St. Frances image

A still image from the newly released independent film “St. Frances,” which became available for streaming at the Athena Cinema last Friday.


During this time of social distancing, home entertainment has never been a more valuable prescription for keeping everybody from losing their collective minds.

Venues and services from across the spectrum of entertainment have been finding creative ways to stream entertainment at home that you’d normally have to drive to see. Locally the Athena Cinema has joined that global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Athena closed its doors in March in response to the statewide order closing many businesses and entertainment venues.

This past week, the Athena – which is run by the Ohio University College of Fine Arts – started making newly released independent films available for streaming, through its Virtual Cinema Screenings program.

“Nothing can replace seeing a film at the Athena but we were thrilled to find a way to stay connected with our audiences during this time,” said Alexandra Kamody, director of the Athena Cinema. “The Virtual Cinema Screenings give us a way to continue programming exciting, new films that deserve to be seen and aren’t available on other streaming platforms.”

As of last week, the Athena staff had curated three newly released films that became available this past Friday. According to a message on the Athena website, “When you rent one of these films you are not only supporting independent film but also supporting the Athena Cinema and our mission.”

Virtual cinema screenings, according to the Athena, are ticketed screenings of films unavailable on any other video on demand platform that viewers can enjoy from the privacy of their own home. Once a customer purchases a ticket at, he or she will receive access to a temporary film rental.

This program serves an important purpose, according to the Athena: “Virtual screenings allow theaters to keep programming films, even when their doors are closed. A portion of each ticket sale will go directly to the buyer’s local art house cinema.”

Kamody said the Athena Cinema has received tremendous support from the Athena community “and are looking forward to continuing to serve our patrons high-quality, independent film.”

Under the program, for $12, a viewer gets access to watch the selected film on any Internet-connected device, including laptops, tablets and smartphones, AppleTV, Chromecast and more.

After the viewer enters his or her payment information, the rental period will start immediately and last for three days.

The three films available beginning last Friday are “St. Francis,” “Bucurau” and “Corpus Christi.” Write-ups on each film can be found at The theater will be replacing available films on its usual schedule.

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