Federico Fellini, Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray, François Truffaut, Charlie Chaplin, Bernardo Bertolucci, Orson Welles—the works of all the cinematic greats graced the screen of the Ridge Theatre.
But just shy of its 63rd anniversary, the screen of that venerable theatre will permanently fade to black on February 3.
Alas, the cinema, located at a strip mall on Arbutus Street and 16th Avenue, will sadly be demolished (along with the Varsity Ridge Bowling lanes) to make way for—what else—a condo development.
Festival Cinemas president Leonard Schein took over the Kitsilano theatre in March 1978. It became the home to the Vancouver International Film Festival, which Schein founded in 1982. Although Schein left the West Coast to head the Toronto International Film Festival in 1986, he later returned to Vancouver and eventually took over the Ridge once again.
“It was mostly out of a sense of nostalgia and history that we went back to operating the Ridge in 2005 knowing that it would be losing money,” Schein stated in a news release. “We hoped that operating it in conjunction with the Fifth Avenue Cinemas and Park Theatre would help preserve its operation, but we were wrong, and now with the impending demolition of the site by the property owner, many people think it has already closed. This announcement is personally very bittersweet for me to make. I am sad that the Ridge is going, but happy for the many great memories it has brought to me and our fantastic and loyal audiences throughout the years."
But in its final ten days of operations, moviegoers will have their last opportunities to watch films at the Ridge, bid their adieus, and shed a tear when it presents a special selection of film screenings for a mere $5, starting on Friday (January 25). Among them will be:
- the Oscar-nominated music documentary Searching for Sugar Man;
- Pina, the dance tribute to choreographer Pina Bausch;
- the Oscar-winning Argentine crime thriller The Secret in Their Eyes;
- the French comedy-drama The Intouchables;
- the Oscar-winning Iranian drama A Separation;
- current releases such as Argo and Skyfall, and many other selections.
There'll also be a special benefit screening on January 31 of My American Cousin, featuring director Sandy Wilson and star Margaret Langrick participating in a Q&A session. Proceeds from the event will go to the educational trust fund for the children of Georgia Straight film journalist and Reel West editor, the late, great Ian Caddell.
And for those who crave the mass-karaoke, participatory movie experience, there'll also be screenings of Sing-a-Long Sound of Music (January 27) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (January 26).
For full details, visit the Festival Cinemas website.
Once the Ridge is gone, it won't be forgotten—Schein noted that the Ridge's landmark signage will be preserved in the new structure to be built by the Cressey Development Group.
The Ridge was one of the few remaining single-screen theatres in the city, and will join a list of several Metro Vancouver movie theatres that have closed over the past year, including Denman Cinemas, Station Square Cinemas, and Empire Granville 7.