Best Video takes first reopening step

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is taking the first step towards reopening!

In our initial phase, we are geared towards making our film archive available again for our members who have the monthly and annual plans. To reduce risk to our members and to our staff, we will not be processing any in-person cash or card transactions. (Our cafe is still closed. We hope to open for curbside service in the near future and will post updates when that occurs.)

This is how it will work initially and what the hours will be for picking up DVDs:

CURBSIDE PICKUP ONLY • For now, patrons will not be allowed in the premises to browse. We recognize that browsing is one of the signature joys of the Best Video experience and we look forward to when that will be possible again. But at this point, we believe safety dictates that we deliver our movies curbside rather than having our friends inside.

EMAIL YOUR REQUESTS • Email your requests to us at This will be an email address dedicated specifically to requests/orders. You may call in requests (203-287-9286) but—because we don’t have voicemail—you will only reach us when we are open.

DAYS & HOURS WE WILL BE OPEN • Because of staff limitations and just out of caution our initial hours and days will be limited. We will be open for pick-up Thursday-Sunday from 4-8 PM.

YOUR MEMBERSHIP PRIVILEGES DOUBLED! • For at least the next two months, members with monthly or annual plans will be able to take out double the number of titles to which your plan would normally entitle you. So 1-Movie Plan members may have two out at a time, 2-Movie Plan members may take four, and 4-Movie Plan members may take eight. In order to be fair to all members and ensure circulation of new releases, those titles from the “New Releases” section will be limited to the number of movies your plan would normally allow (1, 2, or 4). Please return those in a timely fashion.

GETTING YOU YOUR MOVIES SAFELY • Our staff will be wearing gloves and masks. We had the interior space cleaned professionally on Tuesday. When we gather your order, we will clean the cases and discs off with disinfectant cleaner and put them in paper bags with your name on them. When you arrive, you can call us to let us know you are here (and what car you are in) or come to the door and give your name. PLEASE: If you come to the door, make sure to wear a mask and maintain a safe social distance of 6-8 feet from anyone else. We will set a small table—which will be cleaned regularly—outside on which to place bags to be picked up if it doesn’t work for them to be put directly in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle.

HOW CAN YOU CHOOSE YOUR MOVIES? • You can search our film archive database by title on our Web site. Unfortunately, the online list has not been updated since 2014. We are currently working to get it up to date with all the titles we have on DVD and Blu-Ray and hopefully that will occur within the next few days. You can, of course, request movies made since 2014 and we will likely have them as part of our archive. Click here to go to the searchable (and downloadable) online list.

RETURNS • Returns can be put in the red drop box outside our front door (or at the Willow Street or Lyric Hall drop boxes; the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Yale may be currently inaccessible). We will have dedicated bins inside by day of return to which returned titles will be put first. After three days, they will be cleaned and returned to the shelf.

DON’T HAVE A MONTHLY OR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP? • Now is a great time to become one of the hundreds of households in the greater New Haven area who support Best Video Film & Cultural Center—and get inexpensive access to our incredible archive—by becoming a monthly or annual member. The 1-Movie, 2-Movie, and 4-Movie plans (remember, you can access double that for the next two months) are respectively, $10, $20, or $30 per month in recurring charges. If you pay for a full year at once, you take 10% off ($108, $216, $324). You can join by clicking here.

We look forward to seeing our friends again soon—albeit behind masks and at a safe distance! We hope you are all well and staying safe and let’s keep it that way!

Thanks to our supporters for an overwhelmingly successful 2020 Great Give!

We at Best Video Film & Cultural Center wish to express our deepest appreciation to the community for the tremendous outpouring of support we received in this past week’s Great Give. The generosity of the greater New Haven community—not just towards us but to hundreds of other organizations as well—is remarkable, particularly considering the struggles so many people are having.

Between the direct donations we received through The Great Give, the $3,000 we won in prizes for having the third highest number of peer-to-peer fundraisers who raised $200 or more, the approximately $3,000 in matching funds we got from the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Bank of America, and the donations made directly to BVFCC through checks or our Web site, we raised more than $50,000.

That is almost double what we have raised in any previous Great Give. And we had considered those Great Gives to be successful.

Out of 398 organizations, we finished 12th in amount raised and a stunning 2nd place in number of unique individual donors. Clearly, our mission of “Bringing film, music, and people together” touches a powerful chord in a time of self-isolation and social distance.

At a time when our income stream has been drastically cut back due to the temporary closure, those funds will provide an invaluable lifeline and bridge to our return to fully serving the community that we embrace and that has embraced us in return.

Thanks to all who gave, who spread the word, who participated as fundraisers, who wished us well, and thanks also to The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven for its superb job organizing The Great Give. We look forward to hopefully seeing you soon as the state takes the initial steps to reopening. In the meantime, please stay safe.

The Resch Family Fund’s “You’ve Got Friends” 40 Fundraising Champions Challenge


While advance giving began on April 6, the heart of The Great Give® begins in earnest this Tuesday, May 5, at 8 AM. The 36-hour online fundraising marathon—coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to support hundreds of area non-profits—continues through Wednesday, May 6, at 8 PM.

The Great Give® is Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s most important fundraiser of the year and, with the loss of income due to our temporary, pandemic-mandated closure, it take on even more importance in 2020.

What are some ways you can maximize the impact of your best gift to BVFCC in The Great Give®?


The Resch Family will make a matching donation of $2,000 if 40 (or more) Fundraising Champions each raise $200 before 8pm on Wednesday May 6th. Reaching that goal enhances our chances of winning up to $5,000 in additional prize money for Best Video. Are you up for the challenge?

Become a Fundraising Champion by clicking the “Fundraising” button (see photo) on the Best Video Film and Cultural Center Great Give page or make a donation via a BVFCC Fundraising Champion who you know.

If becoming a fundraiser is a stretch for you or outside your comfort zone, there is another way you can raise the impact of any donation you might make—by going through the list of “fundraising champions” on the right side of our Great Give® page and donating through the page of one who hasn’t yet reached the $200 benchmark.



Want to make your donation go even farther? Of course you do!

Make your donation through one of our “Fundraising Champions” (see information above) between 8 and 9 AM on Tuesday, May 5, or Wednesday, May 6. The more donations we get during those time frames, the better our chance of winning an additional $1,000 prize.

The Rabbi Herb & Elin Brockman May 5 Early Bird Match Challenge:

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is the appreciative beneficiary of a $500 match from Rabbi Herb and Elin Brockman. The Brockmans will match up to $50 of every donation up to $500 for the hour of 8-9 AM on May 5. Make your donation dollars go farther by donating during the Early Bird time frame on May 5th!

The May 6 Early Bird Match Challenge:

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is the appreciative beneficiary of a $500 match from an anonymous donor. The donor will match up to $50 of every donation up to $500 for the hour of 8-9 AM on May 6. Make your donation dollars go farther by donating during the Early Bird time frame on May 6th!

Support Best Video in The Great Give, May 5-6; advance giving has already begun!

Can you pledge to donate? Email us to let us know—details below!

The Great Give®—an annual 36-hour online fundraising marathon coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven in the first week of May—is Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s most important fundraiser. Given the ongoing expenses we are incurring (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.) while having much of our daily income stream cut off, The Great Give® is more important than ever this year.


The Great Give® runs from May 5-May 6, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Advance giving for The Great Give® began April 6, 2020. We recognize times are difficult for many people—your best gift can to help us continue to bring film, music, and people together.

We need your help! Please join our campaign and help us raise the money necessary to continue—and expand—our programming and preserve—and expand!—our incredible film archive! We need you to tell your friends and family members about the value we have for the community and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.


Our intention—before we had to temporarily close our premises—had been to collect names, email address, and cell numbers on a pledge sign-up sheet so we could text supporters when the event was under way. If you want to pledge to donate—you needn’t say how much although it does have to be $5 or more—you can email us your info at info [AT] Put “pledge” in the subject line.


Donating is great! But if you want to help us even more, become one of our fundraisers and let your friends and family know how important you feel Best Video is to you and the community. The more fundraisers we have, the better our chance of winning additional thousands of dollars in prize money.

Just go to our Great Give® page and click the “Fundraise” button right next to the “Donate” button. It will ask for your name, email address, and to create a password. When you press “Submit,” you have created YOUR page, which you can share on social media and emails.

It’s fun! It’s competitive! Rally your friends and family to support a local cultural icon.

Although it isn’t necessary, you can customize your page by clicking on “Toolkit” on your fundraiser page. At the top of your “Toolkit” is an option to “Tell your story.” Opening that allows you to put in a picture of yourself, personalize the text on your fundraising page, and put in an image that relates to the reasons why you support Best Video. (If you need help customizing your page, contact us at info [AT]

Join us at the virtual video counter with our series “A Favorite Movie”: Best Video staff & friends make recommendations

One of the great things about Best Video Film & Cultural Center is exchanging recommendations about movies. While BVFCC is temporarily closed to support social distancing during the pandemic, we decided to solicit movie recommendations from staff and friends.

The premise of the series is “A Favorite Movie,” not necessarily “The” favorite movie of contributors. Members, friends, and supporters of Best Video Film & Cultural Center talk about movies they like—and why they like them.

Here are the contributions to date, starting with Best Video founder and original owner Hank Paper, talking about the Argentinian film “The Last Suit”:

Here’s composer and singer Brian Robinson talking up his un-ironic affection for “Hudson Hawk”:

Neal Damiano likes “Valley Girl,” featuring Nicolas Cage’s first starring role:

Best Video staffer Mike Wheatley recommends “Galaxy Quest” as both a great comedy and great sci-fi film for the family:

New Haven Independent arts editor and musician Brian Slattery hymns the virtues of Spanish director Julio Medem’s “Lovers of the Arctic Circle”:

Documentary filmmaker, musician, and DJ contributes with a paean to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul”:

BVFCC member Kevin Munley and his son Yan Patrick have a special place in their heart for Star Wars Episode V aka “The Empire Strikes Back”:

Storyteller, writer, screenwriter, and educator Saul Fussiner praises “Bottle Rocket,” director Wes Anderson’s feature debut:

BVFCC member and Institute Library Operations Manager Eva Geertz picks a Coen Brothers dark horse, “Intolerable Cruelty,” for her choice:

Writer, musician, and pie-maker Val McKee offers up an appreciation of the 1985 film “Fandango”:

Enjoy music from Best Video Film & Cultural Center on our YouTube channel!

While most of us are social distancing, Best Video Film & Cultural Center is taking this opportunity to share wonderful musical moments from shows here on YouTube. These are videos shot be Executive Director Hank Hoffman over the past several years and are chosen to showcase the diversity of music that we present.

We created the Best Video Film & Cultural Center YouTube channel in December and have posted six videos so far with many more to come. Subscribe to the channel to get notified when new videos are uploaded.

For our first video, we posted a tune by Tariku, a local offshoot of the NYC-based Mandingo Ambassadors. Tariku is fronted by Aaron Latham Greenberg and features the great Guinean guitarist Mamady Kouyate. Frank Brocklehurst is on bass, Matt Dean is on percussion, and Dylan McDonnell plays flute. This was from an August, 2019 show.

The next video features New Haven rock ‘n’ roll legends The Furors playing their song “Twistin’ In the Wind” on may 11, 2017. The Furors are Derek Holcomb on guitar and Tom Dans on drums. They have been playing the New Haven area since the late 1970s.

Afro-soul dynamo Thabisa graced our stage on July 25, 2019, accompanied by Lamar Smith (guitar), Sam Oliver (drums), Jim Lawson (bass), and Timothy Kane (trumpet). This is Thabisa’s song “Ndithanda Wena.”

The Tony Purrone Trio—led by internationally known jazz guitarist Tony Purrone—plays his original tune “Lost and Found” at Best Video Film & Cultural Center in Hamden, CT December 19, 2019. Accompanying Tony Purrone are Preston Murphy on upright bass and Ray Marchica on drums.

Americana/country band Plywood Cowboy play the song “Stray” at Best Video Film & Cultural Center August 10, 2017. “Stray” was written by band leader, singer, and guitarist Steve Dedman. Plywood Cowboy for this show was Dedman (vocals, guitar, piano), Austin Gray (lead guitar, vocals), Kat Wallace (violin, vocals), Shane Tanner (bass), and Jason Apostoleris (drums).

Bluegrass star Tim O’Brien, accompanied by Jan Fabricus on vocals, performs at Best Video Film & Cultural Center in Hamden, Connecticit November 15, 2017, part of a sold-out two-night stand. The concert was presented by Chris Wuerth’s GuitarTownCT Productions. O’Brien and Fabricus perform the song “Grandma’s Hands,” composed by Bill Withers.

Events canceled through April 14

We have canceled all events at Best Video Film & Cultural Center through April 14 due to the public health crisis. While it may be necessary to cancel further events—and perhaps likely will be—we are leaving them on the calendar for now to maintain flexibility.
Stay safe, everybody.

COVID-19 update: Closing by state order as of Sun., Mar. 22, at 6 PM

Dear members and friends,

Pursuant to Gov. Ned Lamont’s orders, we will be closing Best Video Film & Cultural Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as of Sunday, Mar. 22, at 6 PM. We hope and plan to reopen as soon as civil and scientific authorities declare it is safe to do so.

We have been deeply moved that many of you have literally told us you consider us “essential” as events have unfolded.

If you wish to check out movies between now and 6 PM this Sunday, we ask that you please call ahead (203-287-9286) so that we may have them checked out and ready for you when you come. If you need to browse, we ask that you do so quickly and NOT TOUCH any of the DVDs—we will pull those you want from the shelves. If you enter the premises, please respect social distancing advisories of six feet from other individuals and try to refrain from touching surfaces. Your cooperation in this lowers everyone’s risk.

Checked-out movies can be returned to the drop box just in front of our entrance or to the boxes at the Willow Street Shell at the corner of Nicoll and Willow streets in New Haven or to the box on the porch of Lyric Hall at 827 Whalley Avenue in New Haven.

Serving the community in this team of crisis and fear is an honor for us. And to reopen and be able to play that role again—as a signpost to a longed-for return to normal life—is our aspiration.

The Great Give—the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s annual online fundraiser, which is scheduled for the first week of May—is our most important income source of the year. The two months leading up to it were bound to be tight financially; the closure will only make that situation more challenging.

We recognize that the impacts of this crisis are global and everyone is feeling the financial pinch. But if you can help by donating through our Web site or suggesting sources of COVID-19 emergency funds for non-profits and small businesses, that assistance will be much appreciated.

For those of you who have monthly or annual membership plans, we reach out to ask for your help, partnership, and patience. These membership plans are foundational revenue streams for us and critical to our survival until we reopen. If you have a monthly plan and can continue it on a temporary basis as a gift, that will provide crucial support. If your circumstances don’t allow for that, you can email us at info [AT] top have the charges paused. If you have an annual plan, we will gladly extend that plan when we reopen for the amount of time in which we were closed.

Our motto is “Bringing film, music, and people together.” The arts are the heart of a community. We wish all of you safety and good health in these difficult times.

We will meet again, and let us hope soon.

Hank Hoffman
Executive Director
& the Staff and Board of Directors of Best Video Film & Cultural Center

UPDATE on COVID-19 impacts on Best Video as of 3/19/20

Dear members and friends of Best Video Film & Cultural Center:

As with everybody, we are constantly making adjustments as the evolving situation requires.

Due to new guidelines from the Quinnipiac Valley Health District (QVHD) and in the interests of caution and safety, we are instituting the following changes in regard to service from our cafe:

• According to the QVHD, all takeout orders from the cafe must be “curbside” or through the door.

• If you want a coffee drink or baked good from the cafe, please call (203) 287-9286 to place your order. (Bagels will not be available until the situation returns to normal.) If at all possible, please pay with your credit card over the phone.

• QVHD does not allow self-service, so we will need to add whatever milk, cream or sweeteners you need to your drink.

• If you know what you want to rent, please call (203) 287-9286 and we will get them ready. If you have a monthly or annual membership plan, they will be checked out for you and ready to pick up. If you pay per rental, please use a card if you can.

• If you wish to browse, you may but we ask two things:

(1) Please respect social distancing from others by keeping a distance of 6- feet between you and other members.

(2) PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE DVDs. If you see something that you want, let our staff know and they will get it off the shelf for you.




Thank you for your cooperation and support. We aspire to be a source of solace and a reminder of community in these difficult times but to be so in a safe and responsible way.

Hank Hoffman
Executive Director
& The Staff and Board of Directors of Best Video Film & Cultural Center

Update on COVID-19 impacts on Best Video: cafe goes to takeout only, closing time at 6 PM

Dear members and friends,

Pursuant to Gov. Ned Lamont’s order, the Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s cafe will be moving to takeout only for the foreseeable future.

I have consulted with the Quinnipiac Valley Health District and this plan is consistent with Gov. Lamont’s directive.

The plan now is to continue receiving deliveries of pastries from Bread & Chocolate and donuts and bagels from Whitney Donut. You can come in and pick up specialty coffee drinks and baked goods but, unfortunately, not stick around for hearty conversation. There is a hand sanitizer dispenser at the entrance and we are regularly cleaning all touchable surfaces with disinfectant cleaners and wipes.

We are also closing earlier, at 6 PM rather than the previously announced 7 PM. We have had quite a few people express gratitude at being able to get movies to keep themselves occupied in these times. And we are moved at the expressions of support and donations we have received.

We do STRONGLY encourage folks—particularly if you have one of the monthly or annual 1-Movie, 2-Movie, or 4-Movie Plans—to call ahead and tell us what you would like to rent. That way we can have them checked out and ready to hand off to you when you get here. Additionally, to reduce the number of times you need to go out, you can rent an additional movie at no extra charge if you have the 1- or 2-Movie Plans.

Of course, if circumstances change, we will keep everyone posted.

We wish all of our friends and neighbors good health in these difficult times.

Hank Hoffman
Executive Director
& Staff and Board of Directors of Best Video Film & Cultural Center