Blight Made Right: The Trust for Public Land, a Great Charity, Opens a New Public Park in Watts this Weekend. Join Greg Laemmle for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

A great charity, the Trust for Public Land, along with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, is holding a ribbon cutting in Watts this Saturday for a beautiful new pocket park. Laemmle Theatres President Greg Laemmle and L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino will be there too and the public is invited to join them in celebrating the official opening of this new green space for the people of Watts at 11300 Monitor Avenue. The event is from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, rain or shine. Entertainment and refreshments will be provided.

“For decades, 1.13 acres of land on Monitor Avenue in Watts lay vacant, overgrown with weeds and strewn with garbage and broken glass. When plans for a housing development fell through, the prospect of giving local children and their parents a safe, welcoming place to meet and play motivated neighbors to step forward and support the creation of a community park. Local residents actively participated in the park planning process. At a series of community workshops, they suggested special features and helped to refine and shape their initial input into a coherent concept for the entire park. Following their wishes, the finished design includes a large children’s playground, walking path, a Fitness Zone® outdoor gym for adults and teens, skate-friendly features, and a down-to-earth grassy lawn with picnic tables.

“The project is a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks and is due to be completed in winter of 2015.”

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people all over the United States, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Please join the Laemmle Charitable Foundation in supporting this worthy cause. Every one dollar donated to the TPL conserves more than four dollars worth of land.

P.S., the Watts Towers, one of L.A’s treasures, is less than a mile away from the park, so if you haven’t seen them in a while consider a visit after the festivities at the park.

Monitor Avenue Park design schematic

ABOVE AND BEYOND, Documentary About the Volunteer Fighter Pilots from Abroad Who Helped Save Israel in ’48, Opens February 6

In 1948, a group of World War II pilots, mostly from the United States, volunteered to fight for Israel in its War of Independence.  As members of “Machal”– volunteers from abroad – this ragtag band of brothers turned the tide of the war, preventing the possible annihilation of Israel at the very moment of its birth.  ABOVE AND BEYOND is their story, told for the first time and we are pleased to open the film Friday, February 6 at the Town Center in Encino and the next day at the Royal in West L.A. ABOVE AND BEYOND producer Nancy Spielberg will participate in Q&A’s after the 10:30 AM screening at the Royal and after the 7:50 PM show at the Town Center on Sunday, February 8.

ABOVE AND BEYOND recounts the harrowing missions of the men who helped repel five Arab armies. The film follows them from the United States – where they met and trained in secret and struggled to stay two steps ahead of the FBI – to Panama, Rome and even behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia, where they flew versions of the very Nazi planes they had tried to shoot down in World War II.

Set against the backdrop of an emerging nation still reeling from the horrors of the Holocaust, ABOVE AND BEYOND uncovers the motivations of these volunteers – Jews and non-Jews, some Zionists, many others not.  It recounts the personal stories of the young pilots, whose experiences in Israel were life altering. And ultimately, the film taps into universal themes of courage, commitment and sacrifice.  At a time when a fledgling nation was under attack, a tiny band of airmen answered the call for help. They risked their citizenship, their futures and even their lives.

Volunteer pilots, 1948.

MONK WITH A CAMERA Q&A’s with the Filmmakers this Weekend at the Royal

MONK WITH A CAMERA chronicles the life and spiritual quest of Nicholas (Nicky) Vreeland, who for the past twenty-eight years has been a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The son of a United States Ambassador, grandson of legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, and a photographer by trade, Nicky left his privileged life behind to follow his true calling. He moved to India, cutting his ties with society, photography, and his pleasure-filled world, to live in a monastery with no running water or electricity.

MONK WITH A CAMERA co-directors Tina Mascara and Guido Santi will participate in Q&A’s after the 11 AM screenings at the Royal on Saturday and Sunday, January 31 and February 1.

Top 10 Most Popular Films on for Weekend 4 of 2015

Sometimes you don’t hear about a great movie until it’s gone (or nominated for an award). In an effort to help you find films that otherwise might slip through the cracks, we’re going to highlight this weekend’s ten most popular films  on ranked by pageviews. This week is your last chance to see many of these films, so don’t wait! This week’s top film won the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival!

We also want to take this opportunity to remind you that word of mouth  is probably  the single most important factor in determining the success of smaller films. So when you see a movie you like, tweet about it, post it on Facebook, or go old school and tell your friends face-to-face! Be sure to tag us on Facebook or cc @laemmle on Twitter so we can help you spread the word! Thanks and happy moviegoing!

Top Ten Most Popular Films on for Weekend 4 of 2015

  9. CAKE

Riveting One-Man Play WRESTLING JERUSALEM ~ Two Nights Only at Pico Union Project

The good folks at the Pico Union Project are hosting a powerful one-man play called WRESTLING JERUSALEM on Friday and Saturday, February 6 and 7. Set in America, Israel and Palestine, WRESTLING JERUSALEM follows one man’s journey to understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Aaron Davidman, who also wrote the play, delivers a solo performance that grapples with the complexities of identity, history, and social justice. Giving voice to over a dozen characters, the play sheds light on one of the most entrenched conflicts of our time. Tickets are available here.

The Museum of the San Fernando Valley

Did you know that if the San Fernando Valley were its own city, it would be the fifth largest in the United States? That alone would merit the a serious museum devoted to its history, art and culture, but especially a place as rich and strange, as somehow simultaneously bland and colorful, as the Valley. As of last November, the Museum of the San Fernando Valley is a reality and, as reported recently in the L.A. Times, it’s in Northridge. As longtime and proud Valley movie theater owner-operators, Laemmle Theatres strongly encourages a visit!

David Orenstein of Woodland Hills examines images of Valley architecture at the new Northridge site. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)


The 2015 Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts Open January 30

Here at Laemmle Theatres we take a lot of pride and pleasure in showing many feature documentaries, but it’s extra sweet every February when we can feature the focussed, concise brilliance of the Oscar-nominated short documentaries. We open the program of five films on Friday, January 30 at the Music Hall and February 7 and the Playhouse 7 and Claremont 5. The nominees are:

JOANNA (Aneta Kopacz) – 40 minutes/Poland/Polish. With great visual poetry, JOANNA portrays the simple and meaningful moments in the life of her family. Diagnosed with an untreatable illness, Joanna promises her son that she will do her best to live for as long as possible. It is a story of close relationships, tenderness, love and thoughtfulness.

CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 (Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry) – 39 minutes/USA/English. The timely documentary CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 spotlights the traumas endured by America’s veterans, as seen through the work of the hotline’s trained responders, who provide immediate intervention and support in hopes of saving the lives of service members.

OUR CURSE (Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki) – 27 minutes/Poland/Polish. OUR CURSE is a personal statement of the director and his wife, who have to deal with a very rare and incurable disease of their newborn child – the Ondine’s Curse (also known as CCHS, congenital central hypoventilation syndrome). People affected with this disease stop breathing during sleep and require lifetime mechanical ventilation on a ventilator.

WHITE EARTH (J. Christian Jensen) – 20 minutes/USA/English and Spanish. Thousands of souls flock to America’s Northern Plains seeking work in the oil fields. WHITE EARTH is the tale of an oil boom seen through unexpected eyes. Three children and an immigrant mother brave a cruel winter and explore themes of innocence, home and the American Dream.

THE REAPER (La Parka) (Gabriel Serra Arguello) – 29 minutes/Mexico/Spanish. THE REAPER: Efrain, known as the Reaper, has worked at a slaughterhouse for 25 years. We will discover his deep relationship with death and his struggle to live.

Still from JOANNA

See the World’s Great Exhibitions with Laemmle’s Culture Vulture Series: HERMITAGE REVEALED, POMPEII and VIKINGS: LIFE & LEGEND

With our Culture Vulture series we want to include more than just live theater, opera and ballet. Hence these three upcoming titles that feature exhibitions: HERMITAGE REVEALED on January 26 and 27; POMPEII on February 16 and 17; and VIKINGS: LIFE & LEGEND on March 9 and 10. Like the other films in this series, each provides vivid access to the pinnacles of world culture, minus the air and hotel fare.

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the largest and oldest museums in the world, holding over three million treasures and boasting more curators than any other art institution. To mark the momentous occasion of its 250th anniversary, the museum opened its doors for the filming of HERMITAGE REVEALED – a cinematic event that is a must-see for all fans of art, architecture and the culture and history of Russia.

POMPEII FROM THE BRITISH MUSEUM is the very first cinema event from the museum and will offer an exclusive private view of the British Museum’s blockbuster exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The exhibition focuses on the homes and lives of the inhabitants of the thriving industrial hub of Pompeii and the small seaside town of Herculaneum nearly 2,000 years ago when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. Introduced by British Museum Director Neil MacGregor, this fascinating show will take you around the exhibition with insights from renowned experts who will bring these extraordinary objects to life with accompanying music, poetry and eyewitness accounts.

This special British Museum cinema event VIKINGS: LIFE & LEGEND offers an exclusive private view of the BP exhibition Vikings: life and legend – the first exhibition about the Vikings at the museum for 30 years. Introduced by British Museum Director Neil MacGregor and presented by the celebrated broadcasting historians Michael Wood and Bettany Hughes, the exhibition is brought to life by curator Gareth Williams, alongside experts on Viking ships and swords, burial and beliefs, language and legacy. With demonstrations, stunning close-up photography of the Viking objects in the exhibition and a torch-lit burial staged in the grounds of the museum, Vikings from the British Museum is a reminder of how the Vikings have shaped modern lives across four continents including North America.

AMERICAN BEAR Filmmaker-Adventurers at Both Laemmle Screenings for Q&A’s

As seen in the documentary AMERICAN BEAR, Sarah and Greg set out to critically explore American culture, compassion, and fear by relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Traveling through 30 states in 60 days, they spend every day in a new town, learning why people may or may not be willing to open their homes. Sarah and Greg spend time getting to know their hosts – each uniquely, culturally American – while the film raises questions about how we define American identities.

AMERICAN BEAR co-directors Gregory Grano and Sarah Sellman will participate in Q&A’s after both the January 28 screening at the NoHo 7 and the January 29 screening at the Claremont 5.

ABOVE AND BEYOND Q&A’s at the Royal and Town Center 5 with Producer Nancy Spielberg

In 1948, a group of World War II pilots volunteered to fight for Israel in the War of Independence. As members of ‘Machal’ — volunteers from abroad — this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war, preventing the possible annihilation of Israel at the very moment of its birth; they also laid the groundwork for the Israeli Air Force. ABOVE AND BEYOND is their story. The first major feature-length documentary about the foreign airmen in the War of Independence, ABOVE AND BEYOND brings together new interviews with pilots from the ’48 War, as well as leading scholars and statesmen, including Shimon Peres, to present an extraordinary, little-known tale with reverberations up to the present day.

ABOVE AND BEYOND producer Nancy Spielberg will participate in Q&A’s after the 10:30 AM screening at the Royal and after the 7:50 PM show at the Town Center on Sunday, February 8.