First U.S. minority-owned three-screen cinema and entertainment venue opens in Harlem


The country's first minority-owned entertainment center to consist of a multiplex cinema, live performance venue and restaurant combined opened for business in New York City on November 30. Located on West 116th Street, between Lenox and Fifth Avenues, the $21 million, 20,000-square-foot MIST Harlem will give emerging and established black and Latino filmmakers, actors, and musicians from around the world a new home for their creativity.

"The opening of MIST Harlem is the culmination of a twenty-year dream to create a venue to feature the culture of the entire African and Latino diaspora," said Roland Laird, CEO and co-owner of the venue's operating firm My Image Studios LLC. "Without question the most enthusiasm has come from the film industry, particularly independent filmmakers. My partners and I made a significant investment in one 4K digital cinema projector and two 2K digital cinema projectors upgradable to 4K as well as top-quality sound equipment."

MIST Harlem is comprised of a 130-seat restaurant and three performance/cinema spaces which will present, on a seven-day-a-week schedule, the best in film, live music, spoken word and comedy. MIST will present art-house and indie films as well as Hollywood films that feature black and Latino actors or were made by black or Latino directors. Pre-opening film screenings included:

• Scenes from Sweet Dreams, a documentary about women in post-genocide Rwanda by Oscar and Emmy award-winning sibling filmmakers Lisa and Rob Fruchtman;
• A film industry screening of Middle of Nowhere, directed by Ava DuVernay, the first African-American woman to win best director at the Sundance Film Festival; and
• Premieres of the films Otelo Burning (directed by Sara Belcher, set in South Africa) and Elza (directed by French filmmaker Marette Monpierre in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe).

Otelo Burning and Elza began two-week runs at MIST Harlem on November 30 and the theatre will give critically acclaimed film The Loneliest Planet, starring Gael García Bernal, a one-week run starting on December 7.

MIST Harlem's restaurant Harvist has not yet opened and been named one of the most anticipated new restaurant openings by New York magazine, Time Out New York, and the New York Daily News.

MIST Harlem is housed in the first floor of the Kalahari, the 250-unit, award-winning, LEED Gold-certified condo. Harlem has undergone steep growth in the past dozen years with several thousands of new homes created bringing about a significant increase in average income of the area. Despite this, the historic neighborhood remains underserved by restaurants and entertainment so in this respect MIST is design to capitalize on the pent-up demand.

MIST Harlem will offer on-screen advertising as well as venue-wide integrated marketing opportunities. Additionally, the venue will launch a membership club that rewards frequent patronage while gathering data that can help craft new MIST Harlem marketing initiatives with brand partners.

Like the Kalahari condos, MIST Harlem was financed by the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.

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