OUR STORY, Bantam Cinema & Arts Center
Welcome to the Bantam Cinema & Arts Center, a non-profit film and arts center located in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut and the oldest continuously operated movie theater in Connecticut. (We refuse to let COVID take this designation away from us!)
The cinema first opened in 1929 as the Rivoli Theater, constructed by a local grocer, Domenico Evangelisti, after his son David purchased a projector from The Bantam Ball Bearing Company and began showing silent movies and vaudeville acts. Since then subsequent owners continued the legacy of the theater and it has become a beloved cultural center for residents and visitors of Northwest Connecticut.
In 2020, like all cinemas around the world, the cinema was forced to close its doors due to COVID-19 and the owners could no longer maintain the cinema. To preserve this important cultural and historic landmark, a group of local movie lovers acquired the property and established the non-profit cinema and arts center so that the theater’s legacy can continue.
In addition to continuing what the Bantam Cinema was well-known for -- independent films, high-quality mainstream films, and National Theater Live -- the Bantam Cinema & Arts Center will expand its programming with a focus on creating exciting experiences that will foster a sense of community. Programming will include guest speakers, discussion panels, theme-nights, film festivals, special film series, and other special events. By the end of 2022, Bantam Cinema & Arts Center hopes to also offer small live events such as music, comedy nights, and cabarets. In addition, there will be family and school opportunities to encourage a love for film and the arts in the younger generations. We aspire to promote Connecticut food and drink and offer local products that appeal to the palettes of its patrons, supporting local businesses, such as the Litchfield Distillery and local breweries.
While our revitalization efforts will focus on an enhanced business model with amazing, new experiences for our patrons, community support is needed to sustain the legacy of the theater. Donations will safeguard our historic theater and ensure that the Bantam Cinema & Arts Center can continue to innovate and offer entertainment and inspiration to the generations to come. Please visit our donation page to see how you can help us thrive as a well-loved, community arts and culture hub.