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]

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”:

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

Save the dates! The Great Give® May 1-2, The Great Give® Happy Hours Apr. 24 & May 1

You can start giving now!

Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of greater New Haven’s day of giving, The Great Give®—an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

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.

Get ready to give!

The Great Give®, organized by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, runs from May 1-May 2, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. Advance gifts can be made for The Great Give® beginning April 19, 2019; advance gifts will count toward grand prize calculations, but will not be counted toward hourly prize incentives.

To contribute to Best Video Film & Cultural Center during The Great Give®, go to and enter “Best Video” in the Search field to find our page. Or just click on the graphic in this post to be taken directly to our Great Give® page.

BVFCC will endeavor to stoke enthusiasm for The Great Give® with two Happy Hour events, one on Wed., Apr. 24, from 5-7 PM, and the second on the first day of The Great Give®, Wed., May 1, from 5-7 PM. Come on down to BVFCC on those days for drink specials, tasty snacks, socializing, and—if you can—your laptop or smartphone to make a Great Give® donation to support BVFCC!

Best Video hosts annual pre-Oscars brunch & celebration Sun., Feb. 24, 10:30 AM-1 PM

Movie Trivia Contest! Guess the Oscars Winner Contest! Great Prizes! Mimosas, Bagels & more!

Best Video Film & Cultural Center celebrates the Academy Awards with a pre-Oscars Brunch on Oscar Sunday, Feb. 24, from 10:30 AM-1 PM. Originally scheduled as an afternoon event with a Chili Cook-Off, it was moved to the morning to avoid any conflict with an evening Pot Luck at Spring Glen Church.

Featuring complimentary mimosas, bagels & more! Oscar Trivia Contest with Masters of Trivia Lena Olive and Scott White! A Guess the Most Correct Oscar Winners ballot contest! Prizes!

Everybody is welcome to come celebrate movie culture and community. Bring the kids!

Support for Best Video Film & Cultural Center programming is welcomed with suggested donations of $5-$25 (contribute what you’d like in that range, or more!).