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Help Save CINEMA NOLITA: Benefits This Weekend

As New York’s video stores close, one by one, we mourn the loss of a precious resource: community clubhouses, libraries for cinephiles. But even more deeply felt (by me) has been the slow extinction of the Video Store Guy, that special breed of snarky, slouchy smarty-pants I always hoped I would marry. The Video Store Guy has been well-documented and thoroughly dramatized (see Nicole Holofcener’s Walking and Talking, in which Kevin Corrigan embodies the Video Store Guy prototype, and the list goes on). But what of the Video Store Girl? Not an easy target for caricature, but you’ll know her when you see her. She’s a down-ass chick who can crack a dirty joke but also smooth-talk a meiser into paying his late fees—and checking out ten more titles. I tried really hard to become a Video Store Girl in the tenth grade (Mr. Video III in Brooklyn Heights! It’s still there!) but I quit after three weeks because the hazing period involved shelving porn and being kept from the checkout counter. I didn’t have the chops.

Eleonore Hendricks, on the other hand, is the best Video Store Girl ever. She embodies all the aforementioned qualities, and she’s committed to the cause. For almost two years, Eleonore (who you may recognize from her diverse and dynamic acting resume, most notably The Pleasure of Being Robbed) has manned the register at Cinema Nolita. Cinema Nolita is an independent video shop located at 178 Mulberry Street. In its seven year history, Cinema Nolita has had some very good Video Store Girls, including filmmakers Jessica Oreck (Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo) and Sara Rossein. Also, some good Video Store Boys. More on that later. In addition to its great taste in employees, Cinema Nolita boasts a comprehensive collection of independent and foreign titles, and has played host to homegrown events, including the Hammer To Nail Screening Series.

But now, Cinema Nolita needs our help. Despite its loyal following, times are tough and the shop owes eight grand in back rent. It seemed, for a time, that owner Michael Mosley would be forced to sell his collection off piece by piece in order to pay back the debt. But Eleonore wasn’t having it, and neither was the neighborhood, so this coming weekend is a veritable San Gennaro fair of aid events. “Really, our first idea was to just make sure that we didn’t have to sell the collection off individually, to make back the money we had lost by not being able to pay the rent,” says Eleonore. “The goal is to make the 8,000 dollars so we can pay our back rent so we don’t have to use the videos as collateral. Once we have that back rent, we have various ideas about how to keep Cinema Nolita as a neighborhood presence.”

It all kicks off Saturday, August 15th at 10pm, when Nolita resident (and Cinema Nolita member) Abel Ferrara will appear in person at Anthology Film Archives to screen his demented classic Bad Lieutenant. It’s a great time to revisit the film, considering Werner Herzog is about to unleash his reimagining. All proceeds from the $15 dollar ticket will go toward the cause: Save Cinema Nolita!

Sunday, August 16th, Ferrara will be back at Anthology at 10 pm, screening a 35mm print of 2007’s little-seen Go Go Tales, starring Willem Defoe, Matthew Modine and Asia Argento. Also $15 dollars, and also benefiting Cinema Nolita.

***UPDATE: In typical Abel fashion, it turns out that the Go Go Tales screening might not be happening after all. Trying to keep up with this unfolding drama might make us think we’ve been teleported into our own horror film called Being Abel Ferrara, so for sanity’s sake we’ll simply try to post a definitive yay or nay closer to Sunday night or when we find out for sure. Thanks for playing, everyone!***

“Abel uses the video store as his library,” says Eleonore. “He’s been such an advocate of saving the shop, and he said, ‘Anything I can do to help in any way. We’ve gotta save this shop, you know, man, we’ve gotta save it.’” She admits Ferrara has been known to keep films out well past their due date, but “by doing these screenings he’s essentially paying his late fees.”

Monday, August 17th, Santos Party House opens its doors for a musical fundraiser that will feature performances by The Virgins, The Beets, and a special DJ set by Animal Collective. The $20 dollar cover charge seems a pittance for so much sonic goodness, and guess what? It all benefits Cinema Nolita.

So how did Eleonore secure such a lineup? “[Virgins frontman] Donald worked at the shop a long time ago,” says Eleonore. “He’d get yelled at for having friends around. I think he was fired three times. But it was only natural that with his new place as a rock star in this world he could somehow help us out and he was more than willing to play a free show.”

Meanwhile, Animal Collective’s Avey Tare (aka David Portner) “is a regular member at the video shop and I sort of snooped around the computer and called him up and he was cool about it too. No questions asked, of course.”

Be Kind Rewind was a charming flick, but Eleonore’s efforts to save the shop seem much more practical than sweding, and more fun than Jack Black in a dress. “It’s definitely a needed amenity for the community,” she says. “It’s not big. It’s not Kim’s. Its little and it’s a microcosm of this neighborhood.”

— Lena Dunham

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Lena Dunham was born New York City in 1986 and she's still there. She left briefly to attend Oberlin College (she graduated in 2008 with a degree in creative writing). She has worked as a dog groomer, comedienne, babysitter, hostess, and contributor to adolescent girl magazines like Seventeen and Teen Vogue. She is known as the creator, writer, and star of the HBO television series Girls (2012–2017). Prior to Girls, Dunham wrote, directed, and starred in the semi-autobiographical independent film Tiny Furniture (2010).

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