Members-only theatre offers first-class film experience for a good cause

The Main and Hastings block of the Downtown Eastside may not bring to mind a swanky private film society. But the Intersections Film Club is exactly that. In fact, it brings together both worlds: proceeds from the weekly screenings go to Intersections Media, a non-profit organization for at-risk youth.

The club offers an experience that is unique to Vancouver cinema, for a few reasons. First of all, it’s held in an amazing renovated Chinese theatre, District 319, on Main Street. It’s heartening to see some of these historic theatres be put to good use – the Rickshaw comes to mind as well – despite the sad decline of the legendary Pantages.

Second of all, the 150-seat screening room is filled with cozy red leather armchairs. That’s right, you get your own chair. Not an adamantine folding chair with about two cubic inches of space and shared cup-holders on either side, but your own chair/i>. (Is it sad that we live in a society where getting your own chair is exciting? Does anyone remember what it feels like to have dignity? Anyway.)

Finally, the $10 admission includes an alcoholic beverage of your choice from their full-service bar. So sit back, sip your White Russian and enjoy.

Recent screenings have shown classic and cult films, like A Clockwork Orange and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “It does service a niche,” says Selina Crammond, one of the creators of the film club and the Youth Coordinator for Intersections Media. “It’s for people who don’t feel like seeing a Hollywood blockbuster movie, but also aren’t in the mood for anything too obscure.”

So, it’s like the Pacific Cinematheque, but you don’t have to put all that effort into pretending you’ve heard of the movies!

“Members-only” theatres are increasingly becoming the best option for Vancouver moviegoers. In a city where mainstream multiplex theatres charge you $12.50 for Resident Evil 4, it’s a kick in the neck that the seats are cramped, the popcorn costs $24 and the 15-year-old ripping your ticket is the same person operating the projector and ushering the aisles.

The space of a private theatre becomes a way for movie lovers to connect. “So far the theatre has been full of like-minded people. It’s not a room full of strangers – even if you don’t know them, by the end of the night, you’ll have gotten to know them,” Crammond says.

But the Intersections Film Club is unique in that it supports a charitable organization. Intersections Media is the brainchild of William Vince, the late Vancouver producer whose work includes Capote and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. It offers an intensive workshop program to at-risk youth aged 19 to 25 in the areas of film, audio and media production.

“William Vince was dyslexic, but managed to push through and become a successful producer,” says Crammond. “He restored this old theatre in Chinatown with the dream of having a movie night and having Intersections become a permanent school for people who have learning problems or face other barriers to employment.”

Film is a medium that has the ability to reach mass audiences, especially in the digital age. If you want to grab someone’s attention or spread a message, there is no better way to do it than shooting a digital video. Yet despite the growth of social media, entrance to the film or media industries is still defined by expensive schools and state-of-the-art equipment.
Thus, those with unique standpoints are frequently left behind. What kind of culture prioritizes the perspectives of the privileged? (The same kind that denies you your own chair, perhaps?) Intersections Media offers opportunities to youth who would otherwise be denied the tools to express themselves.

“It all comes back to giving them a voice,” Crammond said. “The program shows them that it’s okay to be a little different - it’s okay if you think visually, that’s as valuable as being able to memorize information and regurgitate it.”
The Intersections Film Club screens classic, cult and popular movies every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m at the District 319 Theatre at 319 Main Street. But you have to become a member first! Visit for details.

//Laura Kane   
Laura Kane is a grammatically reliable UBC-attending contributor to the Courier, who has been watching movies since before George Lucas was ruining them. It’s actually quite possible that she’s seen every movie ever made by a human. All of these things made her the genuinely ideal candidate for a film columnist.

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