Black Latina theater owner projects vision of creative inclusion

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GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN — Affordable, community-driven, and inclusive, Stuart Cinema and Cafe is the first Black Latina-owned movie theater in New York committed to making films accessible to all.

As a filmmaker herself, owner Evelyn Stuart was frustrated with the hurdle of getting distribution for her films.

Upon being told there was no audience for her films, Stuart decided to break the barriers.

“Somebody said, ‘You would have to build your own movie theater to be able to do that,’ and so here we are,” Stuart said.

Stuart Cinema hosts new releases, filmmaker activities, private screenings and film festivals for independent filmmakers.

“All communities are filled with artists that are just looking for a space to get started and Stewart’s cinema provides that,” Stuart said.

The theater’s affordability has made it a home for local film festivals and filmmakers seeking accessible venues.

“All the small local film festivals are usually here because we’re affordable because it’s owned by a filmmaker who understands,” Stuart said. “No longer do you have to wait for someone to give you permission.”

Paving the way for others, Stuart’s achievements are an inspiration for aspiring filmmakers and independent business owners.

“I’m the first Black Latina to own a movie theater and what I can say is that the journey has been difficult. But people to see people like themselves doing things is important. And I tell people all the time, if you really want to do something, you can do it,” Stuart said.

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