Bridging generations through movies (and podcasts)

Bridging generations through movies (and podcasts)
Raj Tawney, the director of publicity for the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. (Photo courtesy of Raj Tawney)

Raj Tawney wants to pass on old stories to a new generation.

For Tawney, the director of publicity at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington and a resident of Port Washington, said that usually means screening classic movies from the first part of the 20th century.

But recently, he has passed on stories through another medium entirely: podcasts.

“There are so many stories to share from people who helped grow the Cinema Arts Centre into what it is today,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to capture those stories because when they are no longer with us, these stories will die with these people.”

The result was “Cinema Stories,” a podcast where Tawney interviews people who helped found the cinema, played a role in the industry or have ties to a film screening at the Cinema Arts Centre.

Earlier this year, the “Cinema Stories” was named best podcast by the Press Club of Long Island.

Among his favorite episodes were an interview with the granddaughter of W.C. Fields, an early film star, and an interview with Charlotte Sky, the Centre’s co-director who helped to found it in 1973.

“She co-founded it with no money,” Tawney said. “She fought hard to make this place what it is, she rallied to get community support, and now it’s seen as the gold standard for a New York arts organization.”

All of the podcast’s episodes can be found on the Cinema Arts Centre’s Soundcloud page.

The success of the podcast is part of a big year for Tawney, who recently moved to Port Washington.

“I just moved to Port and I love it so far,” he said. “I wanted to be part of the community because I have some friends in the area and couple of my favorite restaurants in the town. I love the cinema, I love the library, it feels like I’m really home.”

Tawney recently hosted an event at Soundview Cinema in Port with the Gold Coast Arts Center commemorating the 60th anniversary of “Pal Joey” starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Kim Novak.

Tawney had Sinatra’s granddaughter as a guest for the film’s screening.

“There was a line to get in,” he said. “All my friends and family came over to my place after, it was a fantastic introduction to Port Washington.”

He said that his love for classic movies came from the viewing habits of his family.

“My passion comes from growing up with a lot of family and seniors in my life, older generations who exposed me to these old film and and connected me with them,” he said.

His current top three favorite films — although he said it changes frequently — are 1943’s “Shadow of a Doubt,” 1960’s “Ocean’s 11” and 1972’s “The Godfather.”

For Tawney, these classic films have a magic that is hard to replicate.

I get into this conversation a lot about if the old ones are better than the new ones,” he said. “I think there was a lot more charm in the actors and performances and the people creating those films.”

Nonetheless, he believes that there are still plenty of great films being produced every year.

“As you look at some of the films up for awards this year, they are really taking storytelling to a whole other level,” Tawney said. “Each era has their great moments, and I think we’re in the midst of some filmmaking geniuses. Every generation has its masters.”

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  1. Great Article.
    Really enjoyed reading it and very happy and thrilled that a youngster is taking an active part in bridging the generation gap via latest technology using podcast.
    Looking forward to seeing more youngsters staying on Long Island ang getting involved.


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