In 1973, Vic Skolnick and Charlotte Sky began the New Community Cinema-which would become the Cinema Arts Centre (CAC)-in a friend’s dance studio with a 16mm film projector borrowed from the public library. Responding to a profound lack of artistic, independent, and international cinema on Long Island, Skolnick and Sky had a vision of engaging people in cinema culture, creating a new community of film-goers on Long Island who sought access to a broader choice of films in their community and to use the power of film toward a greater social good. In-depth discussion, often with directors, film artists or guest speakers relevant to films’ topics, evolved to become a central component of CAC programming. Such discussions often served to explore and illuminate issues such as the environment, social and economic justice, diversity and equality.
Membership began as a simple request for film-goers to pay one dollar to help rent the next week’s film. From such a beginning, a cultural movement was formed, 8,000 members strong.