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Northwest Chicago Film Society Finds New Home at Patio Theater

  The Northwest Chicago Film Society is "collateral damage" in a dispute over the theater's liquor license.
Locked out of the Portage Theater, Northwest Chicago Film Society Relocates
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PORTAGE PARK — Locked out of the Portage Theater, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will make the Patio Theater its new home — despite the theater's lack of air conditioning.

After Wednesday's screening of Curtis Harrington's 1967 movie "Games" at the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview, the society will move to the Patio Theater in the Irving-Austin Business District for the foreseeable future, although the theater is not showing Hollywood movies this summer because of a busted air conditioning system.

"Can sitting in an especially beautiful theater keep you cool?" asked film society Executive Director Rebecca Hall. "I guess we'll find out." 

The group would rather sweat a little rather than not show the classic films they love, Hall said.

"We hope our patrons will bear with us through the summer," Hall said.

Patio Theater owner Demetri Kouvalis had hoped to use a small-business grant from the city to cover the cost of repairing the 86-year-old former movie palace's air conditioning system, but the city ran out of money. Kouvalis said he cannot afford the repair cost, estimated between $40,000 and $50,000.

All of the film society's screenings will take place at 7:30 p.m. on the originally scheduled date, except for Otto Preminger's movie "Bonjour Tristesse," which will take place at 8 p.m. July 8. Admission for all screenings is $5.

When the Portage Theater went dark May 25 because of a dispute over its liquor license between owner Eddie Carranza and Ald. John Arena (45th), the film society scrambled to find new venues for its screenings.

The group obtained a 16-millimeter projector to use at the Patio, 6008 W. Irving Park Road, to make sure it can show all of its slated films. The Patio has both a brand-new digital projector — funded by a Kickstarter campaign — and a 35-millimeter projector.

Even if Carranza reopened the Portage Theater immediately, it would be "literally impossible" to show movies there because there is no longer a projector, speakers or organ at the Portage, Hall said. The theater's previous operators, which owned the equipment, took it all with them when the theater was closed, Hall added.