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

New releases 3/17/20

Top Hits
Jumanji: Next Level (family adventure/comedy, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It’s perhaps unfair to call this a turkey. It’s got some sweet moments, and the cast, as it did in the previous picture, enjoys itself at least semi-infectiously. But the action sequences are lifeless; the lessons valid but arguably stale; and the trimmings, mere bloat.” Read more…)

Black Christmas (horror, Imogen Poots. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 49. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “If all you wanted for Christmas was a smarter Black Christmas,’ you are in luck. The director Sophia Takal, who wrote the screenplay with the film critic April Wolfe, has taken the 1974 Canadian sorority slasher standard — remade once before, in 2006 — and run with it, emerging with a movie significantly different in style and tone from its source. This ‘Black Christmas’ speaks to an era of campus curriculum debates and a national reckoning over the reporting of sexual assault.” Read more…)

Superman: Red Son (unrated animated feature, Jason Isaacs [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Blu-Ray
Jumanji: Next Level

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Intrigue (1916, silent film w/screenplay by pioneering women filmmaker Julia Crawford Ivers)
Alice Guy Blaché Vol. 1: The Gaumont Years (pioneering woman filmmaker)
Alice Guy Blaché Vol. 2: The Solax Years (pioneering woman filmmaker)

New TV
Modern Family: Season 7 (comedy, Ed O’Neill)

New Documentaries
Celebration: Yves St. Laurent—The Final Show (fashion, bio, personality. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Early in this century, the documentary director Olivier Meyrou, at the invitation of Pierre Bergé, spent two and a half years filming the couturier Yves Saint Laurent and his employees and associates. Bergé, of course, was one of them: Saint Laurent’s longtime business manager, hard-nosed where Saint Laurent was dreamy, is a central figure in ‘Celebration,’ which chronicles the creation of what would be Saint Laurent’s final collection.” Read more…)

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

A message from Best Video on cancellations and revised hours due to COVID-19 virus

Dear members and friends,

Due to COVID-19, Best Video Film & Cultural Center will be suspending events through the end of March. (The status of currently scheduled programming beyond March will be reevaluated as required by circumstances.) We are taking direction from the recommendations of the town and civil authorities and acting in the interests of caution. As others are, we will continue monitoring the information coming from the CDC and knowledgeable public health experts.

Considerations for the health and welfare of our members, staff, and performers are paramount.

Our cafe and video rental archive will remain open. But, in addition to suspending events, we are temporarily scaling back our hours on the video side of our organization. Our cafe will continue to be open from 7 AM-7 PM Monday through Friday and 8 AM-7 PM on Saturdays and Sundays. On the video side, we will open as usual at 9 AM but close—starting today, Mar. 12—at 7 PM each night.

During this time when all of us will be following recommendations to avoid large public gatherings, access to our amazing archive of movies could be a source of diversion and pleasure. As a benefit to members, we are initiating a special for the month of March: If you have a 1-Movie monthly or annual plan, you may take out two movies at no extra charge through March.

Additionally, for members with the 1-, 2-, or 4-movie plans, we will expand our service for your convenience. If you call ahead with a request, we’ll grab your movies for you and hand them to you at the door when you get here.

This is a challenging and, yes, frightening time for many of us. We wish all good health and hope for the best.


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

New releases 3/10/20

Top Hits
Uncut Gems (crime/drama, Adam Sandler. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Uncut Gems,’ the latest from the brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, blows in like a Category 4 hurricane. It’s a tumult of sensory extremes, of images and sounds, lurching shapes, braying voices, intensities of feeling and calculated craziness. So, naturally it stars — why not? — Adam Sandler as a cheat, liar, loving dad, bad husband, jealous lover and compulsive gambler who can’t stop, won’t stop acting the fool. The Safdies, two of the more playfully inventive filmmakers working in American cinema, won’t stop, either, which makes ‘Uncut Gems’ fun if also wearying and at times annoying.” Read more…)

Charlie’s Angels (action remake, Kristen Stewart. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In the interest of due diligence, I recently reread my review from 2000 of the first big-screen ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ I opened that appraisal with a fast takedown and a sincerely posed question: ‘Of course, it’s terrible — but did it have to be this bad?’ Two decades later, I hopefully watched the new big-screen version of ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ which turns out to be another egregious stinker. Perhaps that isn’t a surprise, though it serves as another reminder that you can’t overturn the master’s house simply by rearranging the furniture. You need to burn the whole thing down.” Read more…)

Bombshell (drama, Nicole Kidman. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Bright and bouncy until it turns grim, ‘Bombshell’ is a fictionalized account of the women who brought down Roger Ailes, the chairman and chief executive of Fox News. Helped bring him down is probably more accurate given that he was ousted by Rupert Murdoch, who founded Fox News in 1996 before handing the reins to Ailes. Since then, the network has become a ratings powerhouse and hothouse of right-wing talking points, a sea of white faces and dolled-up women in skirts and high heels. Ailes is now gone but the talking points, high ratings, skirts and heels remain.” Read more…)

The Wolf Hour (thriller, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 42. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “More than anything, ‘The Wolf Hour’ suggests an unfinished ‘Twilight Zone’ episode, one that teases an explosive, possibly supernatural payoff before fizzling out. Set in the South Bronx in the sweltering summer of 1977, this psychological drama centers on June [Naomi Watts], an agoraphobic writer four years into spending a hefty advance for her second novel. Tormented by trauma that’s somehow linked to her celebrated debut, June smokes and paces, her whole body crackling with distress.” Read more…)

Spies In Disguise (animated feature, Will Smith [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Will Smith voices an ‘is there anything he can’t do?’ secret agent whose massive skills are dwarfed by his humongous ego in ‘Spies in Disguise,’ a colorful but not very eye-opening animated offering from Blue Sky, the studio that brought us the ‘Ice Age’ diversions. The character is an amiable-to-the-point-of-toothless sendup of Smith’s celebrity persona and many of the roles he’s played.” Read more…)

Little Joe (horror/sci-fi, Emily Beecham. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 60. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by the Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner with a detachment more professorial than wry, ‘Little Joe’ manages to exert a peculiar pull in spite of being constructed with material you’ve likely seen elsewhere.” Read more…)

Ne Zha (animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 54. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Ne Zha,’ a computer-animated feature of bright hues, hectic action and only occasional charm, has already been a huge hit in China, where the title character is a familiar figure from mythology, literature, television and other films. The movie [directed by Jiao Zi], which assumes a passing acquaintance with that history — and has been trumpeted in its home country for its elaborate effects — offers an origin story for the boy hero.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Uncut Gems

New TV
The Affair: Season 5 (drama, Dominic West. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 77.)

New Documentaries
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (media, history, personality, bio. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Can one become a historian merely by pressing a button? The documentary ‘Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project’ says yes. It also demonstrates that pressing a button is not such a mere thing.” Read more…)

5B (health care, AIDS crisis, compassion, 1st AID ward. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 69.)
Lifeline: Clyfford Still (art, bio, abstract expressionism)