Cinemax sets the scene for Kingscliff movie buffs
I REMEMBER as a girl going to the movies on Saturdays and my brothers rolling Jaffas down the aisle.
At the Kingscliff cinema the only sounds were the subtle tinkle of a cappuccino cup, or a good wine being uncorked.
The atmosphere still isn't typical of a parochial coastal village and, once inside, if you close your eyes you could be in America's Greenwich Village or Soho in London.
Owners Stephen and Deborah Buge of the Kingscliff cinema have a passion for the movies and the art of filmmaking.
"We wanted going to the cinema to be a really enjoyable experience," Stephen said.
"We grew up in Adelaide around an atmosphere of fine foods and theatre. My parents were both chefs and I've loved the movies since I was 17, when my first job was as projectionist at the picture theatre. I sold ice creams at half-time - that's when my passion for movies began and continues today."
He's tried many things, including working in television, but, "I had this dream of one day operating my own cinema, choosing the films that not only are enjoyable but thought-provoking and won't be seen anywhere else,"
"It's working. We are achieving this and we like to think that going to the movies here is special.
"Fortunately my experience included working as a food and beverage manager for a chain of hotels, and being able to draw on that combination of food and film has been a winner, and patrons are enjoying a total cinema experience."
Born in Adelaide, Stephen realised his dream by opening one of the first art house cinemas in Australia.
It was 1974 - and it's still going - and like the characters in the Australian film Travelling North, that's what he and his family did.
Surfers Paradise was their next move and again they opened a cinema, catering to international visitors as well as the locals, and were successful in introducing foreign films that were often controversial and thought-provoking.
Surfers Paradise was changing so much they decided it was time to change again and relocate.
I asked whether leaving an established business was a risk.
Here it's small and intimate - there are 45 seats only. We know our audiences and after a film we get feedback from our patrons. Many are regulars, they become more like friends, and we listen.
"No, we had already proved that Australian filmgoers were ready for movies of substance and controversy. The fact that many overseas films have subtitles doesn't matter to Australians, but Americans won't go if there are subtitles.
"I think that says we are a more informed and open-minded public overall."
Stephen said they did a lot of research when considering the move from Surfers to Kingscliff.
"The coastal areas south of Kingscliff were expanding rapidly, such as Salt, Casuarina, Cotton Beach.
"The area has changed from sleepy villages and holiday caravan parks to communities that are more educated and sophisticated.
"People want to go out enjoy a good wine and have a cinema experience."
Stephen said most of their films wouldn't work in a large space.
"Here it's small and intimate - there are 45 seats only. We know our audiences and after a film we get feedback from our patrons. Many are regulars, they become more like friends, and we listen."
The films are selectively chosen and there's even a local film club called Reel Talk, which has advance screenings. It's got 45 members and growing.
The popularity of the cinema continues to grow and the Buges are hoping to increase their seating capacity and still retain the intimate atmosphere that makes going to Kingscliff Cinemax Cinema a special event.
"A coup for us is that we are screening the Metropolitan Opera's Winter Encores program's last performances of Il Trovatore in July, La Traviata next month and Turandot in September.
"Then the 2013-2014 opera series commences on October 26 and continues monthly till June 14 and 15, 2014.
"These live performances are forwarded to us at Kingscliff cinema hours after being performed and apart from Brisbane, our cinema will be the only place to see The Metropolitan Opera. The response has exceeded our expectations," Stephen said.
HERE'S a list of the movies that made waves at Cinemax in Kingscliff and other facts:
- Most controversial film: Incendies
- Longest running film: The Wave
- Most popular film: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Number of screenings: 8500 in four years.
- Subtitles: Aussie audiences aren't bothered by these, but they are a turn-off for Americans.