Arthouse theatre revival during Covid-19

Civic Theatre Staff
March 31, 2020
A team of dreamers who love the art of cinema. We're passionate about film and are thrilled that we get to share the magic of movies with you.

The current pandemic may have darkened our cinema’s big screen, but The Civic Theatre’s programming very much continues on. We’ve been working tirelessly to be agile, innovative and adaptable during this time and are proud to announce that we’ve now launched weekly virtual screenings across our audience’s small screens instead. Moviegoers can now watch Civic titles on smart TVs, computers, phones and tablets from the comfort of their Kootenay homes, and beyond! This type of online delivery is also being offered by many other independent cinemas across Canada and the US. We’re witnessing an arthouse theatre revival like never before during Covid-19, a very unexpected silver lining amongst many grey skies.

Our first virtual screening

The move towards online delivery was kicked off by our request to the filmmakers of ‘Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache.’ Our temporary closure forced us to cancel this documentary from showing on our big screen, however, we were able to bring this film to Nelson through a streaming model that promotes collective viewing. It’s extremely important to us that during this time of strange isolation, that The Civic can still be a place for our community to come together and share ideas, thoughts and opinions. The filmmakers of ‘Be Natural’ were not only thrilled to help make our first virtual screening a reality, but also offered a Facebook Live Q&A with the film’s director, Pamela B. Green following the premiere online screening, which has now had over 600 views.

A new normal for all the independents

During the global coronavirus lockdown, several independent/arthouse distributors have taken the lead to move their new releases to virtual screening rooms. The little guys are pulling out all the stops to survive during the international cinema closures we’re currently experiencing. It’s become a new way of life for arthouse theatres and independent cinemas during Covid-19.Thanks to the filmmakers themselves, alongside distributors such as Kino Lorber, Film Movement, Level Film and Game Theory Films, The Civic and other independent/arthouse theatres have had unique virtual screening rooms created for us. We can’t even begin to show our gratitude to the filmmakers and distributors, who could have easily moved their releases to Video on Demand, where they could collect all the fees and cut out exhibitors completely. Instead, they are working closely with us, helping us to innovate and stay afloat at a time when we’re all just trying to navigate this whole thing.

Tickets bought through these virtual screening rooms allow patrons to support their local cinema. The proceeds from the online ticket sales are split 50/50 between the theatre and the distributor. The theatrical experience is being protected here. A representative from a distribution house said, “we are all in this together.” If we do indeed value the collective cinematic experience, where viewers can enjoy unique stories and voices of film artists, we need to ensure that these independent community theatres can survive these difficult times.

Why independent cinemas, filmmakers and distributors need to work together during Covid-19

You’ve probably already noticed that this is the type of content that made up our doc Wednesday and Thursday night movie fare, but right now it has become our mainstay. This is because you won’t find the major studios sharing their content in this manner. Instead, most have opted to either release their films directly to Video On Demand, cutting out the cinemas entirely or delay their releases well into the future. All the independents are working so closely together during all of this not because we want to stick it to the big guys. It is simply necessary. In order to keep our theatres alive and our communities entertained during this time, smaller cinemas have had to let go of big, Hollywood movie titles and we’re now seeing an arthouse theatre revival. We all have the responsibility to help suppress the spread of Covid-19, and everyone has to figure out how to navigate their business and look after their bottom lines during the shutdowns, but it is the independent and arthouse industry that is creatively working with exhibitors to ensure that shared cinematic experiences can survive within our communities.  

Embrace the indie and arthouse movie titles - they’re keeping cinemas alive right now

If you are familiar with this type of cinema, you already know the quality and nuances in the stories and artistry there. Now you can enjoy seeing these titles with more frequency, and at the same time as the big city centres. If you are more of a blockbuster fan, please purchase a ticket to one of our virtual screenings, listed on our website’s homepage. Surprise yourself and support independent and international cinema. Your ticket purchase during this time helps The Civic Theatre get to the other side of this thing, where once again, Bond will kick some ass. Opening this Friday is a pair of Brazilian cinematic gems. Travel with us to South America at a time when an international holiday seems so far out of reach! ‘Bacurau’ is the contemporary, weird western winner of last year’s Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize and the restored 1976 classic, ‘Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands’ was the most successful film in Brazilian history. The week following, we virtually screen Poland’s entry to 2019’s Academy Awards, ‘Corpus Christi’. And later in April, we embrace the reality of all of us spending way too much time in our houses with a ‘Films from Home’ series. This will be a curated selection of powerful, current Canadian, BC made films, with some more special Q&A’s with the filmmakers.

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