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David Cabrera and Ryan Hunter Mitchell announced plans to open a small, one-screen art-house theater in Mt. Pleasant shortly after West End Cinema closed its doors, leaving a big hole for District cinephiles. Since then, West End has reopened under the ownership of Landmark Theatres, which also opened an ornate new location on the U Street corridor. A little more than a year after announcing their project, Cabrera and Mitchell’s Suns Cinema is scheduled to open this weekend, and it promises to be different than any other theater in D.C.
For starters, Suns Cinema will almost entirely screen repertory cinema, starting this Sunday with the 1970 documentary about the flight of Apollo 11, Moonwalk One. Thus far, that’s the only film announced, but Cabrera tells Arts Desk that they “already have some things lined up with Janus Films, Drafthouse Films, and the National Film Archive of Czech Republic.” Next weekend, Cabrera says, Suns Cinema will screen the documentary The American Dreamer, about Dennis Hopper putting together his film The Last Movie.
In March of 2015, Cabrera and Mitchell launched a Kickstarter to help fund the opening of the movie house and raised $16,149. It took Suns Cinema, which occupies a former Cricket Wireless storefront in Mt. Pleasant, more than a year to open because of the permitting process. “Things with the city take a minute,” Cabrera says. “The hardest [part] was going through DCRA.”
Doors open at 5 p.m. on Sunday for a 6:30 p.m. screening, and tickets, which will cost between $5 and $8, will be sold at the theater. In addition to screening movies, Suns Cinema has a small bar and will serve snacks before screenings.
Cabrera says they’re still working out the programming details, but they plan to have screenings every day, with “one or two screenings” on weekday nights and “three or four during the weekends.” They plan to take a less traditional approach to programming films and events. This could include screenings of Saturday morning cartoons on—you guessed it—Saturday mornings, to classic and cult foreign and independent titles from both Janus Films and the Criterion Collection’s repertoire. “We’re shooting [to screen] more repertory [films],” Cabrera says. “I’m not opposed to showing new movies, but I think the whole thing for us is trying to do stuff that other people aren’t doing.”
Photo by David Cabrera