Happy New Year!
On behalf of our board, staff, and volunteers, I hope 2021 finds you well, in good health, and hard at work on those New Year’s Resolutions!
What a remarkable year to look back on. We opened 2021 with a retrospective of films by director Bong Joon-ho, whose exceptional Parasite would go on to make history as the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Oscar, among its four awards. To follow this series we lined up a collection of neon-lit films to complement our opening of Chinese neo-noir thriller The Wild Goose Lake, as well as a retrospective of films to commemorate the great actor Max von Sydow — only to find ourselves suddenly canceling months’ worth of programming. On Friday, March 13th, we hosted a sold-out screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the next morning our staff met at the cinema for a quick meeting, collected our work tools from our desks, put a sign up on our front door, and locked up for what we thought would be weeks, maybe a month. We could never have imagined that The Frida had just held her last screening of 2020.
Thanks in large part to your support, the story didn’t end there. Trevor Dillon, our amazing Programmer, quickly held the first of three 10-Hour Stream-A-Thons to help us raise money to keep our staff paid and insured while we worked on identifying new avenues to keep our mission going. On March 27th, just two weeks after closing our doors, we partnered with Kino Lorber Films’ streaming service Kino Marquee — itself a brand new platform in response to COVID-19 — to host our first virtual premiere and run of an art house film, the sensational Bacurau. Then on Saturday, May 23rd, we hosted our very first drive-in screening, The Princess Bride, on the lawn at Fullerton’s Muckenthaler Cultural Center. The event sold out in less than two minutes, which led to two more sold-out encores that Memorial Day weekend. And the calls and emails began to flood in for more.
I am proud to announce that in 2020 our organization presented 83 drive-in events, for approximately 17,716 guests. And we provided you with 161 diverse titles on our streaming platform. We thank the many wonderful host venues and film distributors who partnered with us to make this possible, and we thank every one of you who purchased a ticket, rented a film, made a donation, shared a social media post, or simply told their friends about our organization and events.
It’s still such a surreal thing to look back to just nine months ago, when neither drive-ins nor a streaming art house platform were part of our forecast. I’ve said it twice already in this email, and I’ll say it once again — we couldn’t have done it without your faith, advocacy, and support. Allow me also to express my gratitude to our amazing staff members — Trevor Dillon, Jordan Djahangiri, and Martin Nguyen — for their dedicated work and gracious adaptability throughout the year.
Thank you for helping us ensure that The Frida Cinema wouldn’t see its last days in 2020, as so many wonderful independent businesses and non-profits unfortunately have. To be sure, we still have a long way to go to ensure we will be able to not only sustain ourselves, but to ultimately reopen and return to presenting you with the opportunities to experience the extensive variety of films and events that The Frida would regularly present, month after month. But we’ve made it this far, as we look back at a difficult year, there is so much we have to celebrate.
We wish you much joy, health, and cinema in 2021. Please stay safe out there.
The Frida Cinema
Continued support is vital in our ongoing commitment to provide our community access to diverse art house cinema. Please make a tax-deductible contribution today in support of The Frida Cinema.