Film Forum Receives $1 Million 50th Anniversary Gift from King Family Foundation

Film Forum marquee. © Peter Aaron/Esto. All rights reserved.

Karen Cooper, director of New York City’s Film Forum since 1972, announced more than one million dollars in gifts to commemorate the theater’s 50th anniversary this year.

The anniversary is being celebrated with a $1 million gift from the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation in memory of the Foundation’s founder and longtime chair and president, Diana King. Her father, Charles King, was founder of King World Productions, a leading distributor of syndicated television programming (“Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show”). Diana King, who passed away in January 2019, established the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation in 1988. For the next 30 years, the Foundation has supported a panoply of undergraduate and graduate scholarship programs for students in film, television, and other media. Film Forum has received funding from the Foundation every year since 2005, and since 2015 specifically to support its “Film Forum Jr.” program of weekend classics for children. Film Forum is honoring King’s generous legacy with the naming of The Diana King Theater.

The Robert Jolin Osborne Trust will make a $250,000 gift to Film Forum during its anniversary year, to establish the Robert Jolin Osborne Endowed Fund for American Classic Cinema of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Additionally, the estate recently made a $50,000 gift in support of the Kevin Brownlow Festival honoring the world-renowned film historian, author, and documentarian, which will take place at Film Forum May 8–21. Brownlow will be in person at numerous screenings and events. Robert Osborne (1932-2017) is known to just about every American who ever turned on the TV to watch an old movie. As the iconic, silver-haired host on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) for more than two decades, he was termed “a one-of-a-kind cinematic savant” by The New York Times. The Osborne Endowed Fund will support Film Forum’s longtime commitment to American classic cinema from the 1930s through the 1950s, under the leadership of Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming.

Having opened on the Upper West Side in 1970 with 50 folding chairs, the nonprofit cinema has grown to its present incarnation: 4 screens, 469 seats, open 365 days year, with a $6 million operating budget. Film Forum maintains a dual profile – as a leading cinema for NYC premieres of independent foreign and American features, and as a leading repertory cinema, championing classic movies and overlooked masterpieces.

Film Forum is a nonprofit whose budget is offset by gifts from public funders (the National Endowment for the Arts, the NYS Council on the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs), private individuals, foundations, and corporations. Major gifts over the years from the Ford Foundation, the Ostrovsky Family Fund, the Cordelia Corporation, the Harry S. Thomson Foundation, the Kaplen Brothers Fund, the Charina Endowment Fund, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, the Constantiner Family Foundation, the Thompson Family Foundation, Caryl Ratner, the Clayton-Royer Family Fund, the R.G. Rifkind Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, and others have played a critical part in the theater’s longevity. It is with the support of GFP Real Estate (the Gural Family and Partners real estate platform), Film Forum’s landlord, that the theater’s 2018 expansion into a contiguous space—for the creation of a 4th screen—was made possible.

In addition to the naming of the Diana King Theater and the establishment of the Robert Jolin Osborne Endowed Fund, Film Forum is marking its 50th anniversary with these projects:

  • Several evenings of in-person presentations by directors and stars will focus on movies they saw at Film Forum which have had a lasting effect upon their lives and work. Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke (a Film Forum board member), will present Dennis Hopper’s rarely seen directorial feature The Last Movie, and will participate in a moderated dialogue.
  • A limited-edition series by renowned artist Cindy Sherman (also a Film Forum board member) will be for sale to benefit the theater, through the artist’s generosity and that of her gallery, Metro Pictures.
  • An anniversary trailer, created by Jump Cut, will be on Film Forum screens this spring.
  • A “Happy Birthday” trailer featuring 8 NYC arts luminaries (Gary Cryst, André Gregory, Ethan Hawke, Famke Janssen, Margo Jefferson, Natasha Lyonne, and Frances McDormand) will be released shortly.
  • A 6-minute original movie (“The Projectionists”) is now playing on Film Forum’s YouTube channel, made by Coren H.G..
  • A new Film Forum T-shirt, based on the 1981 “Greetings from Film Forum” postcard, designed by George Griffin, is now on sale at the theater’s concession and online.
Film Forum marquee. © Peter Aaron/Esto. All rights reserved.

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