Community supports Gardena Cinema

(Photo by Gary Kohatsu)

By Brett Callwood

Supporters of beloved local institution the Gardena Cinema showed up en masse on Saturday to throw their weight behind the cause to keep the cinema open.

The Gardena Cinema hosted a free pop-up screening on Saturday, May 6, with the aim of raising importance about the Cinema’s importance. 

The Kim family have owned and operated the cinema since 1976 but in recent years have had to fight to keep it open, especially during the COVID lockdowns.

“To run a theater that’s really based on being embedded in the community, unless people know about it, it’s hard to keep it open,” one supporter told ABC7. “It makes it special to me because I feel like L.A. is huge, the South Bay is huge, we can all be separated, it’s only by having these places where we can all come together that we really become a community.”

The Gardena Cinema is currently for sale but as of now, a buyer hasn’t been found. “Until a buyer is found, we are still here and operating as a movie cinema,” owner Judy Kim told ABC. “I will do my best to keep the place running until escrow closes.”

Kim told the GVN that, “The pop-up vendors and Gardena Cinema Picture Show screening exceeded our expectations and was evidence that there is a demand to feel a sense of community for independent film product in the South Bay. I was deeply touched at the huge turnout and to see over 500 people showing support and cheering on the cinema to keep operating. So many people told me that it was their first time being at the cinema and that they would return for a movie again. You could feel the electricity in the air for the excitement people felt in being part of this communal experience! I hope that filmmakers will continue to make great film products so we can continue to share it with the public.”

The new calendar was unveiled in April. Highlights include classics such as Grease and Purple Rain, and new films such as Barbie and Fast X.

The Gardena Cinema is the “oldest and only vintage single-screen stand-alone movie cinema in Southwest Los Angeles” and it’s located at 14948 Crenshaw Blvd, Gardena. 

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