Seeing the Big Picture
From the steady advance of streaming services to the ongoing pandemic that kept theatre seats empty for months on end, cinemas have certainly withstood their share of body blows over the past several years. But a knockout punch? Nah. While the exhibition industry will no doubt experience significant permutations as the economic recovery lurches along, we believe the theatre-going experience is practically sacred — and will be standing strong well into the future. We’re not the only ones: our industry’s movers and shakers share what going to the cinema means to them, from the heady whiff of popcorn to the intimate company of strangers. See you at the movies!
REYNOLDS MASTIN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CMPA
Driving back from Arizona to Canada in the winter of 2005, I got caught in a winter storm and had to stop for a couple of days in Omaha, Nebraska. Somewhere I had read that Omaha was the home of the historic and majestic Dundee repertory cinema. So I decided to spend my first night in Omaha watching a French film at the venerable Dundee. It was incredibly comforting to find myself in a place that had inspired in so many generations a love of cinema — so comforting, in fact, that I slept through most of the film after having spent an exhausting day on the road!
JOAN JENKINSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLACK SCREEN OFFICE (BSO)
Going to the cinema is a wonderful experience of being alone yet together with other people. Big picture, vibrating sound and comfy seats make it an occasion. And, if I’m lucky, joining in the applause of an appreciative audience while the credits roll at the end of a great movie.
KAWENNÁHERE DEVERY JACOBS, ACTOR / FILMMAKER
It’s from my dad that I developed my passion for film and love of going to the cinema. Some of my most treasured moments from childhood were leaving the reserve, heading into the city for ramen and catching an independent movie with my dad — there was nothing more magical.
DEEPA MEHTA, PRODUCER / WRITER / DIRECTOR, HAMILTON-MEHTA PRODUCTIONS
Hurray for cinema. A communal, totally immersive experience with no distractions. I love the focus cinema demands as an art form. It engages, energizes and demands an emotional commitment which I am so grateful for — especially during these days where everything is so fleeting.
BETH JANSON, CEO, ACADEMY OF CANADIAN CINEMA & TELEVISION
There’s a reason people still venture to the big screen when they have so many options to choose from on their couch. For me, there is something about it that allows me to experience a film more completely. It’s a completely different experience than viewing at home.
CHRISTA DICKENSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO, TELEFILM CANADA
The collective experience of enjoying a film in a theatre is something that cannot be replicated — the atmosphere, the smell of freshly popped popcorn and the shared reactions of seeing a film for the first time with other people are things I deeply miss! I look forward to watching a Canadian film on the big screen.
ALAIN RAYES, CONSERVATIVE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (RICHMOND—ARTHABASKA)
Cinema is an opportunity to get away from everyday life and get some good time with family or with my wife. It’s a great way to have fun but also to appreciate the talent of the craftsmen and to discover our country through the screen.
BARRY HERTZ, FILM EDITOR / DEPUTY ARTS EDITOR, THE GLOBE AND MAIL
I’m a slightly unusual moviegoer. I like to go by myself, I’m not a fan of sitting right in the middle of the action, and I never eat popcorn (an aftereffect of working my local multiplex’s concession stand during high school). But if I ever have a few hours to kill, my first and last destination is the cinema. This truth was hammered home again and again over the past year and a half, when there was nowhere to turn to, nowhere to lose myself, nowhere to forget my quotidian concerns for 100 minutes, give or take the duration of trailers. So when theatres finally reopened in July, I felt home again. I even bought myself some popcorn.
BRAD PEYTON, DIRECTOR / PRODUCER
I lived in Toronto when Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line opened. I lived downtown and it was playing in one theatre on Eglinton Avenue. I had broken my ankle and I was on crutches. The morning the movie opened in theaters there was a snowstorm, but I was determined to see the very first screening. Malick hadn’t made a movie in 20 years. I was (and still am) in love with movies. And the screening was at 2 pm, so I had plenty of time to make it. I had to take a streetcar, traverse the stairs in and out of two subway stops, change trains once, then “walk” half a block to the theatre. But I did it. I was five minutes late and missed half of the very first scene: the excuse I used to see it again. But I saw the very first public screening of The Thin Red Line. That’s what going to the cinema means to me.
DOMINIQUE DUSSAULT, PRODUCER, NEMESIS FILMS
Growing up eight minutes by foot from a movie theatre definitely planted the seed of my cinephilia and my career in the film industry. Being able to watch a film on the big screen and hear a crowd gasp, laugh and cry is an experience that just can’t be recreated at home.
JENNIFER HOLNESS, PRODUCER, HUNGRY EYES MEDIA
My first film in a theatre was The Outsiders. I was 14 and my sister and I went together, to Yorkdale Theatre. I wore my most perfect outfit and had a feeling of anticipation so great I still recall the feels and sounds of the theatre. I laughed and I cried and then we saw the film again. I want to see films in theatres again.
JESSE WENTE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INDIGENOUS SCREEN OFFICE (ISO)
For me, going to the cinema is about possibility. The possibility that I will see something that will change me forever. The possibility I will see something I never have before, that I will be thrilled, scared, made to laugh or made to cry. The possibility of sharing that experience with others. The possibility I’ll eat popcorn for dinner, or lunch, or both. The possibility I’ll feel again like I did the first time I sat in a theatre, in wonder, in awe, and in love.
ELLIS JACOB, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CINEPLEX
Nothing compares to that feeling you get when the lights go down in the auditorium and the film begins, and you can truly escape from the everyday. Our entire team is thrilled to welcome back our guests so that they can experience the magic of the big screen and big sound that we have all been missing for so long.