Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI) is a nonprofit, member-supported motion picture theater and film education center located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. BMFI is dedicated to promoting shared experiences that entertain, engage, and educate audiences through a diverse range of independent-minded films, a full curriculum of courses, and an extensive program of special events.
BMFI builds community through film culture, while maintaining strong connections to its historic venue's cinematic past. BMFI has over 8,000 members, among the largest membership of any such theater in the country, who enjoy a range of benefits offered by several membership levels. Except for a few programs limited to members, all BMFI screening, courses, and events are open to the public.
BMFI has a more varied program of first-run, independent, international, repertory, and alternative film offerings than any theater in the region. Nearly 4,000 patrons visit BMFI each week for films, classes, and events.
BMFI's film programming is anchored by first-run films shown daily in four state-of-the-art theaters with a combined capacity of 854. Additional staff-curated weekly screenings include Cinema Select offerings of new and repertory films of particular note and Film Series exploring a filmmaker, genre, or subject in depth. These screenings often include an introduction, Q&A, or discussion with a film professional associated with the film. Stage on Screen features filmed performing arts, such as the National Theatre London, ballet from world-renowned companies, and operas from revered international venues. For a balanced repertoire, BMFI also hosts frequent sell-out sing-alongs, and Kids Matinees to cultivate a new generation of theater-goers.
Although fully equipped for digital projection, BMFI is committed to retaining the ability to show standard and rare 35mm film prints, particularly now that the number of theaters able to do so is dwindling.
BMFI is the only suburban Philadelphia venue for Talk Cinema, which offers subscribers a unique selection of quality films independently curated by film critic Harlan Jacobson, a 30-year industry veteran, to preview before the theatrical release. Screenings are followed by discussions led by scholars, critics, and filmmakers.
BMFI educational programs serve over 1,000 adults per year. A robust, in-house film education department offers month-long courses, semester-long seminars on film history, and one-time seminars on a specific film or director.
In 2005, BMFI launched the Barrie Ford Film Education program which presents the See, Hear, Feel Film curriculum developed at the Jacob Burns Film Center, to third-grade students in the Delaware Valley. The program has grown since its inception and now an average of 800 school children enjoy the program annually. Additionally, BMFI serves junior high, senior high, and college students through a variety of film literacy and appreciation curricula including the 12-week Summer Filmmaking Workshop where high school students write, film, edit, and finally exhibit at a BMFI premiere, a collective original production.
BMFI is also home to the George Rehrauer Collection of film books, a gift from the Haverford School, in our Film Studies Library. This collection of over 2,000 books is available for loan to Bryn Mawr Film Institute members.
On the first Monday of every month, BMFI holds Open Screen Mondays, a chance for area filmmakers to screen their films and works-in-progress on the big screen and engage in peer critiques, free of charge.
In 2013, BMFI held the first Silver Screen Inspiration Short Film Contest, inviting filmmakers to submit short films inspired by a select list of classic films. Over 250 filmmakers from around the world submitted work to compete for the four cash prizes.
Special guests, from local artists to international celebrities, come to speak at BMFI. Director David Lynch engaged a sold-out audience with prompts from board member and film critic Carrie Rickey; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs invited the audience to join her conversation with BMFI board member (and Ms. Isaac's former colleague at Paramount Studios) John Hersker; Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley has a long-standing patronage of BMFI beginning with the ribbon cutting that opened the institute in 2005.
Our audiences are equally welcoming to up-and-coming talent like director Vicky Vasilopoulos and her film Men of the Cloth, an acclaimed documentary with local ties. About 40 such film-related guest visit BMFI each year.