Metrograph Celebrates 3rd Anniversary by Launching Namesake Distribution Co.

Patti Smith attends the Metrograph 3rd Anniversary Party - Getty - P 2019
Dominik Bindl/WireImage

Patti Smith, Justin Theroux, Isabelle Huppert were among the stars feting the New York art house theater.

Patti Smith goes to see movies at the Metrograph in Lower Manhattan for a taste of how New York used to be. “Our city really needs places like this, there used to be lots of them,” she told THR in the theater’s lobby during Metrograph's third-anniversary celebration Thursday evening. “It’s not as funky as maybe other places, but it feels familiar. I can connect it with my whole life, and at this point in my life, it’s just what I need. I don’t always want to go to a museum to see a [Jean-Luc] Godard film. I’m really happy to come to a little theater that I can sit there and watch it at midnight or two in the afternoon. I love it here.”

In addition to the independent art house cinema’s acclaimed lineup of films and series new and old, what keeps Smith, a host of the anniversary fete, coming back is the upstairs library with “great books you can buy on cinema” and her go-to movie theater indulgence: “The most awesome dark chocolate-covered popcorn — it’s fantastic.”

In just the three years since its opening, the Metrograph has become a neighborhood staple of the Lower East Side for arty elite, local filmmakers and aficionados, and the general New Yorker in-the-know.

Also in attendance at Thursday’s late-night celebration were founder and president Alexander Olch; artistic and programming director Jake Perlin; hosts Smith, Maggie Betts, Sara Driver, Debra Granik, Kenneth Lonergan, Oren Moverman, Dee Rees, Josh Safdie, James Schamus, Paul Schrader, Cindy Sherman, Whit Stillman, and Trudie Styler; and guests including Jack and Rachel Antonoff, Justin Theroux, John Turturro, Griffin Dunne, John Gallagher Jr., Tavi Gevinson, Leslye Headland, Amy Heckerling, Isabelle Huppert, Rebecca Miller and Margarita Levieva.

“It means a tremendous amount, and it’s great to be here with the whole team,” Olch told THR of the festivities. “We were here three years ago in a month when the building wasn’t yet finished and the paint wasn’t dry. We didn’t even have heat yet. And to be here now three years later, I just feel tremendously proud of everyone on the team tonight.”

In addition to the third anniversary, the event was held to also commemorate the launch of Metrograph Pictures, the theater’s namesake film distribution company, which will focus on standout new releases and restored classics.

“One thing that we’ve learned about playing movies in our theater is that we actually might know something about distributing those films, and the real exciting step that we’re taking is to start actually owning and distributing a lot of the titles that we’re playing here,” Olch continued. “We have an exciting slate of films, all of them are going to premiere here at Metrograph, and then also play around the country.”

The distribution company made its debut with Claire Simon’s The Competition (Le Concours), a documentary from the veteran filmmaker on the admission process at French film school La Fémis. Additional upcoming titles include Hyenas on April 28 and A Bigger Splash on June 28.

The Metrograph celebrations continued well into the night with an Absolut Elyx-sponsored open bar; buffet-style servings of rib roast, chicken à la chinois and assorted meats, breads and cheeses, with the well-heeled attendees dancing, mingling and ducking in and out of the movie theater’s screenings of shorts like Barbara Rubin’s Christmas on Earth and Gabriel Abrantes’ Taprobana.