Director's Note: A Good Time for the Dryden

Submitted by Bruce Barnes,

The Dryden Theatre is the George Eastman Museum’s venue for exhibiting motion pictures that represent the entire history of the medium. Few film theaters of its kind remain.

Since the Dryden’s opening in 1951, our museum has presented each of its more than 16,000 screenings as a “cinematic event.” Several elements contribute to this practice: our program is expertly selected by Jurij Meden, curator of film exhibitions; the motion pictures are, with rare exceptions, shown in their original medium and format, whether 35mm or 16mm, video or digital; our skilled projectionists assure the high quality of the screening; and finally, our staff, volunteers, and visiting experts provide some of the history behind each film, explain its importance in our visual culture, and perhaps offer some interpretation.

Notwithstanding our passionate dedication to exhibiting motion pictures—as art, education, and entertainment—at the highest standards, the Dryden faces the same challenges as other movie houses in attracting people to leave the comfort and myriad entertainment options of their homes. So, during the last several months, the Eastman Museum conducted an online survey about the Dryden. We are grateful to the 2,673 people who participated. More than three-quarters of the respondents strongly agreed that the Dryden is an important part of Rochester’s cultural community, but we did not conduct the survey for self-congratulation.

The survey was designed to determine the preferences of you—our audience—and thus enable us to serve you better. One set of questions concerned preferred start times for screenings. The results revealed a preference among a significant majority of respondents for an earlier time. Therefore, effective January 3, the standard start time for our evening screenings will be 7:30 p.m. We understand that this change will not please everyone, but the survey clearly indicated that it would better meet the preferences and needs of most of our audience.

The coming year promises a number of special events. As a result of our close working relationship with Warner Bros., the Eastman Museum has been offered the opportunity to purchase new 35mm prints of the six films Stanley Kubrick made for the studio. With funds specially donated by individual trustees, the museum has acquired 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), and The Shining (1980). All four titles will be shown at the Dryden during 2017. 

This January, the Eastman Museum will present its recently acquired print of the roadshow version of Kubrick’s visionary science-fiction masterwork, 2001: A Space Odyssey, complete with the music meant to be heard before the film’s beginning, during the intermission, and at the end. The film will be shown at the Dryden Theatre on Thursday, January 19, with the film’s star, Keir Dullea, who played astronaut Dave Bowman, in person to introduce the film and share stories and insights about its making. Tickets for the special event with Keir Dullea are sold out, but there will be an encore presentation on Sunday, January 22 at 2 p.m.

For March and April, we have organized a retrospective of ten films of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who has won three Academy Awards for cinematography. His masterworks include Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972), Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979), and Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty, 1990).

In the coming months, the Dryden Theatre will be better integrated into the museum during daytime hours. When the museum is open, visitors will be able to enter the Dryden through the theater’s interior front doors (near the café) or through two doors from the historic Colonnade, which extends from the Palm House to the mansion dining room.

One use of the Dryden Theatre during museum hours will be as an exhibition space for moving image works by contemporary artists—works that would generally be presented in a fine art museum rather than at a cinema. Featured first will be an artwork by renowned South African artist William Kentridge, who donated his entire oeuvre of more than one hundred moving image works to the Eastman Museum in 2015.

We look forward to seeing you at the Dryden— night or day.

Bruce Barnes, Ph.D.
Ron and Donna Fielding Director
November/December 2016 Bulletin

Thursday, January 5, 2017