And... Action!

And... Action!

There’s Best Video, the 30-year-old movie rental shop nearing the end of a long theatrical run in Hamden. And there’s the sequel, already in production: the Best Video Film and Cultural Center, an emerging not-for-profit vision for how a world-class, brick-and-mortar film collection can persist in an online streaming world.

With more than 30,000 curated titles—roughly triple the size of Netflix’s streaming library, and with much better movies and TV shows on the whole—the collection’s already a vision to behold. Between no-frills drop ceiling and wall-to-wall carpeting are lots of frills: cascading rows of thin, colorful DVD spines punctuated by quirky decor elements, setting scenes for dialogue between characters like Hank Hoffman, a longtime store employee who’s the president of the drive to turn Best Video into a non-profit, and neighborhood cinephiles looking for something good to watch.

sponsored by

Shop for Mother's Day at The Shops at Yale

One of them is Heidi Hamilton, a lawyer whose sister, the actress LisaGay Hamilton, played one for 130 episodes of The Practice (and was a doctor, too, for a couple episodes of Grey’s Anatomy). “I’ve lived in Hamden for 17 years, and for 17 years I’ve been coming to Best Video,” Heidi says, which explains why she’s become the interim executive director of the budding Film and Cultural Center.

Recently taken under the wing of the Institute Library in New Haven, which is acting as a conduit for official donations while the Best Video non-profiters dot and cross the necessary i’s and t’s, Hoffman sums the effort up this way: “to essentially make this, in legal terms, what it’s always been in practice: a community cultural center.”

Best Video
1842 Whitney Ave, Hamden (map)
Sun-Tues 9am-9pm, Wed-Sat 9am-10pm
(203) 287-9286

Written and photographed by Dan Mims.

More Stories