By Karina Valdes

The Bill Cosford Cinema is getting a much-deserved facelift after serving the Coral Gables community for almost two decades. Two grants from the Knight Foundation have been directed toward upgrading the cinema’s screening systems, revitalizing its programming, and developing structural plans for a complete redesign of the space.

“Our Cosford Cinema remains a treasure, leveraging the talent within our school in collaboration with community partners and friends. The generous support offered by the Knight Foundation allows us to shine brighter by providing critical enhancements to our digital infrastructure and cultural programming,” said Karin Wilkins, dean of the School of Communication. “We truly appreciate this partnership, which benefits the many in our audiences who participate in our film screenings and events. Together, we are building more than just a theater; we are creating a community space for shared experience and thoughtful dialogue,” said Karin Wilkins, dean of the School of Communication.”

The art-house cinema, located on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus, received a grant from the Knight Foundation in 2022 that has been designated to overhauling its infrastructure.

“When the Knight Foundation notified me of this arts grant, I was super thrilled because I don’t think that the Cosford Cinema has ever received a grant for infrastructure improvements. We earn many grants for programming, but we haven’t received a grant for infrastructure improvements, much less one this large,” said Rene Rodriguez, Bill Cosford Cinema manager.

Apart from the infrastructure grant, Rodriguez earned a 2022 Knight Arts Champion Award that came with a pay-it-forward grant to an art-fostering entity in Miami of his choosing. He chose to gift the grant to the Bill Cosford Cinema.

“At the ceremony, when I was named a Knights Arts Champion, Alberto Ibargüen kind of chuckled when he said, ‘Rene Rodriguez from the Cosford Cinema has chosen to give the award to’ and then he paused and said ‘the Cosford Cinema’,” Rodriguez recalled. “It made sense to me because the cinema needs the funds just as much as any other arts organization and my mission is to continue to revitalize it and make it a central arts hub for Coral Gables and the city of Miami at large.”

With funds from the Knight Foundation grants, the projector used to teach cinematic arts classes was recently replaced with a brand new, state-of-the-art projector that provides a much brighter, sharper image. The cinema’s sound system was also upgraded with a new Dolby Digital 7.1 processor and 14 new speakers.

“The Department of Cinematic Arts emphasizes film expertise in the context of narrative innovation, social change, and emergent technologies,” said Dia Kontaxis, chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts. “Cinema is understood as a cultural practice involving both critical thinking and experiential know-how. The recent technology upgrades at the Cosford Cinema allow us to continue to deliver state-of-the-art theatrical exhibition as both part of our curriculum and our student experience.”

Within the scope of the broad renovation efforts that include structural and technological upgrades, visitors to the Cosford’s website will soon see a fresh, redesigned site. Additionally, a giant electronic marquee displaying programming at the cinema is replacing the current analog poster frames.

For attendees who wear hearing aids with telecoil technology, a LOOP system was installed that allows users to tune into the broadcasted sound in the cinema on their personal devices and to set the volume to a level that is comfortable to them. The LOOP system filters out background noise by sending the broadcasted sound directly to the hearing device.

Apart from these enhancements, the awarded funds are also being used to elevate programming. This past spring and summer, the cinema hosted two weekly series inspired by the 2022 Sight and Sound Greatest Films of All Time list. For the fall, movie-goers can catch a screening from this semester’s series, Deep Cuts from the Sight & Sound List, every Sunday at 1 p.m. from Sept. 10-Dec. 3.

In addition to these substantial upgrades to the cinema’s technology and programming, the space itself is also in the planning stages for a complete renovation. Part of the funds were used to hire architects who drafted a comprehensive redesign of the Bill Cosford Cinema. The new design maximizes the space, adds a study area and a library, and replaces the current seating with foldaway stadium seats that will allow the venue to be used for things other than screenings, such as concerts or live theater. The remodel is intentionally designed to suit the needs of students, while at the same time creating an inviting space for the local community to enjoy a screening or event.

“We’ve already amassed a brand-new mailing list of more than 4,000 people who receive a weekly email of screenings and events. I began culling this list when I started managing the Cosford and I have been growing our audience for forward facing screenings. People come and check us out for one movie and they really like the experience because you always get more than just a movie at the Cosford,” said Rodriguez.

Before every screening, Rodriguez greets the audience, gives a quick presentation centering around the film and, after the film, he engages with the audience for a Q&A.

“People love to discuss what they’ve just seen, especially when it’s a really thoughtful film that gives you things to talk about. I always insert an informative slant to these screenings, with both the public and the students in mind. When you come here to see a movie, unless it’s a preview screening of a movie that isn’t in theaters yet, you get more than just a movie; you get an experience that involves context and discussion,” explained Rodriguez.

The Bill Cosford Cinema is continuing its commitment to bringing diverse and unique experiences to audiences with the Watching Movies With… series that invites local thought leaders to pick a movie and then engage in a Q&A moderated by Rodriguez. Featuring Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Gloria Estefan, Kareem Tabsch, and Connie Ogle, this semester’s series encourages thoughtful conversations on a variety of topics. Visit for a complete list of events. All screenings and events are free for students with a Cane Card. Follow on Instagram at

The Bill Cosford Cinema, originally called the Beaumont Cinema, was renamed in 1995 after the 1994 passing of Bill Cosford, Miami Herald film critic and adjunct professor. With a gift from Cosford’s mother, Mary, in 1994, the cinema received significant upgrades including a new sound system and projector equipment. The cinema has not undergone extensive structural improvements since then.

Visit to view a multimedia feature on the Cosford Cinema.