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.
I had news in early July of the sad death of Pete Davis ('Aussie Pete'), who together with his partner Penny Golias, was the inspiration behind the Bunkhouse Theatre on Rakiura/Stewart Island. This little cinema sat idle for some years, before Pete and Penny came along to provide a much-needed venue for locals and visitors, screening a regular programme of films (with an emphasis on the local) and daily screenings of "A Local's Tail", their own amusing and informative 40 minute film about life on the island. This film 'narrated' by Lola, a local dog (assisted by Pete), is a highlight of many who take the challenging trip across the Fouveaux Strait.
Pete was a first-rate bloke and the island will miss him, rattling around Oban in his bright yellow Fiat Bambina. My hope is that the Bunkhouse will continue to play an important role on the island, as testament to Pete's contribution to this lovely part of New Zealand.
Pete with his beloved self-operated popcorn machine, at the Bunkhouse Theatre, Feb 2018.
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.