A new documentary about the struggle of small town cinema might be just the ticket to fill more seats in these quaint and historic venues - like the Royal Theatre in Trail. Monday (Sept. 25) at 5 p.m. the Royal Theatre is screening, “Out of the Interior; Survival of the small-town cinema in British Columbia,” and theatre owner Lisa Milne encourages locals to come and show support. (Sheri Regnier photo)

A new documentary about the struggle of small town cinema might be just the ticket to fill more seats in these quaint and historic venues - like the Royal Theatre in Trail. Monday (Sept. 25) at 5 p.m. the Royal Theatre is screening, “Out of the Interior; Survival of the small-town cinema in British Columbia,” and theatre owner Lisa Milne encourages locals to come and show support. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Royal Theatre among cinemas featured in doc

Community encouraged to see small town cinema documentary Monday in Trail

A new documentary about the struggle of small town cinema might be just the ticket to fill more seats in these quaint and historic venues – like the Royal Theatre in Trail.

Monday at 5 p.m. the Royal Theatre is screening, “Out of the Interior; Survival of the small-town cinema in British Columbia,” and theatre owner Lisa Milne encourages locals to come and show support.

“This movie is really special and helps portray how awesome small town movie theatres are,” Milne told the Trail Times. “The filmmakers, Curtis and Silmara Emde, are so passionate about this project and keeping small town cinema alive … They made their trek to the Kootenays in the summer of 2016 and interviewed myself, and filmed for a full day within the Royal.”

Milne says that global box office attendance fell an historical 14 per cent this past summer, and the Royal Theatre was hit hard by the downturn as well.

The Emdes are passionate about portraying the importance of small town theatres and their value to the community, she said.

“It was a perfect opportunity for us at the Royal to partake in this documentary as we have learned firsthand what it takes to operate such an important part of community history.”

They talked about today’s cinema challenges like the struggle with studios to be more adaptable to trends such as online downloading, Netflix and home theatres.

“Our movie theatre has to keep up and compete with this on a daily basis, and we are always trying new ways to diversify our screen and showcase a variety of content,” Milne said.

“We have some of the best sound and visual capabilities anywhere in the country. We are proud of what the Royal Theatre has become and would love to see a full house on Monday when the film plays.”

Anyone who appreciates small town theatres should really see this movie, tickets are $5 at the door.

Something viewers will take away from the documentary is the bond small town movie theatres have with the community.

”It’s often the place where a first date happens, maybe even that first kiss,” Milne shared.

“You come as a child with your parents, and feel ‘grown-up’ when you’re allowed to finally go alone with friends for that first time. You come to escape reality for a couple of hours, where you can cry, laugh or just sit back and enjoy the action.”

The feature is 72 minutes, and includes footage from classic movie theatres in Interior B.C., from Vernon’s Towne Cinema to The Tivoli in Creston; and from Grand Forks’ 100-year old “GEM Theatre” to Revelstoke’s Roxy – and every stop along the way including of course, the Royal Theatre.

The filmmakers delve into the history of public film exhibition in the province, celebrate the communal movie-going experience in the present, and offer a glimpse of the movie house’s future in the digital age.

The documentary is also a tribute to the hard-working men and women of the region who keep the popcorn hot and movies flickering on screens.

In recent years, major Canadian cities have seen the demise of many long-standing single-screen movie houses. In quick succession, Vancouver lost the Hollywood, Denman and Ridge theatres.

In Burnaby, Surrey, Victoria and Kelownamarquee lights were permanently switched off, suggesting an alarming trend: British Columbia is losing its historic cinemas.

Curtis and Silmara Emde, a Vancouver-based husband and wife photography and video production team, started documenting this transitional period through a series of articles, photography exhibits and short-form videos. This work became the basis of their multi-media Projection Project (www.projectionproject.com).

They discovered that the switch from traditional 35mm film to digital projection was a major factor in many of the recent closings. The costs of digital conversion was prohibitive for independent venues already struggling with dwindling audiences and diminishing box office returns.

And yet, some theatres in smaller B.C. cities and towns managed the huge outlay for new equipment and are thriving. And, venues which had been closed, like Vernon’s Towne and the Civic Theatre in Nelson, were successfully re-opened.

It seems that something beyond the switch to digital projection was keeping these cinemas of the southern interior going. But what, exactly?

To find out, Silmara and Curtis hit the road, travelling through the Kootenay, Okanagan, Boundary, Columbia Valley and Shuswap regions to make a documentary that would seek to answer some key questions: what makes cinemas in smaller communities succeed; and how fragile is this success, given that several theatres of the interior are currently for sale.

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read