For nearly 45 years, Rice Cinema has screened films from around the world – foreign features, shorts, documentaries and animation. Internationally known filmmakers who have appeared at the cinema over the years include Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Andy Warhol, Dennis Hopper, Roberto Rossellini and Milos Forman.
Now, the Rice Media Center’s screening facility is receiving a state-of-the-art upgrade. The cinema will close this summer for the installation of a high-quality digital cinema projection system. The center received university capital budget improvement funds to purchase the projector.
“Basically every theater in the world is in the process of converting to this system or going out of business,” said Charles Dove, director of Rice Cinema, professor in the practice and film program director in the School of Humanities’ Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts. “There are not a lot of other options. It’s a computer-driven projection system. There’s no physical film; there’s no disk of any kind.”
The new projector will be installed alongside the existing 16- and 35-millimeter projectors and play a critical role in sustaining and expanding the cinema’s mission in an age where films on reels are soon to be archaic, Dove said.
In addition to reaching beyond the university’s hedges to the diverse communities of Houston and providing an alternative to the commercial cinema of Hollywood, Rice Cinema works closely with Rice’s academic programs to enrich students’ undergraduate experience. Film studies students are able to examine and study the historical and methodological aspects of movies from around the world in Dolby Digital sound, while film production students can showcase their work on the cinema’s silver screen.
“Most importantly, our students will be able to film in digital, edit in digital and project in digital, and all in high definition,” Dove said. “We’ll have a continuous workflow for the students.”
As part of the project, the cinema will also receive a fresh paint job and new microphones, Dove said. The new project is expected to be completed by the beginning of the fall semester.