Category Archives: Featured

Julie E. Smith named new Best Video Film & Cultural Center Executive Director

Best Video Film and Cultural Center is thrilled to announce the hiring of Julie E. Smith as its next Executive Director.

Smith succeeds Hank Hoffman following his 28 years of service to the cultural community of Greater New Haven. She comes to Best Video with a wealth of experience, most recently serving as the Managing Director of the Keefe Community Center in Hamden where she oversaw four departments and approximately $50M in school building projects, Community Development Block Grants, and COVID relief. Before that, she served for twelve years in various capacities for the Town, including Director of Arts, Culture & Special Projects, and in the Mayor’s Office as the Chief of Staff.

“It’s been an honor and a thrill for me to have worked the past 27-plus years for first Best Video and then Best Video Film & Cultural Center and to help foster its community-oriented mission with our staff, Board, performers, and hundreds of supporters,” said Hank Hoffman. “I retire knowing BVFCC’s future is in extraordinarily capable hands with Julie Smith taking the helm. Julie has the energy and creativity to drive the growth of the organization and to reach out to new and diverse constituencies.”

Smith’s tenure at the municipal level was marked by her commitment to using arts and culture to drive economic development, the creation of new programs to expand access to cultural experiences for communities across Hamden, and her efforts to help guide the town through the most difficult months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her dedication to collaboration and inclusion will undoubtedly inform her leadership as she transitions Best Video into its next phase of growth as a premier destination for music and movie lovers throughout the region.

“The Board is sad to see Hank depart for a much-deserved retirement, but we couldn’t be more excited to welcome someone with Julie’s rare combination of enthusiasm, experience, vision, and community connections into this role,” said Board member Chris Renton. “We can’t wait to get started on a new Strategic Plan for Best Video and are confident that Julie is the right person to hear and understand the needs of our community, and work with the Board to meet those needs and exceed expectations.”

“I am over the moon to be joining the Best Video Film & Cultural Center community as Executive Director. My family and I have been members of BVFCC for over two decades and my children grew up here. As a Hamden resident, I am eager to showcase the cultural jewel that is Best Video Film & Cultural Center. We are a destination for people throughout the region at a time when the need for community and cultural connection has never been greater. I am grateful to the board and outgoing Executive Director, Hank Hoffman for their support and warm welcome. I have some very big shoes to fill and am looking forward to jumping in with both feet!”, shared Julie Smith.

Advance giving has begun in The Great Give! Follow our social media for Great Give-related events & hints on how to maximize the impact of your support

The Great Give® 2022 takes place from 8 AM, May 4, through 8 PM, May 5.

Advance giving has already begun! You can contribute now to help support Best Video Film & Cultural Center. Click here for BVFCC’s main Great Give® page. But scroll down for suggestions on how your support can have even more impact and help us win additional dollars in prize money and matching funds. And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute reports and suggestions on how to support our campaign.

The Great Give®, a 36-hour fundraising marathon coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, is a financial lifeline for hundreds of cultural and social action non-profits in the greater New Haven area. And BVFCC is no exception.

Last year, we raised some $60,000 in The Great Give® (after raising $50,000 in 2020). Those funds were crucial to sustaining us through the (still ongoing) lean pandemic months. They enabled us to invest in a beautiful outdoor deck in 2020 so we could present two dozen music shows safely that fall and another 100 in 2021.

The money you donated allowed us to help organize the 2020 Hamden Black Film Mini-Series and to continue to expand our renowned movie library. And now that we are having indoor events, these funds play an important role in funding our expanded film screening programming. Already this year, we have had a series on feminist filmmakers and one on great music concert/festival documentaries. In May, we’ve scheduled screenings of four “Contemporary Classics of International Cinema” to be presented by scholars affiliated with Yale Film & Media Studies Program.


Ways you can make your best gift go farther and have more impact:

• Become a BVFCC Fundraising Champion with a page of your own and raise—with our help—$200 or more from two or more donors (one of whom could be you). If you are interested in being a Fundraising Champion, contact us at execdir [AT]

• If you can’t be a Fundraising Champion yourself, help our Fundraising Champions reach their goal of raising $200 from two or more donors by donating through those pages that haven’t yet hit $200. (Links to Fundraising Champions pages can be found at the bottom of our main BVFCC Great Give® page.) Last year, all 100 of our Fundraising Champions made their goal, which secured us the $5,000 “You’ve Got Friends” prize.

Other ways you can support us in our Great Give® campaign:

• Display a “Support Best Video Film & Cultural Center in The Great Give®” lawn signs on your front lawn—they are available for pickup at Best Video!

• Share links to our Best Video Great Give® page on social media—get the word out!

• Attend our two Great Give® social events. As part of our promotion of The Great Give®, we will have happy hours on Sat., Apr. 30, 3-5 PM, and on the first day of The Great Give®, Wed., May 4, from 7-9 PM. Guitarist Robert Messore will play incidental music at the Sat., Apr. 30, event; we will have delicious free snacks and half-price drinks. On Wed., May 4, we will have a social hour from 7-8 PM. At 8 PM, the Brazilian music duo Isabella Mendes and Flavio Lira will play. It is the “Bank of America Raise the Curtain Power Hour” and the more of our supporters who make donations during that hour, the more of a share we will receive from Bank of America’s pool of matching funds for performing arts and visual arts organizations.

We look forward to continue to work on our mission of bringing people, film, and music together and it’s your support in The Great Give® that makes that possible.


Want to be Best Video’s next Executive Director? Apply now!

Want to run a cool cultural non-profit with a strong base of community support?

With current Best Video Film & Cultural Center Executive Director Hank Hoffman retiring, the organization is looking for a successor. The job announcement is posted on and we are currently taking applications.

The Executive Director is the key management leader, strategic fundraiser, and programmatic visionary for Best Video Film and Cultural Center (BVFCC). The Executive Director is responsible for overseeing the administration, programs, fund development, and strategic planning for the organization. Other key duties include communications, marketing, and community outreach. The position reports directly to the Board of Directors.

BVFCC took over the beloved independent video store Best Video in November, 2015 and has been running the performance center archive of film as a 501(c)3 non-profit since then.

Join us for Sat. afternoon, Apr. 30, 3-5 PM for pre-Great Give Happy Hour

Join us on the Best Video Film & Cultural Center deck Sat., Apr. 30, from 3-5 PM for a Happy Hour to promote our participation in The Great Give®, a 36-hour community-wide online fundraising marathon coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Cafe drinks (coffee, wine, beer) will be half-price for the Happy Hour. And we will have free snacks for all attendees. Guitarist Robert Messore will provide incidental music for the event.

Come socialize with fellow supporters of Best Video and help us publicize our participation in the Great Give! (If weather prevents holding it outside, it will be moved inside.)

The Great Give® is New Haven County’s spring non-profit online fundraiser. And ours! This is our most important and significant fundraising event of the year.

The marathon part of The Great Give® starts on Wednesday, May 4, at 8 AM and lasts until Thursday, May 5, at 7:59 PM. Advance giving starts on Friday, Apr. 23.

Best Video awarded $25,800 Operating Support Grant from CT Cultural Fund

Connecticut Humanities, the statewide, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has awarded Best Video Film & Cultural Center (BVFCC) a $25,800 CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant (CTCFOSG).

BVFCC will apply the funds to bolstering the organization’s film screening programming by covering licensing and honoraria costs. Additionally, Best Video is looking into using the money to upgrade its online presence and digital infrastructure and developing a filmmaking educational program for young people.

“Best Video Film & Cultural Center exists to bring people, film, and music together. The support of CT Humanities and the Connecticut Office of the Arts will be of tremendous importance in helping us to fulfill our mission,” says BVFCC Executive Director Hank Hoffman. “As an organization that has thrived by presenting in-person events—as well as maintaining a browsable archive of movies on physical media—we have felt the impact of the pandemic deeply. But grants such as the operating support grant of the CT Cultural Fund are a lifeline that enables us to continue and extend our work, which resonates with the community and brings joy and uplift to thousands of people.”

Best Video Film & Cultural Center was one of 624 organizations in Connecticut that was awarded CT Cultural Fund support totaling $16M from CT Humanities. The CTCFOSG are part of $30.7M of support allocated to arts, humanities, and cultural nonprofits through CTH over the next two years by the CT General Assembly and approved by Governor Ned Lamont. The CTCFOSG will assist organizations as they recover from the pandemic and maintain and grow their ability to serve their community and the public.

This grant was administered by CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature.

The 2021 Great Give® is May 4-5; advance giving has already started!

Great Give Happy Hour on our deck Tues., May 4

Save the dates! The Great Give® 2021 takes place from 8 AM, May 4, through 8 PM, May 5. (Advance giving began Apr. 23.) And we have two Great Give ®-associated Happy Hours from 5-7 PM on Tuesdays, Apr. 27 and May 4.

The Great Give®, a 36-hour fundraising marathon coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, is a financial lifeline for hundreds of cultural and social action non-profits in the greater New Haven area. And BVFCC is no exception.

Last year, we raised some $50,000 in The Great Give®, almost doubling our previous best performance. (The Great Give® overall saw an outpouring of generosity in 2020.)

Those funds were crucial to sustaining us through the (still ongoing) lean pandemic months. They enabled us to:

• invest in a beautiful outdoor deck so we could present music shows safely last fall; the shows begin again in mid-April;

• help organize this past fall’s Hamden Black Film Mini-Series;

• and to continue to expand our renowned movie library.

Planning on supporting Best Video and like for your support to go even further? Please consider becoming one of our Best Video Great Give® “fundraisers.” There are thousands of dollars in additional prizes for the organizations with the most fundraisers raising $200 or more. Last year, BVFCC won $4,000 for second place in The Great Give®’s “You’ve Got Friends” prize by having over 60 fundraisers who brought in $200 or more. This year, we would like to get that number up to 100 fundraisers. Please contact us at info [AT] for information on being one of our friendly fundraisers!

And please join us on our deck—paid for by the 2020 Great Give®—for Great Give® Happy Hours on Tuesday, May 4, from 5-7 PM each day! We will have half-price drinks, free snacks, and an opportunity to socialize (safely and outdoors) with fellow supporters of Best Video.

We look forward to continue to work on our mission of bringing people, film, and music together and it’s your support in The Great Give® that makes that possible.

Best Video presents acclaimed new film “Ham on Rye” in virtual screening

Best Video Film & Cultural Center is proud to partner with Factory 25 distribution to screen the acclaimed new independent feature film, “Ham On Rye” on its initial theatrical release. This is a virtual screening—Best Video’s first foray into streaming!—and tickets are $10 and available at this link. Half the proceeds go to BVFCC. The ticket price is good for a three-day rental period.

“Ham on Rye” is a coming-of-age comedy centered on the nervous excitement of youth and the strange horror of entering adulthood. Tyler Taormina’s directing debut uses an expansive ensemble of over one hundred performers, including non-actors, musicians, 90’s Nickelodeon child stars, and more, to explore a suburban community’s relationship with a prom-like ritual and the decay of the human spirit. It begins with the crowd-pleasing spirit of a John Hughes movie and fades slowly into an off-kilter dystopia with the energy of “Dazed and Confused.”

The recently-released movie is garnering ecstatic reviews. It currently boasts a 91% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. New York Times critic Glenn Kenny, in a review published on Oct. 22, designated “Ham on Rye” as a New York Times Critic’s Pick. According to Kenny, “With his first feature, the director and co-writer Tyler Taormina delivers something at first familiar and then increasingly — but never ostentatiously — strange. ‘Ham on Rye’ can be taken as an allegory for middle-class suburban life in America, but it’s got added value as a potent mood piece, accomplished with a bare minimum of means.”

The opportunity to showcase “Ham on Rye” came courtesy of longtime Best Video member and donor Kevin Anton, who was the film’s editor and an executive producer. Anton write in an email:

We like to think of this film as a love letter to suburban hometowns. Tyler, the director, based the film on his own experiences returning to the town he grew up in. He found an oppressive loneliness to the streets and houses of his youth, with many of his childhood friends gone off to the cities. I think there’s truth in that, but I also see the film as a celebration of local gathering spots and the ever-changing cycle of a community over time.

I think this year especially we’ve all developed a greater appreciation for the shared physical places that embody our community. I grew up going to Best Video and I am so grateful that it’s been able to stay around and grow into something so much more than a video rental store. I’m honored they agreed to screen our film, and I look forward to running into old friends in the New Arrivals aisle someday soon.

Cafe reopening set for Mon., June 15; Sunday video hours change from 4-8 PM to 3-7 PM

BVFCC cafe manager Matt Elliott and barista Graham Honaker getting the cafe ready for the Monday reopening.

Due to some unexpected complications, we were unable to reopen the cafe this week as expected (and announced). Our apologies to all who were disappointed. But we have gotten the kinks out and our cafe will reopen for curbside pickup this coming Monday, June 15.

Also, the Sunday hours for curbside DVD pickup is changing. Previously, Sunday hours were 4-8 PM. Starting this weekend, members can pick up their videos on Sunday from 3-7 PM. Members can also pick up DVDs 3-7 Pm on Monday-Wednesday and from 4-8 PM Thursday through Saturday.
Starting June 15, the cafe will be open daily from 8 AM-noon. PLEASE: debit or credit cards only for transactions for safety reasons. While cash will be acceptable for tips, the cafe—like the video side—will not be accepting cash or checks for transactions to lower the risk to staff and patrons.

We also ask that all patrons—for your safety and the safety of our staff—observe these precautions:

WEAR MASKS • Our staff will be wearing masks when they serve you. We ask that you respect them by also wearing masks when receiving your purchase. We understand that the masks will need to be lowered if you take a seat to drink your cappuccino or devour your croissant. That’s where social distancing becomes extra important!

OBSERVE SOCIAL DISTANCING IN LINE & WHEN SEATED AT OUTSIDE TABLES • Please maintain a social distance of 6-8 feet between you and others who aren’t members of your household. We know everybody wants to socialize again but let’s do it in a safe manner.

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]