Goodbye Granville 7 Cinemas, let your pink neon shine on
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
The Vancouver International Film Festival this year had, without question, one of its best lineups of film screenings to date. While attending the Gala closing last Friday evening, I heard it stated that this year had more votes and positive reactions for the coveted Rogers People’s Choice Award than ever; I know for a fact that is because of the stunning quality of nearly all the films this year. But all this god news aside, the festival will not be the same after this year, because the Granville 7 Cinemas will be closing its curtains for the last time on November 4, not even three weeks from now.
What does the cinema have to do with the festival? While VIFF screenings are often separated between the Granville 7, the Vogue, Pacific Cinémathèque, and the Vancity Theatre, the Granville 7 is the hub that hosts about 80-85 per cent of the nearly 400 films each year. The loss of the cinema will have an effect on the festival, but as was sternly stated at the Gala, there will still be a festival next year and in the years to come—the only question now is where it will take place.
After the devastating closure of the Vancouver Playhouse back in March of this year, one would think the crowd it brought out would prove the dedication of Vancouver’s artistic patrons; I shall retaliate with a simple, ‘nope.’ That said, I’m not a theatre person; I enjoy plays and musicals, and even operas can get me to shed a tear—but they’re just not my thing. My dedication to the arts lies in film (subjectively anyways), so it wasn’t until the thought that we could lose the Rio Theatre on Commercial Drive earlier this year that I was actually able to sympathize with that crowd and the loss they went through. While I’m happy to say the Rio still stands strong, the Denman theatre is done, and—it appears I was the only one shocked by this news—Granville 7 is to be no more than a pile of wood and concrete very soon.
I’m angry; I was angry when I heard the news two weeks ago, and I’m still angry now. No, the temperature in every screening room wasn’t perfect. Yes, those cup holders were fucking awful. As of three weeks ago, the ceiling over screen three is leaking, and it couldn’t be fixed without sacrificing the entire room during the festival. So what? I don’t know what kind of theatre everybody wants. Clearly they want the shit treatment everyone and their mother complains about with the Cineplex theatres, because bravo ladies and gentlemen, in no time at all, that’s what we’re going to be stuck with. You want to know why liquor is allowed in theatres now, and therefore why the Rio Theatre still stands (something they themselves fought for, by the way)? Because chains like Cineplex knew it could be cashed in on; enjoy your $10 Smirnoff Ice, which you still can’t drink in the actual screen room FYI.
The loss of the Granville 7 was inevitable, which is what several VIFF personnel told me. I’m not going to sit here and cry in denial that the last official theatre of Granville was going to be there forever, but I’m still upset. While in line for the morning rounds of volunteer and pass holder ticket pickup, a bitter old woman ahead of me bluntly stated that nothing was safe, not even a venue like the Commodore Ballroom, and while certainly a bold claim, I’m accepting that the angry old bat was right.
As Mayor Gregor Robertson spoon-fed us at the closing Gala about our strong arts community or some other bull, I sat there wondering where Vancouver’s arts budget was going. It’s been proven the budget gets significantly less money every year. I’m not going crazy, I know that even with a strong arts budget the Granville 7 would still be doomed, but it is something we have to keep an eye on, hell, even fight if we want to keep the arts in Vancouver alive.
I’m going to miss the Granville 7 Cinemas. I’m going to miss second-guessing whether I should keep my coat on or off. I’m even going to miss those fucking awful cup holders (and their hilariously out-of-date Z95.3 stickers). Vancouver claims to be this all-powerful, ‘Hollywood North’ film city, but if theatres keep closing at the rate they are, then where does the dignity stand?