It was mid-March.
The ski season was pretty well over and the world was getting more nervous every day. So, before everything shut down, we decided to take a springtime jaunt to Vancouver to see family. Covid-19 news was flooding in quickly and the government decided to limit groups to 50. The Civic Board and staff immediately decided to close the doors and we decided to drive home.
Very soon after the Civic website said ‘Although we would love to keep providing Nelson locals with entertainment during a time of isolation, confusion and uncertainty, we cannot take the situation lightly. We cannot wait to have a “first confirmed case” in our town before we act.’
The message went on to tell us that ‘ We’ve been working tirelessly to be agile, innovative and adaptable and are proud to announce that we’ve launched weekly virtual screenings. Our audience’s can now watch titles on smart TVs, computers, phones and tablets from the comfort of their Kootenay homes, and beyond! ‘
The Civic has been working with independent and arthouse cinemas continent wide over the last few years and in this Age of Covid we’re witnessing an arthouse theatre revival. It’s important to us that The Civic continue to be a place to share ideas and opinions so that is an unexpected silver lining on the fringes of many grey skies.
In our first week the filmmakers of ‘Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache’ - a documentary scheduled to show on our big screen - agreed to bring it to Nelson through a collective viewing streaming model. Within a few days we had over 600 views. We’re on our way. You don’t have to finish watching Tiger King on Netflix.
As we move deeper into global lockdown major studios decided to cut out cinemas entirely by releasing films directly to Video On Demand but the little guys are pulling out all the stops to connect us. Independent distributors have taken the lead to move their releases to virtual screening rooms. We can’t even begin to show our gratitude. Tickets to these screenings allow patrons to support local cinema and proceeds are split 50/50.
So, what’s on at The Civic? This past week, when an international holiday seemed out of reach, we traveled to Brazil and brought in two gems including the Cannes Jury Prize winner ‘Bacerau’ – a weird contemporary western. This weekend we go to Poland and then to France.
From Poland we can enjoy ‘wild-eyed performances ‘ in the Acadamy Award nominated ‘Corpus Christi,’ ,the story of a 20-year-old Daniel who experiences spiritual transformation while living in a Youth Detention Center. His criminal record prevents him from becoming a priest but when he is sent to work in a small town, he dresses up as a priest and accidentally takes over the local parish.
And from Cannes we have a collection. A recent story in Variety said, “.Films that launch in Cannes are virtually assured a healthy run at smaller fests around the globe for a year or more.” so, when we learned that the preeminent festival has been postponed, we decided to give it a nod. Each screening window is good for anytime between 7PM – 1AM.
On Apr. 10 & 14 we will virtually screen CAPERNAUM – CANNES JURY PRIZE WINNER 2018. From Lebanon, ‘Capernaum’, follows a boy who runs away and winds up roaming the slums of Beirut shouldering a distressing responsibility. At its premiere the film received a 15-minute standing ovation.
On Apr. 12 & 16 you can join other viewers and see SHOPLIFTERS – CANNES PALME D’OR WINNER 2018. ‘Shoplifters’ , directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, challenges the notion that you can’t pick your family. Apparently, you can. Kore-eda’s film situates a group of poor vagabonds and criminals under the same roof and, with empathy and understanding, demonstrates that a family is how you define it.
To round out our selections PARASITE – CANNES FESTIVAL PALME D’OR WINNER 2019 will virtually screen Apr. 13 & 15. Thisfilm is no stranger to the Civics’ big screen. If you missed this cinematic gem the first time, or if your friends said ‘ You have to see it. ‘, join us. The film got its first huge accolade with its Palme d’Or win, then it went on to earn Best Director and Best Film at 2020’s Academy Awards.
Please purchase a ticket to one of our virtual screenings, listed on our website’s homepage. Surprise yourself and support independent and international cinema. Your purchase helps The Civic Theatre get to the other side of this thing, where once again, Bond will kick some ass.
Oh, and Friday night non-virtual popcorn sales can be ordered for pickup through our Facebook page.
Brian May, man-about-town and director of Nelson Civic Theatre Society and Jason Asbell, bon vivant and The Civics programming director