When Cosford Cinema Director Trae DeLellis plans what movies to screen, he runs into a strange dilemma. The cinema’s odd dichotomy of young college students and older moviegoers makes for an interesting mix of films.
DeLellis said Italian and French films usually do well, as does the Cosford’s opera series, but he also tries to find movies like “Hesher,” with Joseph Gordon- Levitt and Natalie Portman, to draw a younger crowd.
“The more controversial the film, the better it’s been,” he said.
Cosford, nestled in the Oscar Dooley Memorial classroom building, is one of the few art cinemas in Miami that caters to a unique local community, and the only one that is free for students.
The theater was named after the late former film professor and Miami Herald film critic Bill Cosford, who helped bring the formerly named Beaumont Cinema’s art house films into the public light.
According to DeLellis, Cosford’s mission is now more important than ever, with the economy causing independent studios to shut down, and constant film franchise reboots like the “Spider-Man” series dominating the silver screen.
“Interesting films are always being made, but now it’s harder for them to get distributed,” DeLellis said. “It seems now is the most important time for art cinemas to be around.”
Aside from Cosford’s own programming, the student-run Cinematic Arts Commission (CAC) screens sneak peaks at upcoming movies, as well as second-run feature films.
“We do play indie films on weekends, but we also play modern blockbusters, which other cinemas don’t do,” CAC chair John Lake said.
Last year’s new movies included titles like “The Hangover Part II,” “Harry Potter 7, Part 2” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Classic CAC titles still had a strong resonance with students. “10 Things I Hate About You” and “The Lion King” made a comeback on the big screen.
CAC hosts special events like film festivals, like last year’s Disney series and the yearly screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The group screens Rocky Horror for three nights every Halloween weekend with a live shadow cast, where the audience can get up and perform with the actors.
“You get to throw things at the screen and it’s a blast,” Lake said.
Last year also marked the 14th year of the Canes Film Festival, where students can showcase their work at Cosford. Festival winners get to screen their movies in front of industry professionals in Los Angeles.
“It’s a really big deal for all the film students,” motion pictures graduate student Maggie Drayton said. “It’s our own festival where we get to screen our own films in a really cool, well-run theater.”
Cosford holds film lectures too, like the one in September, which featured a Skype phone call with director Kevin Smith after a screening of his horror movie “Red State.”
Yet the best thing about Cosford, according to DeLellis, is that it’s the one place in Miami where people know how to respect film.
“I don’t know if it’s just a Miami thing, but I’ve never been at movies where people understand etiquette,” DeLellis said. “One time I was at CocoWalk, a woman took three phone calls during a movie. Everyone at Cosford is pretty respectful.”