The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Cinemas, Independent

Independent cinemas have ranged from small, local film clubs to freestanding theatres. These groups generally premiere independent or foreign films, which are often not shown at commercial movie houses in Saskatchewan. Up to the late 1960s, movie buffs formed film clubs that ordered foreign movies from specialty distributors—a practice that gave way to more dedicated venues in the 1970s, particularly in Regina and Saskatoon. The University of Regina screened foreign films and Hollywood classics for students and the general public. An eighty-seat theatre opened in the basement of Regina’s downtown public library in 1975. Filmmakers such as Guy Maddin, Lynne Stopewich, and Patricia Rozema have discussed their movies there. Elsewhere in Regina, the Saskatchewan Film Pool screened Canadian movies through its “Hidden Cinema” program in the early 1980s. In 1988, the short-lived “Paradise Theatre” showed classic movies in a rented warehouse. The Royal Saskatchewan Museum held weekend screenings of cult and classic movies in 1996–97.

The Place Riel Theatre opened to students and the public at the University of Saskatchewan in 1975; it closed in 1998 because of competition from discount commercial theatres. In 1984, former Place Riel programmer, Chris Jones, became co-owner of Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre. The new owners restored the theatre’s dignity, replacing its soft-core adult fare with artier films. It closed its doors briefly in 1993, and then reopened as a community-owned and operated, heritage-designated enterprise. In 2002, the Toronto International Film Festival made independent and foreign films available to movie fans in Moose Jaw through its “Film Circuit” program. Swift Current, Yorkton and Shaunavon soon followed.

Mike O’Brien

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