Efforts underway to save Cinema Parallèle

Macerola holding series of meetings to find a new home for Montreal's much revered rep theatre

MONTREAL — SODEC topper François Macerola is holding a series of pow-wows to figure out how to save the venerated Cinéma Parallèle, whose precarious future has sparked a heated debate about la belle province’s capacity to support auteur cinema.

‘We are trying to come up with a solution. We have to work together,’ SODEC spokeswoman Marie-Hélène Paradis, told Playback Daily. Macerola was asked by the provincial government to sit down with key industry players and hatch a plan for a new complex which could potentially house Cinéma Parallèle and additional theaters.

Last January, fans and distributors of independent film panicked when Softimage founder Daniel Langlois announced that he would stop showing films at his three-theater Ex-Centris complex on St. Laurent, which housed Cinéma Parallèle and two other screens that showed predominantly rep-house films. Distributors of Quebec independent film said they obtain between 30% and 50% of their box office from Ex-Centris. Parallèle still temporarily remains at Ex-Centris.

Since Ex-Centris changed its mandate, a number of high-profile players, including the Festival du nouveau cinema’s Claude Chamberlan, director Charles Binamé and most recently Cinema du Parc rep house owner Roland Smith have put forward their ideas to save the Parallèle and boost auteur cinema in Montreal.

The most popular idea is for the Parallèle to buy the Ex-Centris complex at a below market price and renovate it to create a state-of-the-art auteur cinema venue. (Langlois is reportedly ready to sell Ex-Centris for $6 million because he believes in the project). But in order for this to happen the Quebec government would have to kick in $12.6 million, which it has refused to do.

Chamberlan’s idea was to erect a new building at the heart of what will be Montreal’s new Quartier des Spectacles neighborhood further north on St. Laurent boulevard near St. Catherine Street.

In April, Quebec’s culture minister kicked in $175,000 to help the Parallèle settle into the new complex, which is to be built by Angus Development over the next two years.

Macerola has plans to meet representatives from Parallèle and Angus Development as well as other concerned parties to debate the various scenarios, says Paradis.