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As supporters continue to battle for MDC's Tower Theater, Miami commission stands firm

 The Miami Dade College Tower Theater
Miami Dade College
The Miami Dade College Tower Theater

Supporters of the Tower Theater have not given up on their fight to keep the Little Havana arthouse cinema under the management of Miami Dade College, as it has been for 20 years.

Two weeks after the announcement that the city would be taking over the beloved theater's management, one of the movement's organizers said officials "have to listen to the people" — and interrupted a commission meeting to speak out against the move.

Filmmaker Chris Molina, who started the petition "Save Tower Theater!," presented himself in front of the city of Miami commission, even though the theater issue wasn't on their agenda.

"I'm here on the behalf of 7000 petition signers who are in favor of keeping Miami Dade College managing Tower Theater. And we're all incredibly happy with the way that Tower Theater is being run currently. We appreciate the culture that Miami Dade College has injected into our community and we would love to see it continue," he said, during a public comment time dedicated to items due to be discussed that day.

City of Miami commissioner Joe Carollo, who represents the district where the theater is located, was present for Molina's remarks for city officials. In a brief response, he challenged Molina's approach and defended the city's move.

"It's not fair for many others that are coming for items that are on the agenda to have to wait more time for some to come and speak on items that are not on the agenda," he said. "And by the way, the Tower Theater, [whether it is] run by the city or not, will be having films also."

Miami filmmaker Chris Molina, one of the organizers of the movement to keep Tower Theater under the management of Miami Dade College, speaks at a protest on Oct. 4
Helen Acevedo
Miami filmmaker Chris Molina, one of the organizers of the movement to keep Tower Theater under the management of Miami Dade College, speaks at a protest on Oct. 4

Last week, Carollo announced the city's plans for the theater, saying it would double as a touristic center for Little Havana while continuing to show some foreign language films as well as hosting plays and art exhibitions.

Speaking after the meeting, Molina said "it's unfortunate that the commissioners aren't understanding or swaying with the community or siding with the community."

He added that the concern isn't whether or not movies will be shown, but rather the type of movies that are screened.

"Miami Dade College has done a great job programming the theater and filling it with movies that are getting recognition all over the world," he said. "I don't believe that the city has the resources or the funds to manage a theater so thoughtfully the way that Miami Dade College has done."

Moving forward, Molina says that he and the supporters of MDC's Tower Theater will continue to try to make their voices heard, have people sign the petition, and do what they can to save it.

"Sooner or later, the commissioners are going to have to listen to the people," he added.

Helen Acevedo, a freelance producer, is a grad student at Florida International University studying Spanish-language journalism, a bilingual program focused on telling the stories of diverse communities.
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