An audience sits in the dark looking at a movie screen filled with a fiery image from Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer (2023).
A packed house for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer (2023) at Cornell Cinema in December 2023.

About Us

Established in 1970 as a university film society, Cornell Cinema is a long-standing and celebrated film exhibition program located on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The cinema presents a wide variety of films each semester, including Hollywood films, documentaries, silent films, international, art-house, and experimental media work, cult classics, and other repertory titles. It also offers regular opportunities for audiences to discuss films and the relevant social, political, and artistic questions they raise in conversation with filmmakers, scholars, community leaders, and cinema staff.


The cinema operates four to five nights per week in the historic Willard Straight Theatre, which is centrally located on the campus of Cornell University and open to the general public. The organization is managed by four professional staff members and supported by a team of more than 25 students who coordinate all front-of-house operations.

A group of people watching a movie inside a darken Gothic church.


Cornell Cinema is dedicated to expanding access to and fostering deeper appreciation of moving image work by filmmakers from across the globe. We present cinema experiences that catalyze critical conversation and connect diverse communities from across Cornell University, the city of Ithaca, and the Finger Lakes region. Working in collaboration with partners across campus and beyond, Cornell Cinema seeks to spark curiosity, inspire understanding, and advance interdisciplinary teaching through collective encounters with the art of film.

Black and white logo for New York State Council on the Arts

Cornell Cinema is a program of the Department of Performing & Media Arts in the College of Arts & Sciences at Cornell University. 

It receives major funding support from the College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate & Professional Student Assembly. Additional support is provided by the Cornell Council for the Arts.

Cornell Cinema's programs are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Cornell Cinema panel


Cornell Cinema presents more than 75 films each semester and each semester-long schedule features an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic titles from across the globe. Many films are introduced by faculty or graduate students, feature guest appearances by visiting filmmakers, and are presented in collaboration with Cornell courses, academic departments, and research centers.

 As a core part of our educational mission, we organize thematic series that explore the history of cinema as an industry and artform, offer a deeper understanding of the politics of image-making, and celebrate the work of filmmakers from across the globe. In our programming, we prioritize films that would not otherwise be available in the region and whose subjects resonate with the diverse interests, experiences, and  concerns of our local communities.

Cornell Cinema is one of only a handful of cultural institutions in the region that can present analogue film formats as well as the highest quality digital cinema. Therefore, we also focus on exposing audiences to a variety of film formats, including 35mm, 16mm, silent films with live musical accompaniment, DCP, and more.

Two men standing before audience with Cornell Cinema logo behind them.


Cornell Cinema has wheelchair and companion seating inside its theatre, and a lift to move from the outer to the inner lobby. Mobility-impaired patrons are encouraged to use this lift, as there are a number of stairs down to the inner lobby and the theatre entrance. The inner lobby also includes an accessible, gender-neutral washroom.

Cornell Cinema also has assistive listening headsets and closed caption readers available for checkout at the Box Office. Not all titles include descriptive audio or closed captions, but those that do will have this information noted on the individual film’s page within a week of its showdate. To check out one of these devices, please leave an ID with the Box Office.

Land Acknowledgement

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York state, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ people, past and present, to these lands and waters.

This land acknowledgment has been reviewed and approved by the traditional Gayogo̱hó:nǫɁ leadership. You can learn more about Cornell University's Land Acknowledgment through the American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program website.


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