Sunday, October 07, 2012

Granville Cinemas shutting down

I mustn't be the only person who saw this coming. The Empire Theatres Granville location - AKA the Granville Seven, currently housing the VIFF - is shutting down in a few weeks time... but to be absolutely honest, if it weren't for the VIFF - which absolutely, positively needs a space like the Granville Seven to flourish - I wouldn't be at all moved. I think, in fact, my last attempt to see a (non-VIFF) movie there was a second-run screening of The Grey, and it was frustrated by an annoying labour-saving policy that made ticket buyers line up at the concession stand, to vie with the popcorn people for entry; I stood in a needlessly long line for a few minutes, decided I felt offended, then reconsidered and walked out. Before that... I know I saw Darren Aronofsky's 2006 film The Fountain, or started to, there, until there was a technical error that stopped the screening at midpoint; they offered us refunds and I leapt at the chance (since the film was so baaad). I think I've seen one or two (non-VIFF) movies there subsequent to that - I think I caught Monkey Warfare there! - but those too were beset with technical difficulties, and I've long since written it off as a cinematic backwater best avoided.

The only sad part is that it's a great space if properly used - as the VIFF abundantly demonstrates; it would surely do much better if it had adventuresome programming all year round, rather than poorly projected, cut-rate multiplex leftovers of films that anyone with any interest in has already seen, sprinkled with the odd "repertory screenings" of films that are easily available on DVD (or circulating in the torrentsphere). Really, the surprise here is that they survived as long as they did, all things considered; they didn't actually offer an alternative to the programming at other cinemas, just more of the same, with less quality, after the blush was gone. I'll save my mourning for The Ridge... 

Meantime, here's a positive suggestion for the city of Vancouver - why not buy the space and, when not housing festivals, hire local filmmakers and cinephiles of note to curate repertory screenings on a rotating basis, to support Vancouver culture? Treat it as a place to program fare too risky or controversial for the Vancity or the Cinematheque... I for one would make a trek to the city to see Cinema Sewer week onscreen, or if someone brought Kier-la back for a Cinemuerte or two. Give Adrian Mack a shot at programming a week of Eurotrash, or Alex Mackenzie a week of experimental cinema, or run programs curated by the likes of  Graham Peat, Michael Turner, Yuriko Iga, Susanne Tabata, Leonard Schein, Elvy Del Bianco, the VIVO people, even, um, ME. Hell, even though my recent experiences of Film Studies at UBC left me kind of pissed off and hurt, there is enough talent that has come from that university alone - Bruce Sweeney, Lynne Stopkewich, Mina Shum, Reg Harkema, Tom Scholte, and a dozen other filmmakers and actors that I'm missing, that you could program a months' worth of cinema there. Treat it like the art gallery - a place to support local culture, either by playing BC films, or having BC notables curate events... 

It won't happen, of course, but it would make a lot more sense than letting the space stand derelict for a year... and it would give the arts in Vancouver a badly needed shot in the arm. Anything but another bloody nightclub, okay? 

...One wonders what the VIFF will do in 2013?

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