Lumiere: Arts Centre Cinemas, Christchurch
The Lumiere Cinema in Christchurch Arts Centre
To start this new feature on this site, it seems appropriate to begin with the newest art house venue in New Zealand. I journeyed down to Christchurch on June 27, 2019 for the grand opening in the Grand Hall of the old Arts Centre in the centre of the city. It was a sumptuous occasion, fitting of a remarkable new cinema, with MC for the evening Jason Gunn declaring "it is a dream which has come to life ... it's all class...the design ... the carpets ... the toilets".
The Lumiere is the creation of Nick Paris and Max Hoffman; two men who have a long career in the film exhibition, with a particular attachment to Christchurch. In Nick's words, "I want to hang on to the tangible nature of film and film-going".
Cinema has been absent from the Arts Centre since the February 2011 earthquake and the Lumiere brings it back with a tremendous flourish, in the former West Lecture Building on Rolleston Avenue. It feature two screens : The Bernhardt (67 seats) and The Bardot (42 seats). Naming screens after these two famous women signals the intent of the owners; to screen films, both old and new, which draw on film as both an intellectual and entertainment medium, in an atmosphere which is so different from the glare and aromas of the multiplex.
Do visit when you are next in Christchurch. I just wish it were closer to where I live.
Geoff Lealand was an Assoc Prof in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato from 1992 to 2017. Now retired (not a word he favours), he writes social history, maintains this site, its Facebook and Instagram pages, as well as going to the cinema at least twice weekly.