Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

There wasn’t  great deal of money for the Alice Springs Cinema in the Sydney Travelling Film Festival, but a fortune in good experiences, says owner Paul Darvodelsky.

 

“The model is to break even, bring the films here and breathe life into the Mall,” he says.

 

Through hosting the festival the cinema has become much more widely known to have fare beyond “crashes and explosions” – and he’s determined to build on that new reputation.

 

“We’ll be working on that along with our with opera ballet program,” he says.

 

Arthouse and non-mainstream films have long been the passion of this chemical engineer with a national and international clientele, and he’s shown quite a few since buying the cinema three years ago.

 

The staff, too, “had a ball,” says Mr Darvodelsky. “We definitely want to offer the venue again.”

 

About 3000 people – more than 10% of the town’s population – came to the four-day, 10-movies festival with The Railway Man having the biggest audience, followed by The Rocket, The Darkside and 20 Feet from StardomOn My Way had the smallest number of viewers.

 

“Mature professionals” made up much of the audience, Mr Darvodelsky says, and so did “50 something women.  But one of the key features of the festival was the diversity of the audience. It was exciting to see so many people enjoying films.”

 

The four cinemas and digital screening technology created flexibility. Some films were shown simultaneously in three cinemas, with the starts staggered by a few minutes, which suited latecomers.

 

There was only one major hiccup when a projection computer froze and had to be re-booted. It took about 30 minutes, but the audience seemed happy to chat for a while.

 

The public response was a great encouragement to offer the facilities again for next year’s festival, says Mr Darvodelsky.

 

There would be a few changes: Having a liquor licence for all the festival, not just the opening night; and having food stalls in the lobby, and even a marquee outside where people can sit, eat simple food and socialise.

 

Barista Cam Buckley is moving his coffee shop from opposite the council chambers to the cinema complex. Red tape had stopped it from being open for this year’s event.

 

PHOTO: A debrief in the Mall after one of the films.

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Dotson
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I like Australian movies. I don’t know why. I don’t even know why I read this paper year after year except it makes me feel like I’ve gone home.
    I loved The Earthling and many others. I guess they are kind of macho like men think they are or want to be. “All the world’s a stage.”

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  2. Hal Duell
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Good news that Cam Buckley will be offering his coffee at the cinema.
    Now for some more art-house and international movies, please. Araluen’s Sunday nights are good, but more choice would always be appreciated.
    If The Rocket came second in attendance figures, does that mean Monday nights might be a goer?

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  3. Mike Gillam
    Posted February 19, 2014 at 8:31 am

    At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.

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