- Renee Tsao, Jamie Shor, and Josh Levin (l-r) of the West End Cinema. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
The West End Cinema does not look like a business that's scheduled to open in two days. The foam insulation lining the walls of its three theaters remains exposed. Where the concession stand should be, there's a ladder and assorted construction gear instead. And the screens themselves are nowhere in sight.
And yet. The seats for two of the theaters are fixed in place (the third theater has flexible seating). The beer taps — for Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde, Hoegaarden Original White Ale — have been screwed in. The striped carpeting is down, and the posters for this Friday's opening films are up: political documentary Gerrymandering; Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl, starring James Franco; and Budrus, a doc about a West Bank village in the construction path of Israel's separation barrier.
So it's not impossible to imagine the West End Cinema being ready in time for Friday's grand opening — just improbable. Then again, it's improbable enough that co-founders Jamie Shor and Josh Levin are opening an art-house cinema in D.C., which tends to lose movie theaters rather than gain them. If Shor and Levin, plus director of programming Renee Tsao, are brave enough to screen independent, foreign, and classic films in this town, I'm sure they'll find a way to complete renovations by Friday afternoon. As for hanging a marquee outside, though, Levin says, "We're working on a permanent solution. Getting signage in D.C. is a multi-step process."