coordinator Matthew Boratenski,
coordinator for AFI's East Coast K-12 screen education program since
1996 and a thirty-year teaching veteran of the Montgomery County
Public School system.
Teachers can arrange a screening by contacting the program's
administrator on-line at silvereducation@... or mailing a
questionnaire to: AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, Educational
Screenings Program, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, MD 20910.
More About AFI
AFI is the preeminent organization dedicated to advancing and
preserving the art of film, television and other forms of the moving
image. AFI trains the next generation of filmmakers at its world-
renowned Conservatory, provides film preservation leadership and
explores new digital technologies in moviemaking. AFI's New Media
Ventures programs bring together the creative and digital
communities, as the department seeks to develop a literacy program
for the 21st century, helping young people learn to read and write
screens of all sizes-cinema, television, computer and the Internet.
With AFI ON SCREEN, the institute is the largest nonprofit exhibitor
in the US, with programs at the AFI Los Angeles International Film
Festival (AFI FEST); the AFI National Film Theater at the John F.
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; and the AFI
Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. A
49,000 square foot complex with three theatres -- one historic, two
new state-of-the-art stadium-style theatres -- the AFI Silver
exhibits film and video generally unavailable elsewhere in the
region. AFI's annual almanac for the 21st century, AFI AWARDS, honors
the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the
year. AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies, 100 Stars, 100 Laughs, 100
Thrills, 100 Passions and 100 Heroes & Villains have ignited
extraordinary public interest in classic American movies. During the
past 31 years, AFI's Life Achievement Award has become the highest
honor for a career in film. More information about AFI can be found
by visiting its Web site, located at www.AFI.com .
Advancing Learning for the Next Generation Through the Moving Image
For further information, please contact Joan Kirby of American Film