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Secret Cinema puts the mystery back in movies

Conner Sadler

Entertainment Assistant

With patio season in full swing, sitting in a dark, crowded movie theatre can’t compete with sitting outside and drinking beer with friends. But the Calgary Society of Independent Film (CSIF) aims to bring those events together.

Starting May 20, the CSIF will host Secret Cinema, a monthly film-screening where the community can watch movies on a small rooftop courtyard.

“The courtyard where we show the films is small and hidden away. You have to go through the whole building just to find it,” says CSIF communications director Nicola Waugh. “I think it adds to the novelty ‘secret’ feeling of the night.”

Patrons start the night with some popcorn and beer as local bands set the mood before the film. The title of the movie is kept secret until the audience arrives.

“Because any of the films in our library could be shown, you never know what the curator will pick,” says Waugh.

CSIF gives some obvious hints as to what the movie will be in advance, so that people can decide if it’s a movie they want to see or not.

The films have all been donated to CSIF by the Calgary Public Library, and cover almost every film genre.

“The collection of 16mm tapes we have range from Hitchcock films, to Westerns, to National Film Board Animations as well as vintage horror and classic films,” says Waugh. “We try to show Canadian movies — those that are weird and under the radar.”

Waugh says that through Secret Cinema CSIF hopes to expose people to the experience of watching 16mm films.

“Hearing the film reels roll and seeing the projector flash its grainy images on the screen, it can inspire people to make their own movies,” says Waugh.

Secret Cinema has grown tremendously in recent years. With 60–70 people showing up for screenings last summer, the event has outgrown CSIF’s small courtyard.

Waugh says CSIF is holding Secret Cinema as part of their efforts to help grow the film culture in Calgary.

“It’s so easy to stream or download whatever film you’d like whenever you want, but with this, you’re relying on our curators to bring you something different that you’ve probably never heard of before.”

In addition to showing films, CSIF also holds workshops and rents equipment to aspiring Calgarian filmmakers.

Secret Cinema is held once a month during the summer at CSIF’s head office in the Community Wise Resource Centre on 12 Ave. S.W. Admission is free, but show up early as seating fills up fast.


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