In the midst of the epidemic of the coronavirus, the general director of the cinema Beaubien, the Park and the Museum, Mario Fortin, delves into his memories of the big screen…
First of all, how do you live the epidemic of COVID-19 ?
The first thing we think of is not money. It is to secure our customers and our employees. At the time, when we have taken the decision to close, we had no idea of the duration. It is necessary also to secure the mechanical, food, perishable… All of this mechanical occupies us a lot and we don’t have the time to think about anything else. After the second step, extremely hard, this is the hardest time of my career, was to make the unemployment temporarily the 39 employees. Take the decision and check with everyone that they are going to get out of it, explain the ways of doing things, because for many it was their first experience of application of the employment insurance. And 90 % of our employees are young students without a lot of hours… there are also students who come from outside of Montreal who are in a shared flat. Are they going to go home, to their family ? What will they do to pay their rent ?… This piece has been extremely difficult to pass. Next, we look at the situation to keep the theatres alive. In all cases, our cash flow allows us to pay Hydro, last a few months. At the same time we did all this, it is necessary to think of the post and all of the impacts. That will make all the distributors ? How will happen the recovery ? This will not be the normal we had before. It poses a flurry of questions to which we don’t have the answers.
What can the public do in support of the cinemas ?
For the moment, there is not much else to do. It is sure that people can go on our site and buy gift certificates to tell us that they trust us now, and they will be there when we come back.
What is your first memory of a movie theater ?
It was at the cinema Montcalm on Masson street, near Saint-Michel. It was probably a mexican film… the story of a lion ! No, I’m older than that. I was seven or eight years, it was in a church basement. But I have not watched the movie, I looked at the projector.
The sacred mountain
What was your first film scoring ?
There are several, but the one which is associated with a particular memory is The sacred mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. This is the first movie I went to see with the one that became my wife. We are still together 47 years later. It was special as the first release !
The melody of happiness
The soundtrack that has rocked your teenage years ?
I was a bit older, and it was during my first job in a cinema, at the cinema Seville, in 1973. Listen to The sound of music three times per day for 13 weeks… it’s mark !
If you could give a movie to all the world, which one would you choose ?
I would say Cinema Paradiso to keep the magic of the cinema… a year ago, what I did with my grand-son has been going to see clips of the classics of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. It always works. It allows you to hang a smile on the face. It’s good to think about nothing, forget everything that is happening around them. And to see that the magic of cinema started there and that it is yet it works.