The Athena Cinema has announced this year’s lineup of classic films for its eighth annual Holiday Film Series, sponsored by Ohio University. Beginning on Thursday, Dec. 5, and concluding Dec. 19, the series offers free admission to holiday movies in exchange for food or cash donations benefiting area food pantries.

The first movie screening will take place the evening of Thursday, Dec. 5, at 7 p.m., with a screening of the 1964 short “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Following last year’s success, the Athena Cinema will kick off the event series on the evening of the Athens Uptown Business Association (AUBA) Uptown for the Holidays event. This year’s AUBA event also features wagon rides, visits with Santa, and music.

The second screening will feature “Elf” at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. On Saturday, Dec.14, the theater will show “The Polar Express” at 1 and 3 p.m, as well as a special evening screening of “Gremlins” at 7 and 9 p.m. The series will wrap up on Thursday, Dec. 19, with a screening of “It’s A Wonderful Life” at 7 p.m.

“This year we are so excited to screen the original stop-motion ‘Rudolph’ for our kickoff night,” Athena Cinema Director Alexandra Kamody said. “We’ve wanted to play this film for years but made for television content is particularly hard to secure licensing for, so this is an exciting opportunity.”

Price of admission to each screening will be a non-perishable food item or cash donation per ticket, benefiting area families in need. Tickets will be available one week before each scheduled screening, and issued at the time of the donation. Donations may be dropped off during regular Athena lobby hours, Monday through Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 2:30 to 10 p.m.

The purpose of the Holiday Series initiative is to give back to the greater Athens community and families in need during the season.

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