After 53 years, the Merrick Film Forum may be coming to an end. Owing to a lack of funding, President Jay Broad has announced that the 2010-11 season will be the forum’s last.
Having entertained the community since 1957, the forum meets regularly in the auditorium of Merrick Avenue Middle School. The group invites the public to view films and take part in moderated discussions. The group has long depended on state grant funding, but with the state facing massive budget deficits, the forum recently lost its grant commitment.
“We look for movies that are interesting and can lead to some type of discussion,” Broad said. “A lot of the discussion hinges on anthropology, sociology and understanding different cultures.”
Each meeting, which attracts from 50 to more than 100 people, is led by guest speakers, who have included newspaper columnists, college professors and such luminaries as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and world-renowned cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
The forum began receive state grant money about 20 years ago, according to Broad. Sen. Norman Levy, who died in 1998, secured the original grant. When current Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. assumed the seat 12 years ago, he continued the grant.
Such grants, known as member items, are given out annually to community organizations throughout the state. The Film Forum relied on state grants to pay expenses, which totaled $700 to $800 per movie session. Fuschillo had renewed the forum’s grant earlier this year, but Gov. David Paterson vetoed it, along with a host of other member items. Broad said that the forum raised its per-session fee to $6 per person and reduced expenses. Now it has just enough money left for four more movie sessions.
Fuschillo could not be reached for comment at press time.
The forum’s next meeting will take place on Friday, with a viewing of Woody Allen’s 2009 romantic comedy, “Whatever Works.” The three other films are “My House in Umbria” (2003) on Nov. 5, “Bella” (2006) on Dec. 17 and “The Little Traitor” (2007) on March 25.
If the forum is unable to secure additional funding, March’s viewing will be the last session. But just in case new money comes through, Broad has reserved additional movies, as well as the forum’s usual space at the Merrick Avenue auditorium, for two more months after March.
“If an angel comes along sometime before the first of the year, we are prepared to work something out,” Broad said. "It's a shame that an organization that has been around for 53 years has to go out of business because we can't raise enough money to keep it going.”
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