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Film Forum in New York. Photo: Peter Aaron/ OTTO. Courtesy of Film Forum.
Film Forum in New York. Photo: Peter Aaron/ OTTO. Courtesy of Film Forum.

New York’s Film Forum Receives $1 Million Gift

Film Forum in New York has received a $1 million donation from the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation to mark the independent cinema’s fiftieth anniversary. The nonprofit theater was established in 1970 on the Upper West Side with fifty folding chairs and has since expanded to a four-screen, 469-seat theater in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Helmed by Karen Cooper, who was named director in 1972, Film Forum currently has an operating budget of $6 million.

In honor of the anniversary gift, Film Forum will inaugurate the Diana King Theater in remembrance of the foundation’s founder and longtime chair and president. Diana King, who passed away in January 2019, launched the foundation in 1988. Her father, Charles King, was a leading distributor of syndicated television programs, including Jeopardy and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Since its inception, the organization has funded scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, among other universities. 

The foundation’s contribution is supplemented by a $250,000 donation from the Robert Jolin Osborne Trust for the creation of the Robert Jolin Osborne Endowed Fund for American Classic Cinema of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Other projects being organized to celebrate the institution’s fiftieth anniversary include presentations by directors and filmmakers on screenings they saw at Film Forum and the limited-edition sale of a series by board member and artist Cindy Sherman, proceeds from which will benefit the theater.

In 2017, the cinema underwent a major refurbishment with the addition of its fourth screen, a project that was overseen by Stephen Tilly—one of the designers of Film Forum’s previous location on Watts Streets—and supported with a $1 million donation from the Thompson Family Foundation as well as funds from the City of New York, the New York City Council, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and members of the theater’s board.