By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer

Tucked away behind Angelo Pietro on Harding Avenue, just before the west-bound exit onto the H-1, lies the hidden gem of Kaimukī: the Movie Museum. Few people actually know the Movie Museum exists, but those who do are some of the most loyal customers any business could hope for. The Movie Museum is a small theater that shows mostly obscure films, including foreign and independent movies, in the interest of expanding film culture beyond the typical blockbusters screened at movie theater chains.

The Movie Museum has a multitude of shelves covering nearly every wall carrying dozens of VHS tapes, DVD discs, and Blu-ray discs. (Photo by Gavin Arucan)

The theater is run by the duo simply known to the community as Dwight and Jaynie, who maintain a friendly and welcoming relationship with their regular customers. Dwight and Jaynie know their customers on a first-name basis.

The Movie Museum first opened in 1988 as a popular video rental spot as well as a theater. Dwight took over the ownership in 1991 and has kept the business running since. Although its prominence as a video rental spit has dwindled over the years, film lovers still take up all 19 seats in the theater for most showings. Dwight thinks of Kaimukī as a “community of artists,” so the art of film is loved by most of the community. Some of the regular customers include film professors and people who once worked in the film industry. Some moviegoers even come from as far as Wai‘anae for the experience that is wholly unique to the Movie Museum.

Most of the films shown are in foreign languages with subtitles. Other than the Movie Museum, only Consolidated Theatres Kāhala shows those types of films, although not even Kāhala delves into the such obscure films that the Movie Museum does. Dwight will go out of his way to screen films that no other theater would dare play. “A Man Called Ove” is a Swedish film (in both Swedish and Persian languages with English subtitles) that was nominated for this this year’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It will be playing at the Movie Museum on Feb. 10 and 11. “The Handmaiden” is a beautiful Korean film that will have five showings on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The Movie Museum is much more of a passion project than a business because the movies it plays are niche and not as appealing to the general public. Dwight is much more concerned with sharing movies for the sake of art rather than money.

“It’s not a business. Well, it is a business, but it’s really my passion to let people watch these movies,” Dwight said.

Dwight chooses films that he deems as good and special to show and loves to stay in certain themes throughout the month. The themes may not be as obvious as say, playing a few movies in the same genre, but one might see the “a certain director or writer popping up a few times a week.” Dwight also likes to play movies that might bring more focus on current events. The theme for the month of February is Oscar-related movies. “Arrival” (Feb. 18), “Hacksaw Ridge” (Feb. 24 and Feb. 26) and “Manchester by the Sea” (Feb. 25) were all nominated for Best Picture and will play later this month.

“We love female filmmakers here,” Dwight said. “We try to show as many female-directed films as possible.”

The Movie Museum has around four to six showings a day from Thursday to Monday. Admission costs $4 for children and seniors and $5 for general admission, so it is a great place for moviegoers who can’t afford the prices of bigger theater chains. There are only 19 reclining seats in the theater, so reserving tickets over the phone is highly recommended. The Movie Museum is also able to be rented on Tuesday and Wednesday for $325 for four hours as long as the reservation is made a month in advance. When people rent the theater, they are able to play any movie they want in the four-hour time limit. There are no snacks for sale, although you might find some mangoes to buy if they’re in season, so moviegoers may bring in their own food as long as it isn’t disruptive to others in the audience.

The Movie Museum even offers an annual membership for $26. Members are able to rent movies for free and bring two guests to screenings, so all three people see the film for a total of $4.

The Movie Museum’s monthly schedule and phone number can be found on its website.