Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/3/2008 (4934 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They are all provocative, glamourous and/or just plain sexy entities that began life in 1983.
The cosy 120-seat theatre on the main floor of Artspace (at the corner of Arthur and Bannatyne) started life in 1983 as Cinema Main, on Main Street south of Portage Avenue, when it was assigned the role of official cinema to the then-fledgling Winnipeg Film Group.
In 1986, the venue nestled itself in its current location in the Exchange District. And while it seats fewer people than the smallest Cineplex auditorium, it is certainly the most important cinema in town. In its capacity as an artist-run program of the Winnipeg Film Group, it is not just the venue for cinema outside the mainstream, it provides a window in which Winnipeg may see itself.
In the past quarter century, it has been the mecca of the city's burgeoning film community -- the creative outlet that first exposed the creative output of filmmakers such as Guy Maddin, John Paisz, Sean Garrity, Deco Dawson, Noam Gonick, Jeff Erbach, and comparatively fresh-faced new upstarts such as Matthew Rankin, Mike Maryniuk and Darryl Nepinak.
In observance of its 25 years, many of those filmmakers contributed to Silverscope, a program of 25 short films commissioned by the WFG.
It is not coincidental that a few of those films single out Dave Barber, Cinematheque's programmer for the past 25 years, as subject or star.
The modest Barber strives to deflect attention from himself, giving kudos to WFG executive director Cecelia Araneda for updating the theatre with a new box office kiosk, and trumpeting new assistant programmer Kier-La Janisse ("one of the sharpest people I've worked with in a long time") for injecting fresh creative blood into the cinema, now that it's attained the status of a cultural institution
But in truth, Barber can't help but be lumped into the venue in a symbiotic way. Of the 25 shorts, three feature Barber in some capacity:
"öBarbear: Dan Walechuk's animated short re-imagine Barber as a bear who cares about Cinematheque's patrons... to the extent that he will offer to help deliver your baby, while offering helpful advice about how to enjoy your Cinematheque experience.
"öPhantom of the Cinematheque. Jaimz Asmundsen's comic burlesque posits a Dave Barber that returns from the dead (after a tragic videotape avalanche) to run the cinema from beyond the grave.
"ö Best of all is Barber Gull Rub, an expert Guy Maddin parody by Matthew Rankin recounting the true circumstances of Barber's cameo appearance in Maddin's breakthrough feature Tales from the Gimli Hospital, complete with ejaculatory intertitles and disturbing homoerotic context.
In particular, the latter film is an acknowledgement that Barber has been more than a passive observer of the advances in Winnipeg and indeed in Canadian film over the past two-and-a-half decades.
Asked to recall some old stories, Barber remembers the Cinematheque being among the first Canadian venues of Atom Egoyan's second feature Family Viewing -- a few years before Egoyan would get two Oscar nominations for his 1997 feature The Sweet Hereafter.
"He wanted to hear the review (in the Winnipeg Free Press), so he phoned me at home and I read the review to him from my kitchen," Barber recalls. "Look at how far he's come in his career, and yet there was a time when he had not many reviews and he would phone me up and want to know what the reviews were like?
Little things like are significant.
Barber has other stories, including the time Cinematheque offered its Films for Fish promotion -- bring a fish and get in free -- the time special effects artist Steve Hegyi constructed a skeleton that would fly on a wire over the heads of Cinematheque patrons during a midnight screening of the old William Castle horror movie The House on Haunted Hill in a tribute to Castle's patented gimmick "Emergo."
Barber says Cinematheque is reviving those oddball events, thanks largely to people like Janisse, who has been instrumental in coming up with programmed music-themed events such as the David Bowie Singalong (on Friday, April 11) or Wayne Newton's Vegas Birthday Party (Thursday, April 3).
"We also never could have accomplished anything that we did without the help of all the government arts councils, the present and past Winnipeg Film Group staff and board, all of the tireless box office and projection staff, our membership... a cast of thousands each as important as the other," Barber says.
Cinematheque will screen Silverscope Saturday night at an invitation-only event, followed by nightly screenings from Sunday to Thursday at 7 p.m.