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Film group partners with Columbia Club

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

The Paducah Film Society and the Columbia Club have announced a partnership that will bring an additional screen to downtown Paducah, allowing for expanded film programming and a new regional venue for live music.

The collaboration will solve some of the limitations that burden the single-screen Maiden Alley Cinema, providing a second home to the Paducah Film Society while retaining the organization's current location at 112 Maiden Alley, said Landee Bryant-Greene, Maiden Alley Cinema's executive director and co-chairwoman of the Columbia Club.

"In a community where there is always something going on, many are going to miss a film that only plays for one weekend. Additional screens will allow films to stay in the region for weeks at a time. It will also allow for more documentary films, private events and alternate programming," she said.

Bryant-Greene added that Maiden Alley Cinema shares a space with two other nonprofits, which limits its hours to after 5 p.m. on weekdays and after 4 p.m. on weekends and constrains educational partnerships and matinee programming.

The ongoing restoration of the historic space has generated buzz, but also confusion in the community, with many asking whether a renovated Columbia Theater will hurt Paducah's 12-year-old art house cinema, said Darlene Mazzone, another Columbia Club co-chairwoman.

"We do want people to understand that no, this is not going to hurt (Maiden Alley Cinema)," she said. "This is a win-win on so many levels, to get this fabulous building restored and to get more people downtown and doing things."

The Columbia Theater was built in 1927 and closed its doors in 1989. The Columbia Club, a 501(c)3 that purchased the building from the city for $1, aims to open the fully renovated art house by 2017. The planned $5.8 million renovation would allow for a 250-seat main auditorium and a mezzanine that would be split into two screening areas, one with 114 seats, the other with 140.

The club is formulating a business plan and has contracted with historic theater consultant Susan Palmer of the Palmer Westport Group to help this September.

"The most important element (of) this entire project is restoring this magnificent art palace back to its original grandeur," Bryant-Greene said. "Film touches everyone in some way."

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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