Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center turns to streaming while theater closed during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's Gene Siskel Film Center is using creative ways to keep in touch with its audience while the theater is closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The center is known as one of the city's premiere art houses, featuring cinema from around the world, independent gems and uncommon screen encounters.

"This is the only place that you can see a lot of things. It's the only place where you're going to meet a director in person and be able to come to the theater and have a great conversation with total strangers," said Jean de St. Aubin, executive director of the Siskel Film Center.

The doors have been closed since mid-March, but movies continue with the theater's new streaming program "Film Center From Your Sofa."

"I think we're reaching our audience and we're reaching people who never heard of us," de St. Aubin said. "All the films that we're streaming right now, you can't get those on Netflix or Amazon."

There are also virtual interactive events with the artists.

"We started reaching out to filmmakers, saying, 'Would you be available to do a virtual conversation?'" she said. "We've had conversations with directors in Ireland, directors in Massachusetts, California. The special guests are on Zoom, all the audience is on Facebook Live and they can send messages back and forth. It's very cool."

Reopening the film center will mean limited capacity, and seating people with safe distance between them.

"People will always like going to the movies. People always like being with other people," de St. Aubin said.

For more information, visit the film center's website.
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