A year ago this week, the Hollywood Theatre in Vancouver had its last screening. Since then, many petitions have been signed in an effort to save it; however, the era of 35mm film seems to be coming to an end.
This is what captivated English teacher Curtis Emde, and his wife, professional photographer Silmara Albi, to create their documentary The Hollywood: Till We Meet Again.
The documentary premiered on Nov. 1st, at The Cinematheque, where many gathered to re-live some of the theatre’s best and most difficult moments.
In their documentary they take a look at the theatre’s past to showcase the struggles the cinema and the industry have gone through in recent years.
“It’s the end of 35mm as the primary delivery medium for movies in theatres, it lasted over 100 years. It was durable and dependable, it was very old technology but it survived, but now it’s going,” said Emde.
Even though Emde is a full-time English teacher in VGC Language School, he has always had an interest in film; but this time he and his wife wanted to take it one step further, “I realized we could make something that’s decent and not just for our friends to watch, but something we could show and maybe connect with the community, a real story.”
Most of the funding for the documentary came from Emde and Albi’s own pocket, but they received some donations to help complete the project.
As a professional photographer, Albi explains it was her curiosity that really brought her to the Hollywood, “Not only was my own curiosity about the normally out-of-bounds parts of cinemas satisfied (we don’t often get to go behind the screen or into the projection rooms in most theatres, never mind the secret corners), but I also knew that I was participating, in my own small way, in the Hollywood’s story.”
When asked what they had hoped to accomplish with this documentary, both explained they simply wanted to tell the story of the theatre without getting involved in the political turmoil usually associated with heritage buildings, “We made a decision to make it a more general document of the [theatre] because the politics involved were complicated, it involved the city, council, and the owner… we decided to stay out of that because we didn’t have all of the answers,” said Emde.
The future of the Hollywood Theatre remains a mystery, but for now, Emde and Albi have embarked on their next project, a documentary that will continue to shed light to issues older theatres face around the province.
For more on the story of the Hollywood Theatre, check out our coverage from last year.