Big Screen: Return of the Grandview Theatre

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Just about this time last year, the departure of Drexel Theatres from their Grandview location was announced with a "For Lease" sign in the window.

In October 2008, the theater was taken over by David Nedrow and his wife, Jennifer Stancel. Originally, they planned to refurbish the vintage, single-screen cinema and reopen by January.

But the couple soon learned that it would take more than they expected to get the theater up to their standards of presentation. As Nedrow said on a recent visit, "Things just weren't in a condition to clean. It was going to take a lot more to make it nice."

Their financial and time investments grew substantially, but this weekend, the new proprietors of the Grandview Theatre will finally be ready to offer the public a look at their progress.

They'll open doors for three days to present an engagement of the Manhattan Short Film Festival, a touring festival that invites audiences to vote for their favorite of 10 short films selected from a pool of over 400 submissions worldwide.

Nedrow explained that renovations were guided mainly by surveying former customers to identify problems. The first priority was providing wheelchair access to the auditorium and restrooms. New projection equipment, including a digital sound system, will also provide access to audio descriptions and closed-captioning.

As of last Friday, the concession stand hadn't been installed yet and the theater's seats were still out being re-padded and upholstered, but Nedrow promised there will be snacks and seating available for the opening.

The bathrooms and lobby have already been painted light gray and silver, reflecting the neutral color scheme the cinema will ultimately have (programmable LED lights will lend a pop of color).

Inside the theater, the walls will eventually be covered with acoustical fabric, but for now Nedrow has left exposed the stenciled wall art from its original 1920s decor, which he found hiding under some curtains.

After Manhattan Short moves on, Nedrow and Stancel will continue renovations to prepare for another special event Oct. 17-18, a 24-hour edition of the annual horror feast The Incredible Two-Headed Marathon. Then they'll open for regular programming on Nov. 6.

As for what that'll be, Nedrow described a mix of independent, foreign and classic films, with an emphasis on movies that might not screen in Columbus. He hopes to find a workable niche within the city's art-house market, while trying to avoid overlapping with the Drexel, Landmark's Gateway and the Wexner Center.

"I've got a whole folder of films that I'm looking at," he said.

For more movie news and reviews, click to The Bad and The Beautiful blog

What: Manhattan Short Film Festival

When: Friday-Sunday, Sept. 25-27

Where: Grandview Theatre, Grandview