“A Kong-sized memory” by Kathy Bock


This coming Saturday, August 24th, at 10 p.m., Cinema Center (in cooperation with Shaffer Multimedia) will offer a free screening of the classic movie King Kong (1933) on the front of the Arts United Center building. For Kathy Bock, this outdoor venue brings back a fond movie memory.


One summer night when I was about 6, I saw the classic movie King Kong (1933) outdoors under the
stars. It wasn’t at a drive-in theater, though. Let me explain with a little story.

Back in those days (the 1960s), my parents rented a small cottage on Corey Lake in Michigan where we spent our summers. I loved it there — swimming, skiing, fishing for bluegill…doing all the fun things people do at a lake. But for my family and our lake gang, the real excitement of summer happened on the weekends, when Jack Cronk blew in.

I say “blew in” because Jack always arrived in swirling cloud of dust. I can still see his sparkly, green-finned convertible roaring down the dirt road toward our cottage every Friday night, signaling the official start of the weekend.

Although he wasn’t a large man, Jack was larger than life. He was big-hearted, adventurous, and did everything on a grand scale. Instead of just lighting a grill like a normal person, for instance, Jack would pull out a fire-breathing blowtorch that made all the women scream and the dogs run like hyenas for cover.

But I digress. One night, King Kong was being shown on TV, and Jack decided the whole gang should watch it together, outside by the old apple tree. (Was this even possible? My young brain could hardly fathom the idea of TV al fresco.) But Jack hauled out a portable black & white TV set and placed it on top of a small pop shed. (In hindsight, I realize the actual name of this structure, which housed a large refrigerator, was probably “beer shed,” but hey, I was 6. I had other priorities.)

Anyway, Jack did some fiddling with the TV’s rabbit ears and voilà, a young girl was suddenly transported across the ocean to the fictional Skull Island in search of a giant ape named Kong. I was mesmerized. The ominous drumming, the suspenseful music (by Max Steiner), the groundbreaking stop-motion animation (by Willis O’Brien), the masterful storytelling — it all worked its magic on me.

But I can’t underestimate the power of the venue that night. For me, one of the reasons that movie was so memorable has to do with the circumstances under which I saw it: I was outdoors, surrounded by family and friends, in the dark of night. This wasn’t just a movie — it was an event.

Jack Cronk, like the promoter Carl Denham in King Kong, understood the power of spectacle. He knew this movie was too big to be seen on a small screen. And while he couldn’t enlarge his TV set for us, he did the next best thing. He made our “theater” as big and wondrous as possible. There was popcorn (and undoubtedly beer) as a small group of friends formed a semicircle of lawn chairs to watch this classic tale of beauty and the beast, inexplicably framed by the beauty of a Michigan night sky.

This was movie magic, pure and simple, and I’ll never forget it. And now you have a chance to experience it, too. This coming Saturday, August 24th, as part of Taste of the Arts, Cinema Center will show King Kong for free at 10 p.m. across the front of the Arts United Center building. Grab your lawn chairs, folks, and come on down.  

If you’ve never seen the original King Kong before (or even if you have), I can’t imagine a better way to watch it now. Many of the best scenes are set outdoors at night, making an outdoor night venue the perfect way to experience this film. And don’t forget, this is a movie about a gigantic 25-foot ape. Doesn’t he deserve to be seen on the big screen? (Seriously, you may never get another chance. I’ve been waiting 50 years for this one!)

If you come, I promise you the experience will be something you’ll remember all your life. And you know I’ll be there, giggling like a kid over the size of Kong’s head, and remembering with great respect the man who first introduced me to the magic of movies one dark summer night a long time ago, on a small flickering screen.

I’ll save a seat for you, Jack.

Jack Cronk in front of the old pop shed. 



Kathy Bock is a freelance advertising copywriter, Cinema Center board member, and chair of the Events committee. She’s seen all the remakes of King Kong but still prefers the original, which she’s watched too many times to mention (including a weeklong “kong-athon” when the two-disc Collector’s Edition came out in 2005 and she hardly slept). Kathy has never seen the film on the big screen and is praying that it doesn’t rain on Saturday. 

"The Gift" by Ruth Langhinrichs



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Thank you, Cinema Center. Words, however, are not thanks enough. Neither is the most creative of fund raisers. Or the most well-written of  grants. Or even the most successful of impromptu appeals for a necessary item of equipment. Let's express our gratitude and delight in the gifts of Cinema Center with our continuous financial support and planned giving.

[Although Cinema Center has met the initial goal for the Digital Projector Fund, you can still donate to help cover additional costs associated with the update as well as ongoing improvement of the facilities.]


Ruth Langhinrichs, a founding board member, has been a Cinema Center supporter for 37 years. She's also a friend of Kathy Bock who challenged her to write a Haiku to sum up her feelings about Cinema Center.



"Cinema Center Strikes Back" by Jonah Crismore




If the different acts of my life played out like a movie, some of the best scenes would have happened at Cinema Center. There have been scenes that provided a nice surprise twist, such as the time my wife and I attended a screening of what we thought would be Lonesome Jim, but because of misreading the show times were instead treated with Joyeux Noel, a multi-language, World War I-set Christmas film. It has become one of our favorites. It is also the type of film we could have only seen at Cinema Center.

There have been soaring highs, such as the time I saw Duck Soup for the first time, much too late in my life (probably my late teens) at a comedy film festival at Cinema Center, and there have been devastating lows—I am still trying to recover from Blue Valentine.

For me, film is not a way to pass a couple of hours, and I will never identify with those who claim going to the movies is just a good escape. When I am truly honest with myself, I do not even feel film is a popular art form, no matter what my brain may be saying. Everything I experience is through the prism of how it would work in a movie. As far as I am concerned, with no sense of irony or hyperbole, film is life.

Sometimes I wonder if it is a life that I have chosen, but I would prefer it to have chosen me. And, I believe fully that it began to choose me as a teenager going to films at Cinema Center, watching movies I was probably not quite experienced enough to understand, and being exposed to a far wider world that I had no idea existed.

It is true I have always enjoyed films and the experience of watching them in a theater with my fellow cineastes. The first film I can remember seeing in a theater was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and I left it with two inescapable loves: time travel stories and going to the movies. But as I got older, it was at Cinema Center screenings where I have felt inspired to go out and be part of the act of making films.

Without Cinema Center, I would not have attended film school, an endeavor that would take my wife and me all over the country, and return to the place it all began, on the corner of Clay Street and Berry. If I was instructing my screenwriting students, I would say this is the point where the story should end, that balance has returned and the protagonist (me) is much better off than when the story began. I wasn’t lying; I look at everything in relation to how it would play out in a film.

I am much better off than when I left to attend film school in Chicago. I now have the best job in the city. I actually get paid to bring films, important works that would otherwise not be seen in the area, to my home community. But, the story cannot end there. The film industry is changing, and during this first year at the helm of Cinema Center, I have had to deal with the reality that the theater must convert to digital projection in order to remain open.  

If we do not make this conversion other young men and women will not have that special place in the community where they can experience films that move them, that inspire them to pick up a camera and start shooting. They will not fall in love with Wong Kar-wai films on the big screen, or learn a little more about everyday life with Woody Allen, or be exposed to the greats who have been long gone such as Ford, Welles, Pickford, and Hitchcock.

If we go back to the assertion that film is life, think of this next stage for Cinema Center as its sequel of sorts. And, this time, you have a chance to play a large role in making sure this sequel is even better than the original.

Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.



Jonah Crismore is Cinema Center's Executive Director and has hopes of someday being an advisor to the restoration of any of Orson Welles' many lost films.








"A little bit of us would go with it" by Kathy Weiss


In 1989 I spent a semester in London as a social work student. When I had free time I went to the cinema and saw many wonderful films…documentaries and indie films, obscure films.

When I returned to Fort Wayne I was in withdrawal. Where would I get my “fix” of smart, funny, controversial films? Certainly not at the big box theatres. They had the run-of-the-mill “blow them up” movies that appealed to the common denominator…money making.

The thoughtful films were to be found only at Cinema Center.

Cinema Center is a gem in the midst of Fort Wayne. Only at Cinema Center can one find films to stir the soul and mind, films to provoke, to take us from the ordinary. Only at Cinema Center can we find films that lift us up or provoke us into thought.

If Cinema Center is to carry on our spirit it is up to us to support its spirit. Without the digital projector Cinema Center would go dark. If that were to happen a little bit of us would go with it.

Keep the lights on. Keep the spirit going. Keep our spirits going.




Kathi Weiss is a cinephile who supports her habit by teaching psychology at Ivy Tech.

"Finding my community" by Kathy Bock


Some people have big, loving families. Some have church. Others have clubs and social groups. Me? I’ve always had Cinema Center. It’s the one place I go to feel connected. To be among like-minded individuals. To find a true sense of community. (Which, come to think of it, is kind of odd for a place where everyone sits alone in the dark.)

But Cinema Center is more than great movies. Shoot, if that’s all you want, you can just plant yourself on the couch and hit “Play.” And quite often I do, getting more than my money’s worth out of Netflix, DVDs and umpteen on-demand options. But comfy as my couch is, I always come back to Cinema Center.

Why? Maybe it’s because I like walking in the door and being handed a tub of popcorn by Caroline (who knows I’m a member and I take my popcorn plain).

Maybe it’s because Cinema Center is intimate, friendly and always costs less than the big theater chains. Actually, if you’re a member, it’s crazy cheap – just 5 bucks and the popcorn is free. And that’s not even counting the scads of free films Cinema Center shows as a public service to the community. What other theater does that?

Then there are the events. Nobody throws a party like Cinema Center. I’m thinking Good Burger Night, Artament, Braineaters’ Ball, the recent Hitchcock-themed Oscar Party, a poetry night for On the Road… Honestly, every time I check the website, there’s something quirky and fun coming up. Right now I’m over the moon about Cinema Center showing the original King Kong outdoors on the side of the Arts United building this summer. How cool will that be?

Of course, one of the main reasons I come to Cinema Center is because it’s home for me. This is where I belong. I first attended a Cinema Center movie back in 1979 when I was fresh out of college. I’d just moved to town and was looking for a place to go on a Saturday night so I wouldn’t feel so alone. I found it at Cinema Center.

In those days, the movies were shown at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on a finicky projector that made a lot of racket and broke down with alarming regularity, but that didn’t deter me. I’d found my people – and my kind of movies: North by Northwest, 8 ½, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday, Harold and Maude, A Place in the Sun, Throne of Blood, My Dinner with Andre, La Strada… Where else but Cinema Center was I going I see great films like these projected on a big screen? And where else could I go by myself and still be among friends?

Over the years, Cinema Center has grown and changed with the times, but it still shows the best movies in town and it’s still my favorite place to go on a Saturday night.

A few years back, I decided to throw myself a big 50th  birthday bash. So naturally, I rented out Cinema Center  and invited 100 of my closest friends to see Moonstruck, my favorite film. It was as close as I’ve come to a full-circle moment, having so many friends and relatives in the place where my adult life really began – the place that’s always been like a second home to me. (I get a little verklempt just thinking about it.)

But now, I understand that Cinema Center is threatened. If we don’t go digital, we go dark. Simple as that. We must raise $50,000 to buy a digital projector or it’s lights out. The industry is forcing the change, but it’s the community that must come together to save Cinema Center. I’m confident we can.

Won’t you please give generously to Cinema Center’s Digital Projector Fund? Do it for the arts. Do it for Fort Wayne. Do it for movie lovers like you and me, so together, we’ll always have that home in the dark.

See you there some Saturday night, okay?



Kathy Bock is a freelance advertising copywriter and three-time Cinema Center board member. She wants readers to know that even though she favors Saturday night screenings, Cinema Center is open seven days a week and now offers discounted weekday matinees. 

"Nowhere else but Cinema Center" by Cathie Rowand


I love a good documentary and I don’t recall any of the for-profit box theaters in town ever offering one. I don’t even think mainstream documentaries like What the Bleep Do We Know or Chris Rock’s Good Hair showed anywhere else but at Cinema Center.

A recent favorite of mine was David Turnley’s presentation of his movie Shenandoah, a film he has been working on since 2008. Turnley accompanied the presentation of his film and answered questions afterwards. In a relatively small city like Fort Wayne, such opportunities wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for Cinema Center.

The bottom line is: if it isn’t a profit maker, then the movie is not going to show at our local theaters. At Cinema Center gems from small distributors have been brought in for the simple reason that it is a great movie or thought-provoking. Now Cinema Center needs our help in updating to a new digital projector. Many donations of whatever you can give will pay for this and allow Cinema Center to continue offering opportunities that help make Fort Wayne the special city that it is.

Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.



Cathie Rowand is a photojournalist who wants to be a documentary filmmaker when she grows up.

"New love and an abiding presence" by Barb Wachtman


It was the fall of 1997 and I had just started dating “this new guy” who was sweeping me off my feet. I ran into then Cinema Center director Cathy Lee in a book store and told her about “this new guy.” Cathy immediately advised me to see Masayuki Suo’s new movie Shall We Dance. “It’s a great date movie,” she promises.

She wasn’t kidding! Sensuous, funny, hot, well-sculpted characters, a universal story told new and memorable. For many months after that Tom (this new guy) and I took sharp corners when walking, just like the protagonist’s up-tight boss in Dance. Even in public places. Isn’t it silly the things people do during new love? And we turned many sharp corners!

When I told my husband Tom – “this guy” and I married in 1998 – about remembering Shall We Dance, I walked in exaggerated sharp corners and we both laughed. Since Shall We Dance, we have seen countless movies at CC together, we have become patron members, attended fundraisers and bought memberships as Christmas gifts for Tom’s son.

Beyond giving us a great “date movie” early in our courtship, Cinema Center has given us the gamut of great art as film from thoughtful movies such as The Lives of Others to lifetime love stories such as Amour.

Cinema Center was there to launch our relationship and has remained an abiding presence. We still turn sharp corners occasionally and always share a smile after the turn. It’s what great art during special moments does: tattoo itself to your memory and, if you’re lucky, on your heart, too. 

Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.


Barb Wachtman is a passionate writer, communicator, community volunteer and Cubs fan. Like the cliche, she lives to laugh, learn and love. 

"Worth our support" by Adie Baach

We have been fans and supporters of Cinema Center since its move to Clay Street. Recently, we saw "Renoir," a marvelous film to be seen nowhere else in Fort Wayne. That has always been Cinema Center's aim and place in our city: to show the finest independent films available, no matter their political correctness or their universal appeal. In our growing homogenous culture, this is a rare and noble aim. Surely worth our support!




Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.



Adie Baach is a past Cinema Center Board President and still a dedicated community volunteer.



"The math is simple" by Norma Friedman




I just can’t think of one reason for anyone to contribute to the campaign to buy Cinema Center a digital projector. I can only describe thousands of reasons why the community must dig deep and give. Cinema Center has been the centerpiece of the Fort Wayne cultural experience for decades! Young, old, hip, conservative, student, and fine arts addicts have patronized this intimate, comfortable, versatile and clean arts venue. It has been providing movies, lectures, and performances for countless numbers of residents, friends, and visitors. It is a Fort Wayne arts destination.

Think of any city that does not have an independent non-profit movie theater in its art repertoire and you probably are looking at a dying, uninteresting, and economically depressed town, a place you just do not want to visit or live.

We simply cannot lose one of our most creative cultural attractions.

The math is simple. No digital projector, no Cinema Center.

Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.


Norma is a Professor Emeritus at Indiana Tech and a former Cinema Center board member. 






"Come to the rescue" by Bruce Lehman

It is easy to wax nostalgically about the films we all love and find endearing. How many films can you conjure up right now? A few…many? Now I want to explain why I am also committed to wax futuristically as our Cinema Center reaches another terrific milestone. One all film lovers can embrace: Help keep the screen lit through the Cinema Center Digital Projector Fund!

True, we are fortunate to have the one 'n' only place in this region where you can see an impressive variety of independent, foreign and documentary films you will not find on any other area screen. (Who Killed the Electric Car? is one of my favorites.) Also true, it can all go away. 

Imagine that one new independent film you heard all the buzz about can't be shown. And none of the big cinemas have any interest. In fact, many film distributors are already stating that 35mm film is quickly going away. And horror of horrors, if the screen goes dark, you and I lose fresh popped corn with real butter.

All calories aside, the bottom line is no digital projector...no Cinema Center. 

It seems so cold, but that is the dilemma we find ourselves in and why this is our chance to come to the rescue. 

Think about your interest in film and our Cinema Center. Help me ensure its contribution to Fort Wayne and the region will be stronger than ever. Do it now! http://www.cinemacenter.org/projector/index.html

Help Cinema Center go digital by donating to the Digital Projector Fund today.


Bruce Lehman is a longtime supporter of Cinema Center and should not eat too much buttered popcorn.

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