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Mission & History

“I’m at one of the most interesting cultural events I’ve been to in years. It’s at a new art-house movie theater in Omaha. Fellini’s masterpiece Amarcord is just ending. A group of artists from around the world is going to discuss how their work compares to this celebration of small town life. The movie theater, Film Streams’ Ruth Sokolof Theater, is a marvel.” 

— NPR Planet Money, June 3, 2011

Founded in 2005, Film Streams' mission is to enhance the cultural environment of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form.

Our Story: 

On July 27, 2007, following a successful start-up capital campaign supported by individuals, families, foundations, and corporations throughout the Omaha area, we opened our two-screen home, the Ruth Sokolof Theater, within a North Downtown development anchored by music label Saddle Creek Records. 

Pivotal early support for Film Streams came from the Sokolof-Javitch family, whose naming gift memorializes Ruth Sokolof, a longtime educator and helping hand to those in need.

In our first decade of operations, we presented nearly 500 first-run American independents, international films, and documentaries and returned 800 classics to the big screen through our dedicated repertory program. We staged over 200 collaborative screenings with fellow nonprofits and community groups, hosted over 100 special screenings with visiting filmmakers and guest artists, and showed two-dozen silent films with live musical accompaniment. All the while, our Daytime Education Program grew exponentially, now serving thousands of students annually from schools and districts throughout the region.

“Film Streams has its ambitions. Both the movie house and its extensive offerings are the sort of resources one expects to stumble upon happily in second-city American metropolises — Seattle, Dallas, Philadelphia, even Washington or Chicago.”

—The New York Times, March 16, 2008

First held in 2008 at the nearby Holland Performing Arts Center, our Feature gala has become an exciting  cultural event in Omaha and wonderful source of support for our programming. An ideal marriage of mission and fundraising, the event brings acclaimed filmmakers to Omaha for conversations about their careers and perspectives on the medium. Special guests, all invited by Alexander Payne, have included Laura Dern, Debra Winger, Steven Soderbergh, Jane Fonda, the leads of Nebraska (Bruce Dern, Will Forte, and June Squibb), David O. Russell, and Julianne Moore. Twice (Feature III and Feature V), bestselling author, public radio host, and Film Streams Advisory Board Member Kurt Andersen joined the fun as guest interviewer.

In 2012, with the support and guidance of an amazing and forward-thinking board of directors, Film Streams purchased the portion of our North Downtown building that houses the Ruth Sokolof Theater, securing our North Downtown home and lessening our organization’s fixed operating costs for investment in film programs. 

By early 2017, more than half a million patrons had experienced Film Streams’ programming — and the biggest development since we opened the Ruth Sokolof Theater was in the works. In February 2017, thanks to a transformational gift of property from The Sherwood Foundation, Film Streams began work renovating Omaha’s 92-year-old Dundee Theater, Omaha's last surviving single-screen neighborhood cinema, with plans to reopen it by year’s end.

The Dundee Theater, 1941. The John Savage Collection © Omaha World-Herald.

That the Dundee now approaches its second century of showing movies – and joins the Ruth Sokolof Theater as Film Streams’ second location – is a testament to our community’s support and passion for movies that inspire, entertain, provoke, and inform. 

We are thrilled that its history now becomes part of our own, and take on this new challenge with both a tremendous sense of responsibility and great excitement for the future of movies in Omaha. 

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