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Westport Group Dreams of a Big Screen

Westport residents Gene Seidman, Doug Tirola, Moshe Aelyon and John Sabino are part of the Westport Community Cinema Initiative, a group of film buffs serious about bringing a movie theater back to Westport.

"It struck me as odd that Westport has the Westport Country Playhouse but no movie theater," said Sabino, senior vice president of commercial operations at NBC Universal. "I'll do anything you need to help."

During their monthly meeting Wednesday night, Sabino, Seidman, Tirola, Aelyon and the others involved with the group, which was started by Jonathan Steinberg this year, discussed how to move forward in achieving their goal.

"Our ultimate goal is to create a permanent home for cinema," said Steinberg. "Another longing is to create a greater sense of community. How we get there is something we've been wrangling with."

That's why Steinberg and principal member Sandy Lefkowitz had those present at the meeting break into small groups, each of which was tasked to come up with solutions regarding a business plan and fundraising, marketing and public relations, and programming.

"I think we need to have a place: a vision people can give to," said David Waldman, a local developer, regarding the fundraiser efforts. "We need to have a venue in mind. Without a venue, we're nothing."

In presenting ideas, Seidman, a member of the RTM, suggested creating WCCI buttons for members to wear around town as a way to create interest.

"I'd be happy to get these made. It's easy to do," Seidman said. "It can really catapult us and catch fire."

In addition to buttons, Steinberg talked about the possibility of starting a Facebook page as another tool to generate awareness.

"We need to get people talking about this. People need to start asking, 'What is this?'" Steinberg said. "It's about creating a community in Westport."

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