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Best Seat in the House — Living in the Virtual World

Civic Drive-In, Virtual screening room — Civic Theatre goes the extra mile to continue to bring the movies to the public. — Photo courtesy Nelson Civic Theatre Society

Many of my friends consider me a cosmopolitan guy, a world traveler, a literary connoisseur.  

They’re very misguided.  

I’ll admit that during our collective self-isolation I am enjoying a few classic books but I think their perception is based on the fact that I also enjoy critically acclaimed, international, and, yes, even Canadian film. Hardly proof of sophistication. I’m just interested in good stories and good storytellers.

Back in the 70’s, when the world was young, my friends and I became aware of theatres in Vancouver that showed lesser known films, the ones whose status grew by word of mouth. ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’ from South Africa and ‘The King of Hearts’, a fabulous French production starring Canada’s Genevieve Bujold opened my eyes to how great cinematic stories leave us with new perspectives.

Fortunately, Nelson’s Civic Theatre is one of the few places in Canada with a few good stories these days.

When we first named this column ‘Best Seat in the House ‘we didn’t expect that seat to be the front seat of your truck or your basement couch but we’re versatile. While The Civic Drive-In is focusing on fun summertime movies our virtual screening room is bringing you new-release films from around the world.

In the last two months I’ve visited a bizarre backwoods town in Brazil’s ‘Bacerau’, appreciated the deep roots of the church in Poland through the academy nominated ‘Corpus Christie’, and had my eyes opened about nuances of abusive relationships in Canada’s ‘The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open’. 

One night I watched ‘Capernaum’, from Lebanon and I hope more of you took the opportunity. It was part of the Civics’ Cannes film series. It’s documentary-like realism and performances were masterful.  If not for this pandemic shutdown The Civic wouldn’t have evolved it’s business model and I probably wouldn’t have seen it.  That would have been a loss.

Since different distributors offer us their films the prices and arrangements vary. Some offer opportunities to gift the movie to someone else. Some have links that last 3 or 5 days so you can see them over a few days or someone in your house can watch after you binge late at night.

And most new releases are still available to rent today. It’s like we already expanded to three theatres, then to six, then to twelve!

A few weeks ago, The Civic brought the movie ‘Beanpole’ https://youtu.be/73_7Y95snIs to the virtual theatre. This Oscar nominated Russian film is set in 1945 Leningrad after the devastation of World War II but as with any great movie, simple descriptions won’t capture the true value.

Rolling Stone described it as “aportrait of a meticulously recreated Leningrad just starting to lick its wounds. “and the Wall Street Journal critic told us “The film is an improbably thrilling work of art by virtue of its physical beauty and its relentless intensity of feeling about people.” So this one’s next on my own list

Does that make me a sophisticate because I’ve mastered the ability to read subtitles on the bottom of a screen? Will it make you want to indulge in fine cuisine or classic literature. Perhaps. But come on in. Take a look around. Surprise yourself. This virus isn’t going anywhere soon and neither is The Civic so enjoy this pandemic while it lasts.

This week The Civic is bringing you ‘Reggae Boyz’ about a soccer team and the country that supported them, ‘Jose’ from Guatemala, and ‘Made in Bangladesh’ an award-winning drama about women in the garment trade in, well, in Bangladesh.  The Civic website has writeups on each film and all offer new horizons from the comfort of your couch.

For every ticket purchased to an online screening, patrons will also get the opportunity to donate tickets to a local front-line service group when our theatre reopens. if there is a local front-line company, organization, or service group that you would like to suggest as a recipient of Pay it Forward tickets from The Civic Theatre, the form is ready for you.

Check out the civic theatre website https://civictheatre.ca/ and get your popcorn.

It’s going to be an interesting summer. 

See you at the virtual Civic. 

Brian May, Nelson Civic Theatre Society