Coral Gables Art Cinema Promises Foreign Flicks, Booze, Stadium Seating

Try to imagine a Nicaraguan Million Dollar Baby and you have La Yuma, a film about a woman in Managua who dreams of getting inside a boxing ring a la Hillary Swank. It's the first Nicaraguan feature film made in two decades, and it's exactly the kind of movie that would have Miami's huge Nica population flocking to the cinema.

That is, if any movie theater in the city actually showed the film. It screened one or twice at this year's Miami International Film Festival - until recently, one of our city's rare chances to see indie, international films. But Miami's finally getting independent movie theaters. We recently reported on the new O Cinema in Wynwood, but fear not South Miami, you're getting your due too. A new art house film theater, Coral Gables Art Cinema, is scheduled to open very soon. (Hey, Miami Beach, you've had your Cinematheque for years, and it's even getting an upgrade.)

La Yuma is just one of the foreign, independent films that the 144-seat Gables Art Cinema will run in the coming year. Although they're still working on their programming, cinema director Robert Rosenberg insists it won't be your standard art cinema fare. And long runs will ensure that you'll have ample chance to catch whatever is showing. "It's going to be a mix of the best indie, foreign, and retrospective screening, and it will be mostly movies that are premiering in Miami. We want films that have not been shown in Miami," Rosenberg says.

Unlike the grainy, low-quality film and rickety seating that define many an art house cinema, the digs at the Gables art cinema promise to be, well, Gables quality. Stadium-style seating and state-of-the-art film equipment separate the cinema from its art house brethren thanks to Steven Krams, president of the non-profit Coral Gables Cinemateque, which operates the cinema. The City of Coral Gables is also a partner in the cinema and landlord to Cinemateque.

Rosenberg, who is still finalizing the programming for the first year, was hesitant to show too much of his hand. But he did say that he's in the process of creating relationships with several film festivals to debut films. Still, he said the Gables Cinema will mostly show films for an extended theatrical run -- not the one-night-stand showings that occur at film festivals. The cinema, located just down the street from Books & Books on the ground floor of a city-owned parking garage,  will also feature a Cinema Café. On the heels of the Coconut Grove's Paragon theater, which serves wine and beer, this cafe will also offer cinephiles a selection of booze as well as high-end pastries. Eventually there will also be light lunch and dinner fare.

So the big question:Wwhen does it open? You'll have to be satisfied with the vague answer of "soon."  Rosenberg hopes it'll screen its first film in the next couple of months.

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