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The Athena Cinema located on Court Street on March 21, 2023, in Athens, Ohio. The theater is hosting the Athens International Film and Video Festival in April.

Athena Cinema reopens after eight-month closure

The Athena Cinema, located at 20 S. Court St., reopened one of its three theater screens after an eight-month closure Friday. 

The cinema was fully closed from the end of May 2023 through Jan. 5, 2024, for structural repairs, Alexandra Kamody, director of the Athena Cinema, said. 

“We needed to make some structural repairs to the building,” she said. “The university discovered that some repairs needed to be made, and they made the decision to close down the theater during the repairs.”

While the Athena Cinema’s building was closed, it still held several events, including movie screenings on the roof of the Athens Parking Garage – 7 E. Washington St. – and screenings at the Ridges, which brought many Athens residents together to watch movies. 

“During our closure period ... we had hundreds of people come up to the Ridges to watch our Appalachian film series,“ Kamody said.

Many students were disappointed by the theater’s closure, such as Mia Walsh, a senior studying women’s, gender and sexuality studies. She said she was shocked and sad to see the Athena on Court Street close. 

Walsh said she and her friends don’t have cars with them on campus, so it added difficulties for them when trying to figure out how to go to another nearby theater, like the Athena Grand, located at 1008 E. State St. Before, she said she could walk to the Athena Cinema and easily access the theater. 

Although Walsh was disappointed to see the building closed, she was excited to participate in some of the events put on by the theater. 

“(The Athena is) just a staple of the community, and so it was just sad to see that it was closed for a little bit,” she said. “Then I got really happy, of course, when I saw that they were doing the rooftop events, especially over the summer.”

The closure was also difficult for the cinema’s employees, Kamody said, because they were just starting to regain momentum within the cinema after the theater was closed for 16 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It wasn't easy to pivot and shift gears when we found out that we would need to be closed for several months," she said. “I think that the community support has been a huge motivator for us. And also, we just have a really creative team here that's willing to try different things.”

Although the cinema currently only has one screen open, Kamody said she believes this will not limit attendance at the theater. 

However, those who wish to once again support the theater will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the cinema in its fullest form due to the renovations. There’s still a limited amount of programs shown at the theater, which has become a concern for Kamody.

“I think it's challenging as a programmer because we can't fit nearly as much programming in as we could when we have three screens,” she said. “This is a really busy time in the film industry. Due to the writer’s strike, a lot of films are coming out a little bit later.”

Walsh said she’ll be back at the Athena Cinema soon, and encouraged other students to enjoy what it has to offer.  

“I think students should take advantage and support the small business and see independent films,” she said.

Although the closure was a challenge for the cinema’s staff, Kamody said they are ready to get back into the building and start showing movies to its part of the community again.

“I think we all just are really excited to get back to doing what we do, which is play movies,” she said. “We want to do that regularly in our building.”

According to Athena’s Instagram, the two downstairs theaters are anticipated to reopen within the coming months. 


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