Q+A About Reopening of Excentris

The long awaited moment by the public, filmmakers and film lovers is finally here: the three rooms of the Excentris are now ready to reclaim their public! The new Excentris, whose name has been retained but under a new visual identity, continues the tradition both in terms of art direction and quality of its programming along with the experience that it offers to the public.

This happy event was highlighted by an evening of celebration with the community November 28, 2011 and a special offer for the general public of two tickets for the price of one for all three sessions on Saturday and Sunday, December 3-4, 2011.

“A big thank you to all artisans, ambassadors and accomplices of this success and especially the public and the media who have supported us tirelessly over the past two years. Welcome home!“ said Caroline Masse, CEO of Cinema Parallel.

The Excentris reinvented by the team behind Cinema Parallele is intended as a gathering place, which is friendly, innovative and offers a wide range of available films in Montreal. It will allow the film not only to be seen, but also supports an entire industry: the filmmakers, festivals, distributors, all the middlemen. Film fans and the general public will be able to gather in a great place once again to celebrate their passion for the seventh art.

The venue will also host a variety of cultural activities as well as corporate events and celebrations. All this will contribute to the vitality of St. Laurent Blvd.

“Films play a major role in developing and maintaining our cultural identity. It reflects our aspirations while nourishing our souls. The combination of the Excentris and the Cinema Parallele looks very promising for this purpose since it will offer moviegoers bold and innovative works, staying abreast of technical innovations and unpublished narrative devices,” said Minister Christine St-Pierre.

Founded in 1967, the Cinema Parallele is an independent non-profit social enterprise dedicated to art films along with encouraging the discovery of the work of great international directors. Cinema Parallele is supported by the Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, the Ministry of Culture, Communications and the Status of Women, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, the Development Corporation cultural enterprises in Quebec, the City of Montreal, Montreal Arts Council and The Daniel Langlois Foundation.

Q:  The Cinema Parallele has been around for how many years? How many people have passed through its doors?

A:  Cinema Parallele has been around 44 years. It was founded in 1967. It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the dissemination of auteur cinema. It was first known as the Center of Underground Film. Parallele Film Center (named in 1971) then set up shop in about ten different places before settling in a small room at 3682 St. Laurent Boulevard in 1978. It thus became the first projection room which screened the films and videos of Quebec directors. Cinema Parallele remained for over 20 years in this small room where it introduced moviegoers from all walks of life to the unedited works of filmmakers from Quebec, Canada and around the world. In the café, named in honour of George Melies, they offered drinks and meals. Cinema Parallele moved to the new Excentris building in 1999 through a special partnership with Daniel Langlois. Cinema Parallele acquired the three rooms of the Excentris in the summer of 2011.

Q:  What is the cultural mandate of Cinema Parallele? How many movies have been screened since 1967?

A:  The mandate is to screen auteur films, to discover new directors (Quebec and international) and to encourage the dissemination of early works and genres (experimental, documentary, short) not screened at your local multiplex movie theaters. Cinema Parallele sees itself as complementary to the business of the great movie channels. A key to the success and longevity of Cinema Parallele lies in its artistic vision. The work done by Cinema Parallele programming is characterized by a strong editorial line, in line with its mandate, which works similarly to that done by a festival or by art house theatres. Cinema Paralleel has screened more than 5,500 works since its founding in 1967. Since moving to Excentris in 1999, over 1,200 titles were screened and nearly 600,000 people came to enjoy them.

Q:  Is it still going to be always the same philosophy even with the acquisition of the three rooms? Will the programming philosophy change compared to that before the acquisition?

A:  The programming guidelines remain the same. Cinema Parallele will continue on with its original mandate, the one it pursued for more than 30 years before moving to Excentris. The quality of programming, which has always distinguished the Cinema Parallele, will continue to be the backbone of the place.

Q:  Is the name going to change?

A:  The name of the place remains the same – the Excentris, but under a new visual identity. The name Cinema Parallele is the corporation behind the Excentris and will not be visible to the public.

Q:  What was the total cost of the acquisition of the rooms?

A:  The total project cost amounts to $7.75 million. This amount includes the cost of the acquisition of the three rooms and the lobby (i.e. first and second floors of the building) and the costs of the renovation of Room 3 and upgrading it according to Regie standards. To finance this project, the Cinema Parallele obtained a loan of $ 4M from SODEC and received a contribution from the City of Montreal of $2.75 million. Cinema Parallel also received an exceptional gift from The Daniel Langlois Foundation of $1 million, the gift that has been fully allocated to the work of upgrading to Regie standards.

Q:  What kind of work/renovations/upgrades has been done?

A:  The large part of the work consisted of restoring Room 3 (Cassavettes) to its original state, or movie mode. Major changes were made to this room in 2009. The reversal of these changes took more than two months of full time work. The lobby has also been returned to its original state and we have added a new ticket counter and furniture. Otherwise, it has been maintenance (changing carpets, applying a new epoxy in two rooms, changing chairs in the Parallele, etc.) and signage in the lobby. A technology upgrade has been done, which took more than three months of work. Each theatre is now equipped with the latest digital projectors and servers (Barco – Doremi). Parallele was also equipped with an HDCAM-SR. The 35mm (all three rooms) is obviously still in use.

Q:  Why did you decide to sell popcorn and candy?

A:  With its new financial obligations, including a loan of $4 million to repay over the next 25 years, the Cinema Parallele must be viable economically. Revenue from ticket sales, like in all movie theatres, is not enough to ensure that. Cinema Parallele will therefore offer coffee, candy, popcorn, etc. and maximize the potential income of the premises by renting it for corporate events outside the hours of projections (launches, cocktail parties, conferences, etc.).

Q:  Is the proposed Phase 2 is still in the works?

A:  Absolutely. Similarly, maintaining a regular program in conjunction with the holding of events and festivals is required. The addition of two small rooms (about 70-80 seats each) with the role of holding screenings for the films that have the potential to draw additional income is anticipated for 2012-2013.

Q:  What is the greatest wish for the future for Cinema Parallele?

A:  The acquisition of the rooms of the Excentris is a big step for the team of Cinema Parallele and one that the Conseil D’Administration is very proud of. However, the real challenge begins now. The Excentris must regain its audience and attract an even larger one. We need to ensure cash flow and meet our financial obligations while fulfilling our cultural mission. We expect the public to continue to support us by regularly attending films and contributing to the fundraising campaign that will be launched soon.

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