News | West Harlem

Filmmaker, CU alum, donates $5 million to M'ville arts center

Manhattanville’s Lenfest Center for the Arts will include a state-of-the-art screening room, thanks to a $5 million donation from Katharina Otto-Bernstein, CC ’86, SoA ’92, an award-winning filmmaker.

The screening room, to be named after Otto-Bernstein, will include seating for approximately 150 people, feature digital cinema technology, and host special screenings and panels, many of which will be open to the public, according to a School of the Arts statement.

“Katharina has always been mindful of supporting future generations of Columbia filmmakers seeking to follow in her footsteps, and in doing so she has symbolized the kind of citizenship in this community and beyond that Columbia strives to teach,” University President Lee Bollinger said in the statement.

Otto-Bernstein has premiered her films at Sundance Film Festival. She is best known for her documentaries “Absolute Wilson” and “Beautopia” and received the Columbia University Alumni Medal of Achievement in 2009.

The Lenfest building is slated to open in 2016—one of the first buildings to be completed on the Manhattanville campus. Although the project’s original plan included a film screening center, an art gallery, and performance spaces, Otto-Bernstein’s donation is the first to go toward a specific component of the building.

The announcement came the same day as the University’s Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner. At last year’s Hamilton Dinner, University trustee Gerry Lenfest pledged $30 million to fund the building’s construction—the largest gift ever made for the arts at Columbia.

Otto-Bernstein said in a statement, “It is with great joy that I find myself in the position to give back to the institution that has played an immeasurable role in my development as a filmmaker and as a person.”

jillian.kumagai@columbiaspectator.com

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rick131 posted on

Congratulations to all! Sounds fantastic.

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Anonymous posted on

Is Lenfest a functional and pragmatic facility built for SOA students or an architectural encomium to university elites?

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Anonymous posted on

The former, paid for by some of our wealthy alumni. Stop whining.

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dcj2112 posted on

That is a nice chunk of change!

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