Heavy rain leads to cinema ceiling collapse in Bathurst

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Four ceilings collapsed at the Metro 5 Cinema complex in Bathurst, 300 kilometers west of Sydney, on Jan. 3. Patrons were waiting for the film Love and Other Drugs to start. Water started to come in at one corner, but nobody took too much notice, and then the false roof collapsed. Thirty-six people, some suffering minor injuries, were rescued from the cinema. There were no fatalities. The collapse occurred at around 12:50 p.m. during the early sessions and has been blamed on very heavy rain.

The Astor Theatre at St. Kilda in Melbourne recently celebrated its 75th birthday. It is a classic, single-screen, art-deco-style cinema with stalls and a dress circle. The overall seating capacity of 1,150 is reduced from the original 1,700. The cinema has a loyal following for its repertory sessions of double features every night, with occasional major re-releases such as Ben Hur and Rear Window. It is one of the few single-screen cinemas still showing film on a regular basis in Australia. I regularly visit the cinema when in Melbourne, as there is always something of interest screening.

The crime drama Animal Kingdom walked away with almost every major award at the Australian Film Institute Awards in December. It won Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Lead Actor (Ben Mendelsohn), Lead Actress (Jacki Weaver) and Supporting Actor (Joel Edgerton), plus four more awards. Weaver’s performance has also been heralded in the U.S. with a number of nominations and awards.

Meanwhile, film industry veteran Alan Finney was just appointed chairman of the Australian Film Institute.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has recognized Sydney as an international “City of Film.” Sydney becomes only the second city in the world to be awarded this title, the first being Bradford in the U.K. “This prestigious international title will build upon our reputation as a world-class center for film production, promotion and exhibition,” said NSW Minister for the Arts Virginia Judge. According to a press release from the NSW Government, the City of Film status will “encourage new creative and economic partnerships, while recognizing Sydney’s rich film history.”

The award is given to a city that has an infrastructure related to filmmaking, historic links to production and distribution of films, archives and or a film school, film festivals, notable filmmakers plus a selection of films about the city. The award did come as a surprise to some, given the empty stages at film studios in the city in recent years as the Australian dollar has jumped in value and international production here has waned.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.