Monday, July 17, 2006

The theatre Sleeps Tonight - My final screening at the Royal Cinema

Upper Right: Before TT2, the audience grooves to new music videos from Russia (Photo Courtesy: Greg Woods)
Bottom: Lining up for TT2 (Photo Courtesy: Greg Woods)

I kind of knew awhile about the whole FESTIVAL CINEMAS thing closing and now reflecting over it in the last while, it's interesting. In the new issue of KITK (#16) I kind of reflect more on the closing of these theatres. But I guess my blog entry is to remember what happened on the last time I would ever do a screening for FESTIVAL CINEMAS.

My last CONFLICT ARCHIVE screening at the Royal, after over 5 years of subjecting Torontonians in this location my trashy tastes, was DION CONFLICT: TRAILER TRASH 2. For those who don't know, it's a collection of movie trailers for some good and not so good films. But hell, what's good anyhow? My pal Mihai helps me edit the reels upon reels of film from my collection. Sometimes, there's an order, but I also like to just throw in something random, sight unseen... Because we can! In total, there was over 40+ trailers for films with titles such as "Let me Die a Woman!" or "Trap for Seven Spies", interspliced with some local ad for shag carpeting for some long lost business in Michigan or Florida (??).

Always before a screening, we would have the same ritual. Tim (who would book my screenings for FESTIVAL) and his wife Brenda and I would do dinner at Sneeky's. We would also rope some other friends together not only for dinner, but to help fold the latest issue of KONFLIKT IN THE KINO while muching on cheese nachos. I usually bounce out early to go grab prizes, sort out music at the theatre, and talk with other cinematic partners in crime working the candy counter.

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING wraps up and we fix it that I'm able to do something that we talked about forever, but NOW got around to doing. Showing some NEW cool Russian music videos with DTS sound!

So, the box office opens and for the first time, I don't work the door giving out raffle tickets. I sneek into the theatre to watch an Irakli music video. What's particularily interesting for my last show is the constant amount of the audience taking photos or video with digital cameras, camera phones, video cameras, etc. At one point, I called over the house manager to check it out. It was a really interesting site. This was the final screening for some people for going to the Royal and I know a lot of people just wanted to grab pics from/of the theatre. That theatre gave me lots of memories and hope it was the same for others.

On with the show. I give my usual pitch and told the story about how the CONFLICT ARCHIVES came to be in this location. Blah blah blah, then on with TT2. Besides a couple wrongly placed trailers (my screenings have usually had some form of technical problem). Some of the trailers in the first half were great. I really now want to see "Carmen" and track down a copy of "Charles and Lucie"!!!

The intermission I give away prizes. Normally afterwards, I plug our next screening at the Royal but this was it. Going throught the motley bunch of films I showed, the memories flooded back regarding my time presenting films at the Royal. It was because of the CONFLICT ARCHIVES, it put me in contact with some great people. My friends Greg and Tim who I cherish both were because of these screenings. I remembered almost destroying the screen during a "pop guzzling contest" for SURF II, or the sound going TOTALLY out for the Rev Al Sharpeton 3-D feature, "Run for Cover" (which I gave the Canadian premier to). Many good memories. I got pretty choked up and told the audience, "I've enjoyed sharing this time with you" said a quick goodbye, then we did the final reel.

It's weeks later and Colin tells me yesterday about some retro 70's 16mm reels he bought. He also says "I guess I'm missing the Royal" and I am as well.

As I get ready to embark on tanking my HUNKA JUNK film fest to Finland, I still think about those great wacky screenings that we would do at the Royal. The Royal for me was kind of like a f--k friend. But eventually, one day, they get married. And then it's just you.

There were so many people to thank that night however in regards to the CONFLICT ARCHIVES at the Royal. MANY MANY PEOPLE helped out in some way of getting the word out about (what I think) was the best kept cinematic secret in Toronto.

They say the Royal will open again and there's gossip about it. I'll wait to see what it is. But in the meantime, all you people clickin and videotaping that night! I'd love to archive whatever stills or video you have from our final festival cinemas screening. You can contact me here.... and we can take it from there!


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