Nanguan Cinema Revives
For most of the 20th century, cinemas were a symbol of modern entertainment, a place for lovers to hide and families to take their children. Often merely simple halls with rudimentary film projectors and charging only a couple of yuan, they saw a regular and important flow of spectators for decades. This changed in the 1990s with western-style multiplex cinemas opening across the city. Although significantly more expensive, people were attracted by all modern forms of entertainment and deserted the old traditional movie theaters. One by one they closed down, leaving a vacuum in neighborhoods which still hasn't been filled.
Old film camera
Founded in 1908, Nanguan Cinema (南关电影院) is one of these old movie theaters. Located on Beijing Nan Road (北京南路), the cinema was an important part of local life and for Uncle Kuang it's related to so many of his personal memories. "When I was young and fell in love, I loved to go to the cinema most of all." Nanguan Cinema closed twelve years ago, but has recently reopened after undergoing a 1 million yuan renovation. The interior decoration is quite nostalgic with an early 20th century feel. In addition, the cinema stores over 300 films, mostly old movies such as "Tunnel Warfare (地道战)."
The screening room
Today, Nanguan Cinema schedules three screenings (10:00, 12:00 and 14:00) per day and charges only 3 yuan per ticket, the same price as in the 1960s. To compensate for ticket prices, the theater also runs a bar and a western restaurant. "It is hard for Nanguan Cinema, especially working in a pattern of reminiscence, to make a profit and even make a balance. Insiders think that it will take 3 to 5 years to earn the original input." For Uncle Kuang, the reopening of Nanguan Cinema is a chance for him to remember the past regardless of the film showing and for films to return to Beijing Nan Road.
(By Yang Na, David Keyton, photos by Guangzhou Daily)