Friday, March 12, 2010

On the Tuesday Night Movies at the Imperial

There is a local film club that gets together Tuesday night at 8PM at the Imperial Food & Beverage (329 Bank Street, Prior to the screening you can get food at the restaurant and the selection varies from burgers to wraps and pizzas. The beer is good and the local brews vary from Heritage Brewing, John By and Beau’s. The décor is cool and the walls are covered with cult movie posters including snob-worthy titles like Taxi Driver, The Big Bird Cage, Shaw Brother’s films etc.

The Imperial is in the Barrymore’s Music Hall which itself originated as a film theater in 1914. Alain Miguelez in his book “A Theatre Near You: 150 Years of Going to the Show in Ottawa-Gatineau” elaborates on the Imperial. Miguelez reveals interesting facts about the "Imp" including that in its hey-day the theater had a 1200 seat auditorium and its own pipe organ. It closed in 1955. Since then it has gone through several owners and now part of it is a live-music nightclub.

The Imperial Food & Bevarage reopened in November 2008. The movie night at The Imperial resumed July 2009 by Katherine Eastwood, though now it is organized by Rene Kayser. In the future Rene will be collaborating with local film-type and kitchen staff Megan. The future screenings have yet to be determined and for more information you can contact Rene ( The free film screenings are Tuesdays at 8PM once the kitchen closes.

Rene is the programmer of Tuesday Night Movies at the Imperial and a long-term Ottawa resident. When he used to live in Saint John’s, New Brunswick he started exhibiting films with Scott Preston organizing the Saint John’s Avant-Garde Film Festival, it was a success. Previously to the Imperial, Rene ran a film club from his apartment. He started it November 2008 and it ran for about eight months. Turnout varied and if too many people showed up it got cramped.

I recently sat down with Rene Kayser at the Bank and Gilmour Street Bridgehead – where he works – to talk to him about the Tuesday Night Movies at the Imperial. Before each film Rene synopsizes the movie and brings up interesting facts pertaining to the filmmaker, though before that he is very approachable and walks around the restaurant talking to friends and first-timers. Rene describes the movie nights as a way to “present some total of the cinematic experience, from the high point to the low point and everywhere in between, movies with distinctive qualities”. Invisible-Cinematically speaking, Rene’s film affinities lean more towards Nick then Wyatt.

On discussing the Ottawa film-going community, Rene thinks that “you get more enthusiasm from grass-root films, you know people like Lee Demarbre.” And I will add that people are receptive to Rene's own movie nights. When I saw Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) on March 3rd the restaurant was packed.

You can spot posters for Tuesday Night Movies at the Imperial at a few center-town establishments such as the Bridgehead at Bank & Gilmour, Turning Point (411 Cooper St) and Invincible Cinema (319 Lisgar St). Finally, Rene had to say: “I like it when people are moved by the films I show, in some way, or are really entertained. I love it when people come up to me afterwards and say things like: I have never seen anything like that before”.

On March 16th at 8PM Tuesday Night Movies at the Imperial will be playing Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).-David Davidson

1 comment:

Joel said...

Good interview, David. I'm planning on taking a look at "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter" before I leave town. It opened the week I moved up to Ottawa nine years ago and brings back some fond memories of the city.