Montreal: Revenge of the Small Neighborhood Cinemas

Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mainly on the run, his office in his backpack, looking for fascinating subjects and people. He talks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.

Big traditional cinema complexes are emptier than ever… but smaller neighborhood cinemas are overflowing.

“Are you crazy? Don’t talk about modern cinema in Le Journal! A friend implored me earnestly not to betray the relative secrecy of this 54-seat room on the boulevard Saint-Laurent.”

To get tickets, check the calendar and book several days in advance.

Cinema Modern organizes quiz evenings in its café-bar.

Louis-Philippe Messier

Cinema Modern organizes quiz evenings in its café-bar.

The atmosphere is friendly, the popcorn is affordable, and bring your pint of beer into the room.

“Hitchcock said that a film should not last longer than the human bladder can sustain itself”, philosopher Jared Mann, director of the place.

Oscars on the big screen

Starting Thursday, Cinema Modern is in catch-up viewing mode for Oscar-nominated films.

Jared Mann and Emmy Caron of modern cinema

Louis-Philippe Messier

Jared Mann and Emmy Caron of modern cinema

“I have selected 13 films for the Oscars to give people a chance to see them on the big screen before the results are announced…and many shows are already sold out or nearly sold out,” Mann said.

Manager Emmy Caron concocted a special Oscar cocktail featuring vodka, sparkling wine, pear syrup and golden flakes.

During our interview, representatives of the Cannes Film Festival were watching more of the Canadian films in the room to “pre-select” them.

During the day, the room is used by post-production specialists who color there.

“Directors, editors and cinematographers come to work here and present their previous films to our audience in the evening,” explains Cinema Moderne owner Alexandre Domingue.

Like being at home

Mr. Domingue founded his cinema four years ago, inspired by the “magic” of private screenings at a friend’s house in a large loft on rue Sainte-Catherine.

In Montreal’s east end, another small theater, Station Vu, also has a busy schedule.

The public cinema at Casa d’Italia on rue Jean-Dalon Est fills its room even though Casa’s sacred regulation forbids the consumption of popcorn.

“We were looking for a new address that would also be a place of social life,” says Aud Renaud-Lorraine, director.

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