Little Theatre

Which films are on your summer movie list? From "In the Heights" to "The Green Knight" to "Space Jam: A New Legacy with LeBron James," movie buffs have a lot to choose from in the coming months.

Our guests this hour preview this summer's films and discuss how movie theaters have weathered the pandemic. Our guests:


A second downtown Rochester film theater has announced a pandemic-cautious reopening for April.

The Dryden Theatre opens its doors on April 2. It joins The Little Theatre, which earlier this week announced it will reopen on April 16. During the pandemic, both theaters have been presenting films online.

The Cinema Theater in Rochester announced Thursday that it is closing its doors...at least for now. Movie theaters across the country are navigating restrictions, including films being streamed on digital platforms, rather than screened in brick-and-mortar spaces. What does it mean for the future of movie theaters?

Our guests discuss it:

How about a little music? "HomeStage at the Little" is a new concert series produced by WXXI and the Little Theatre. The pandemic has changed the landscape for local artists, but the series gives them an opportunity to perform live sessions (audience-free) that can be watched by the community. The episodes include music, interviews, and more.

We preview the series with some of the artists:

A documentary called “Slay the Dragon” takes on the issue of gerrymandering and its impact on elections and social issues. From the Flint water crisis, the bathroom bills, and more, the film explores how elected officials can control political outcomes by redrawing district maps. The film tells the story of citizen groups in two different states that challenge the issue and their fight to protect democratic principles.

The film will be screened at the Little Theatre next week as part of the One Take Documentary Series, but first, we preview it on Connections. Our guests:

  • Tim Kneeland, chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Nazareth College
  • Linda Moroney, filmmaker, and director and programmer for the One Take Documentary Film Series
  • Katie Fahey, founder of the citizen action group, Voters Not Politicians
  • Chris Durrance, co-director of “Slay the Dragon”

Dresden Engle/High Falls Women's Film Festival

Longtime local film critic Jack Garner was honored at the High Falls Women’s Film Festival at The Little Theatre on Saturday night.

He received the Rochester Film Legacy Award which honors a filmmaker or film supporter based in the Rochester area whose passion and dedication embodies Rochester’s proud film legacy.

Garner, who began reviewing films for the Democrat & Chronicle in 1977, is also a dedicated supporter of the High Falls Women’s Film Festival.

Scott Pukos / WXXI


The Little Theatre on East Avenue in Rochester kicked off a year-long celebration of its 90th birthday  Thursday night with cake of course, but also with beer….and it was a special beer created by Rohrbach Brewing with the help of staffers at The Little.

It’s called the House of Silent Shadows Prohibition Porter, and the theater’s publicity coordinator, Scott Pukos, says it hearkens back to the prohibition era which was going on when The Little opened in 1929.

How can brick and mortar movie theaters maintain and grow audiences in the digital age? 

We sit down with teams at the Cinema Theater and the Little Theatre to discuss how they handle competition from Netflix and other platforms, and what they see for the future of their industry. In studio:

  • Scott Pukos, public relations coordinator for the Little Theatre
  • Bri Merkel, artistic director for the Little Theatre
  • Alex Chernavsky, co-owner of the Cinema Theater
  • Audrey Chernavsky, co-owner of the Cinema Theater
  • Frances Andreu, member of the Cinema Theater's advisory board
  • Johannes Bockwoldt, member of the Cinema Theater's advisory board

The documentary “Don’t Be Nice” tells the story of five slam poets from New York City who have teamed up to compete for a national title. Their coach encourages them to push past the entertainment value of the form and write and speak from a place of vulnerability, confronting painful issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and identity.

The film will be screened as part of the Black Cinema Series at the Little Theatre on Friday. We preview the film with its director and local slam poets who share their process. Our guests:

A documentary called "Back to Natural" explores the relationship between politics, hair, and racial identity in black communities. It will be screened later this week at The Little Theatre as part of the Black Cinema Series.

The film’s director, a clinical psychologist, says her documentary is a call for healing in a society that polices black hair. She joins us to preview the film and discuss the natural hair movement and its history with our guests:

  • Gillian Scott-Ward, Ph.D., director of “Back to Natural”
  • Reenah Golden, founder and artistic director of The Avenue Blackbox Theatre, host of the Goddess Hour on WAYO FM, and co-creator of Kuumba Consultants 
  • Kaci Jones, reporter at News10NBC, and member of the Rochester Association of Black Journalists
  • Ericka Wilson, producer at News10NBC, and treasurer of the Rochester Association of Black Journalists