It's been a very long time since anything beyond a TV screen flickered in Mullumbimby on a regular basis - since the early 1970s in fact when the Empire Theatre finally had to close its doors and end the golden era of an evening at the flicks as all-town entertainment.
But now that's about to change, thanks to the vision of two locals who realised that together they had what it takes to put the sparkle back into Saturday nights in Mullumbimby, albeit initially on a monthly basis.
Projectionist Noel Jeffries of Broken Head and graphic designer Rachel Stone of Mullumbimby will launch Mullum Flicks at the Old Drill Hall this Saturday, February 21, a venture that will continue throughout the year on the third Saturday of the month (market Saturday.)
Noel is the projectionist at Federal Films who had tried to do something similar in Mullumbimby some years ago with a showing of 10 films that in true North Coast style was hit by lightning on opening night. But when he began talking to film buff Rachel at Federal, the idea of combining their separate talents to create something for the community began to seem like an exciting possibility.
“A lot of people talked about having films in Mullumbimby,” said Noel, “but Rachel is the only one who wanted to do something about it, so I said, let's make it happen.”
Noel's idea is to screen films not seen in mainstream cinemas rather than the latest blockbuster, and his choice of titles has been helped along by a mother-in-law who used to run an alternative cinema in Bendigo, and who is 'up to speed' with all the city film festivals and always has just the right advice.
Their first choice is an exciting one - the award-winning French film, I've Loved You So Long, starring Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas, a film that has received rave reviews throughout the world with accolades such as 'the must-see movie of 2008' and 'a rare masterpiece' and described as 'a thought-provoking story of familial struggles and redemption'.
“We are looking at showing films that are inspiring, uplifting,” said Rachel, “and although this one is emotional, it has an uplifting ending.”
While Rachel is passionate about good quality films, she is also inspired to be involved in Mullum Flicks by the contribution she sees cinema offering to community cohesion.
“Film gives people the opportunity to taste another world, to laugh and cry together,” she said, “and an emotional experience to discuss afterwards.”
Noel, too, is clear about the role of cinema in the life of a healthy community.
“Every thriving community has a location for cinema,” he said, “as part of the community fabric - it is a non-threatening environment that is not political or religious, one where everyone can go.”
They chose the Old Drill Hall (diagonally opposite the swimming pool) as preferred location because of its country hall atmosphere and tiered seating, but advise arriving early to be sure of a seat.
Tea and coffee, home-made cakes and savoury snacks will be available from 7pm when the doors open, and the film starts at 8pm sharp.
I've Loved You So Long is only suitable for adults, and patrons are advised to bring a cushion in a plastic chairs-only venue.
Tickets are $10, available from The Bookshop in Mullumbimby or at the door from 7pm.
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