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  • Mitchell Horwood

Catching Up With Cinema du Parc

Among some of the best parts of living in Montreal is its many kinds of "hidden gems" that you need to look a little harder at finding. Its collection of independent movie theatres is something I emphasize as being one of them.

There is a theatre tucked away in the basement of the Galeries du Parc mall, which is only a few minutes away from the McGill campus. Even though it is located in the lower level of the shopping complex, a level even lower than the Metro and the SAQ, it is still hard to miss the aroma of buttery popcorn that leads towards the hidden gem of an indie multiplex known as Cinema du Parc.

While you may be more accustomed to the larger scale, big-name theatres around town, such as Cineplex, there is something that feels rewarding about supporting a local theatre. After being built in 1976, Cinema du Parc was taken over in 2006 by Roland Smith, programmer and former general manager of Cinéma Outremont, another smaller scale Montreal-based theatre. Since March 2013, the general management of Cinéma du Parc has been entrusted to Mario Fortin, also general manager of Cinéma Beaubien and Cinéma du Musée.

This local theatre in the Milton-Parc district has become a go-to for any film fan by organizing retrospectives, thematic cycles, festivals, national weeks and premieres. They show films, new and old, in both French and English, which is a big-time asset to appealing to several cultural communities in the greater Montreal area.

The theatre is open 7 days a week and has screenings starting from 11 in the morning to all the way to 10 at night, with two newly renovated intimate screening rooms that are ready for people to come on down and enjoy a movie. They will have 5 different films shown on any given day, ranging from the American indie delights to foreign language features to even the current-events-based documentary that everyone is talking about.

The non-profit multiplex showcases films from various genres and countries, making it completely different from the big-budget blockbusters that are plastered over typical theatres. Besides regular showtimes, Cinema du Parc also holds special events and film festivals—such as the International Children's Film Festival, which aims to get future filmmakers interested in the industry. It also hosts Parc at Midnight, an outrageously enjoyable programme series of late-night screenings in the grand tradition of the famous rep-house "midnight movies" of the '70s, such as The Shining, The Room, and Blue Velvet, among other gems. The theatre mostly shows independent films—films that are produced outside of the major film studio system and produced and distributed by independent production houses like Janus Films, A24 or NEON.

It is a place where moviegoers can come together to enjoy and discuss films with other similarly minded cinephiles. A little concourse in the theatre's lobby allows for seating areas with a backdrop of the movie posters of the flicks currently being shown and the ones that are coming soon to screen down the line. Located outside of the actual screening rooms, in this social area, you can grab your classic movie theatre popcorn and soda, but also a collection of other snacks at their counter. Their candy bar is a selective offer of things to grab before the flick, with a notable emphasis on local products alongside the typical name-brand offerings. There is a much more extensive selection of food and drinks offered for the moviegoer, from candy to snacks, cookies and muffins, or even a warm coffee or tea to grab and go before your theatre experience kicks off.

Also, because of its location in the Parc galleries, the food options nearby are great ways to turn a simple film showing into dinner and a movie, including Subway, Pita Pit, Tipsy Cow, St. Hubert, just steps away from the local cinema. It is only a minute from New Rez and basically just as close to the McGill Ghetto area, and there is a reduced 25% off rate if you show your student ID at the ticket counter. If you want to plan in advance, Cinema du Parc offers online tickets.

Overall, if you are in the market to catch a movie that is sure to be worthwhile, look no further than Cinema du Parc.

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