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Abe Vigoda and Robert Duvall watch Marlon Brando and Al Lettieri shake hands in a scene from the film 'The Godfather', 1972. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)
Abe Vigoda and Robert Duvall watch Marlon Brando and Al Lettieri shake hands in a scene from the film 'The Godfather', 1972. (Photo by Paramount/Getty Images)

David Garonzik sees the future of the cinema in its past. He wants Naples to see it, too, in a place he feels was made for it.  

Garonzik and his business partner, his wife, Cecilia, are proposing a boutique cinema on the southeast corner of Thomasson and Bayshore drives that will specialize in vintage and personally curated films. Its fare would not be the first-run blockbuster, but the selected classic, sometimes attuned to a special day or season. Events such as the Naples Winter Wine Festival or Cars on Fifth could bring out a week of movies themed to their topics. 

Garonzik said he’s ready for the quirkiest of observances, such as National Roller Skating Day, with films centered around, or employing, them.  

“I would program a calendar, but absolutely would take suggestions,” he told attendees at the Bayshore Community Redevelopment Agency meeting Jan. 17, where he explained his plan to an approving crowd.  

“I’m really excited about the fact that it would be located in the heart of the Bayshore Arts District,” he told the group of around 30 residents.  

The cinema’s first series could appropriately center around a theme of convenience stores, since it would be on the property that held Del’s 24-Hour Food Store, a legend on that corner for 55 years. Collier County bought its four parcels of land comprising 2802 and 2808 Thomasson Drive from the late Ackerman’s wife. The Garonziks’ company, Naples Cinematheque, is proposing to buy the land for $2.5 million.   

No date has been set yet for a meeting with Collier County commissioners. Garonzik said the couple is in the process of completing financial backing, “although I would always welcome someone local. I would love to see local investment in this.” The architect, acoustician and sound technicians are all set, however, he said.  

Garonzik said he is a lifelong film aficionado, a former projectionist to stars in Hollywood as well as production companies there. It’s been his dream to open a cinema that programs according to local needs, interests and celebrations.  

Garonzik said he would love to bring films that may have been underrated or discarded at their openings, but are being given a second look now for their entertainment or social issue value or the legacy of their stars or directors.  

Because of the current intrigue of international politics, he offered “Witness for the Prosecution” and “Judgment at Nuremberg,” or on the issue of abortion, “Love With a Proper Stranger.”  

Garonzik said the couple is taking their cue from several cinemas that hew to the same format of themed and rare films: the Film Forum in New York City, and the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles, which spreads its films among three theaters. Both are nonprofit organizations. 

Naples Cinematheque would hold two 75-seat theaters and an intimate 35-seat space. A concession stand and full bar are planned to be part of the mix. 

Garonzik sees it as a perfect spot for private party rental as well. People can potentially rent a themed film for the celebration or screen their own documentaries. He recalled one man actually proposing to his girlfriend via a documentary he had assembled of her life and screened for her at a surprise party in one of the Los Angeles venues.  

“I just think Naples is the kind of city for something like this,” Garonzik declared. 

If he were programming his theater to begin with his favorite films, what would Naples see? “The ‘Godfather’ trilogy,” he said. “I love those films.” 

 For more Collier County coverage, subscribe to The Naples Press.

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