Booth is coming to a theater near you, literally

Cinema on the Sound is a an independent movie theater that opened on City Island in May 2022.
Photo ET Rodriguez

Late this spring, a 50-seat movie theater opened in the small community of City Island called Cinema on the Sound, making it the only movie theater on the island and one of only three movie venues in the Bronx.

Since then, the theater has been screening classic films, horror movies, indies and has even hosted plays and dancing.

“The cinema is really gaining speed. I’m actually getting a lot of inquiries from filmmakers all over the country,” the theater’s film curator, Jerry Landi, told the Bronx Times.

And to add to the eclectic lineup, on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., Cinema on the Sound will be screening, “The Confession of John Wilkes Booth” – a 2021 live filming of a play with its namesake. Written in 2012 by John Ramaine, who is also the director and lead actor, “The Confession of John Wilkes Booth” takes place in 1903 and follows the story of “an old man claiming to be John Wilkes Booth who weaves an incredible tale of his escape from Garret’s barn and the subsequent coverup to the mistaken identity of Lincoln’s assassin.”

Booth was a famous theater actor and said to be devastatingly handsome, but is infamous for the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the U.S. Booth sided with the Confederacy and blamed Lincoln for the Civil War. Booth initially intended to kidnap Lincoln, but when his plan was foiled, he hatched up a new one — to assassinate the president.

Jay Booth, who lives on City Island, is the great-great nephew of John Wilkes Booth. Photo ET Rodriguez

Ramaine says that the inspiration to write the play came from a 1991 episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” – a hit mystery-documentary television series. The episode features historians as well as historical documents and testimonies that debate whether the man who was captured and killed by the government as retaliation for Lincoln’s assassination, was in fact John Wilkes Booth. More than 100 years after his alleged death, an exhumation was requested to conduct DNA testing to confirm the identity of the person buried in Booth’s grave, but it was denied by the court. Booth is recorded as having died in 1869 and buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. Both facts are still argued to this day.

"The Confession of John Wilkes Booth” is a play about the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Booth and a filmed version will be screening at Cinema on the Sound on Nov. 19.
“The Confession of John Wilkes Booth” is a play about the conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Booth and a filmed version will be screening at Cinema on the Sound on Nov. 19. Courtesy Cinema on the Sound

Ramaine will be present for a Q&A after the 88-minute screening and will be accompanied by special guest Jay Booth — John Wilkes Booth’s great-great nephew. Jay Booth is a 74-year-old man with a charming demeanor who grew up in New Jersey and has been living on City Island for the past 10 years. He is excited for the screening as it will allow the audience to “speculate on history in a different way,” Jay Booth says.

Unlike his long-deceased relative, Booth’s political views are more progressive siding with the views of the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. When asked about former President Donald Trump’s recently announced 2024 campaign, Booth frowned and shook his head, but added, “it’s a misnomer to think that Trump is the problem – it’s the financial elite.” This adds to the tongue-in-cheek slug of the movie which reads: “The government made its case, and the government doesn’t lie to its people.”

Booth’s son Jason Edwin Booth (Edwin was the name of John Wilkes’ brother) will also be part of the Q&A on Saturday.

Reach ET Rodriguez at [email protected]. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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