A group of dedicated, successful and visionary local citizens formed a new non-profit foundation called the Lamorinda Film & Entertainment Foundation (LFEF). This non-profit local group has worked since 2004 to either purchase the theatre with donated funds or find an operator who would work closely with the community to keep the theatre in operation. However, with the current economic climate and the change in ownership in theatre square the purchase option was not viable.
However, LFEF was an integral part of supporting Rheem Theater, LLC, owned by partners Jim Sheehan and Tom Peterson, as the new operator of the Orinda Theatre. They began operations on May 1, 2009
In an effort to better support the community, Rheem Theater inked a deal with LFEF to provide at least two of the three screens to the foundation for a minimum of twenty-one (21) days per year for community events. Rheem Theater continues to operate the theater on an ongoing basis as a commercial venture. Rheem Theater and LFEF will jointly look for opportunities to promote the theater as the cornerstone of downtown Orinda activity.
LFEF believes its effort to revitalize the Orinda Theatre and Annex will be a catalyst in helping the City of Orinda realize its goal to preserve the Orinda Theatre as an historic structure, a local and regional landmark as well as enhance the economic vitality of downtown Orinda and its associated contribution to the City’s tax base.
As a reflection of its contract with the management of the Orinda Theatre, LFEF continues to establish, operate and maintain a new programming methodology for the theater. While LFEF encourages and supports the management of the Orinda Theatre to continue to show first run commercial family-oriented studio films, LFEF will support film and entertainment events, foreign, art film and independent cinema, film festivals and festival like events, occasional live entertainment and community sponsored events to maximize the theatre’s attendance.
LFEF has access to two screens for twenty-one days per year for these events. Non-profit groups wishing to use the Orinda Theatre for special events, should contact LFEF, P.O. Box 2294, Orinda, CA 94563 or www.lfef.org for available dates and rates.
Programming Changes Include:
- Host one or more film festival per year, i.e. The California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF), The Contra Costa Jewish Film Festival as well as serve as an East Bay extension of the larger San Francisco based themed film festivals.
- Host a program of retrospectives, complete with “movietone news” reels of the day (available from ABC news archives). Many of these programs would include inviting the filmmakers, actors, etc to a Q&A, following their film as we did with the screening of “The Birds” with Tippi Hedren attending.
- Showcase “a first look’ at younger students and emerging filmmaker’s works.
- Showcase series of short programs.
- Cater to specific groups, i.e. Foreign Film lovers, Seniors, young children, independent film lovers, film noir lovers, teens and college age locals.
- Showcase late night cult movies. 11:00 pm Saturday night showing of some cult favorites such as Rocky Horror or Harold and Maude.
- Showcase theme movies, such as Napoleon Dynamite and coming in costume with prizes awarded.
- Host a Saturday morning or afternoon program for kids (like the old serial movies of yesteryear).
- Host a late night edgy program for college and/or high school students.
- Host live acts such as music, bands, concerts, singers, variety shows, comedy acts and live theater.
- Broadcast live events such as major sporting events or award shows like the Oscars, music videos, MTV, or podcasts.
- Form alliances and associations with other independent theatres, such as the Castro, etc to expand their retrospective programming and to expand blockbuster film venues.
- Host local filmmaking competitions.
- Host local community sponsored events, i.e. Orinda Idol, lecture series, political campaigns, local church activities, or Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
LFEF has already brought the following events to Orinda:
California Independent Film Festival Film Series (www.caiff.org)
California Independent Film Festival (www.caiff.org)
Orinda Chamber Comedy Night (www.orindachamber.org)
Orinda Idol (www.orindaartscouncil.org)