PEI

Changes afoot at Charlottetown's City Cinema

The Charlottetown Film Society, a not-for-profit organization, is hoping to take over City Cinema in the next few months.

Charlottetown Film Society hopes to take over small independent theatre in new year

The Charlottetown Film Society was formed with the intention of taking over the cinema and running it as a not-for-profit organization. (Submitted by Peter Richards)

The Charlottetown Film Society is hoping to take over City Cinema within the next few months.

The move would wrap up a process begun in 2012 by then-owner Derek Martin, who saw the industry changing  — digital projection was becoming the standard, which pushed him to look at options for the cinema.

I just hope it will live long and prosper, as they say.— Derek Martin

The Charlottetown Film Society was then formed with the intention of taking over the cinema and running it as a not-for-profit organization.

"They started this a long time ago but it was only last spring that they officially got their charitable status, which makes a big difference in many ways. That's why the push is back on again now," said Martin.

The society acquired charitable tax status in May and hopes to take over the cinema in early 2019 said its president Carol Horne.

"The general idea was it would either close, or a non-profit group would pick it up and run it from there," Horne said.  

Raising funds

Since 2013, the organization has raised about $41,000 toward acquiring the cinema since its original fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.

Laurent Garié​py has come to the Island from Montreal and joined the board of the Film Society in 2017. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

Over the last week, the society has launched an email fundraising campaign among its members and has raised about $1,000. The society has a couple of hundred members, said Horne.

The society is also in the process of getting a loan, Horne said.

We're definitely getting a sense of what the P.E.I. audiences are up for.— Carol Horne

"I just hope it will live long and prosper, as they say," said Martin.

Martin said he hopes the group will be able to screen the sort of films he hasn't been able to afford.  

"Sort of smaller niche films and documentaries that small groups of people would like to see, even if they're not something that's going to draw a big crowd," Martin said. 

Expanding offerings

And that's exactly what the society intends to do, according to Horne.

'There's a pretty burgeoning film production group happening right now on the Island,' notes Film Society president Carol Horne. (City Cinema/Indiegogo)

The group wants to diversify the films offered through programming such as its current Discovery series, which is being shown at the cinema in conjunction with Martin's own picks.

Discovery series programmer Laurent Garié​py said he has been renting out the cinema and showing films out of his own pocket to get the series going.

Garié​py moved to the Island from Montreal and joined the society's board in 2017.

"This is very helpful that he's doing this because we're definitely getting a sense of what the P.E.I. audiences are up for," Horne said.  

The series aims to give exposure to lesser known films like its recent screening of The Silence, an Iranian film that follows a blind 10-year-old boy who experiences the world through sound.

Plans for outreach 

One thing that wouldn't change under the society's new ownership would be its name, said Horne.

The group also recently submitted an application to the Rotary Club to help with the cost of an outreach initiative to transport less mobile groups like seniors to the cinema for afternoon programs, she said.

Although the cinema is already host to the Charlottetown Film Festival which showcases local filmmakers, the non-profit will aim to bring even more exposure to local film projects through increased local offerings, Horne said.

"If you've noticed, there's a pretty burgeoning film production group happening right now on the Island and we'd like to have a place to show off those films," said Horne. 

Public will have a say

The group also has hopes Martin will stay on and show them the ropes.

"For a few months for sure, because he's got lots of expertise," Horne said.  

The society plans to host a meeting in the new year to ask members and the general public to say what they would like to see in the cinema's future.

"I would just like to say I'm very, very happy that this is a great group of people that is working hard to help ensure that City Cinema will carry on for a long time," said Martin.

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About the Author

Sam Juric

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Sam Juric is a digital reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at samantha.juric@cbc.ca.

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