For more than a decade, a/perture cinema has been the premier destination for independent and arthouse cinema in Winston-Salem. Nestled in the heart of the downtown district, within walking distance of any number of restaurants, it can be safely said that a/perture has woven its way into the hearts of Winton-Salem's vast array of film fans as well.

But, like so many businesses here and throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a/perture to close its doors. Yet, during that 14-month hiatus, a/perture continued to offer entertainment for the faithful film-goer, both in virtual and outdoor, socially-distanced screenings.

In mid-May, with the ease of restrictions by Gov. Roy Cooper, a/perture re-opened its doors, operating Wednesdays through Sundays, initially at 60% seating capacity. Those who have been fully vaccinated are no longer required to wear masks, although those who haven't are still required to wear them.

If there's one word that aptly describes a/perture cinema and the other area businesses that have managed to weather this unexpected storm, it's “resilience,” according to a/perture executive director and curator Lawren Desai.

A/perture cinema was hardly idle during the pandemic, having implemented other viewing options, as have other theaters throughout the nation, and indeed the world.

“Over the course of the pandemic and 14 months of closure, virtual cinema was a great way to continue to offer all of the programming we would have done in-theater,” Desai said. “We showcased over 200 films from all over the globe, but in terms of the revue the results were maybe only 1/12th of what we would have done in the theater. That's why we were so reliant on government, state, and local grants – as well as the support of our wonderful donors – to help us make it to the other side.”

Desai admitted that the experience of actually going to a theater to see a movie remains the preferred method of many a film-goer. “I think after awhile people were less and less interested in virtual cinema so we definitely saw a drop in numbers we entered the 10th-12th month of closure, with the exception of the Oscar Shorts and Oscar-nominated films like Minari and The Father,” said Desai. “Those were pretty successful.”

As film-going returns to normalcy, “we are still offering a virtual title or two each week, but that might continue to slow down as more and more people come back inside,” she said.

The pandemic forced a/perture to present outdoor screenings, and that trend may well continue, Desai said. “We have an entire, new 24-foot outdoor screen set-up and we are taking that around town for screenings and continuing to look for places and partners.” For more information, see https://aperturecinema.com/a-mobile/.

One of the most popular a/perture events each year is the Cat Video Fest, a compilation of the latest and best cat videos taken from countless submissions, sourced animations, music videos, and classic internet powerhoises. This year's screening will take place 8:15 pm July 31 (rain date Aug. 7) outdoors at Foothills Tasting Room, 3800 Kimwell Drive, Winston-Salem. The grounds will be opened at 7 pm, and attendees are advised to bring blankets and chairs.

In addition to providing laughs and entertainment for fans of felines, it also helps a good cause, as $1.50 from each ticket sold will be donated to Forgotten Felines of Forsyth.

For more information about this screening, or to purchase advance tickets, visit https://aperturecinema.com/movies/cat-video-festival-2021/.

During these tumultuous times, “our faithful really have been faithful,” Desai said. “Some still are waiting to return when they feel more comfortable, while others have seen everything we've played. We also have seen a ton of new faces which is really exciting to me and leaves me optimistic for the future of cinema-going

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