From the beginning of cinema, best documentary films covered the screens that allowed the first cinematographic screenings in history. Recall the night of March 22, 1895, when the Lumiere brothers converted the headquarters of the Society for the Development of the National Industry of Paris in the first prototype theater for film.
That night, the screen that received the images of Workers leaving the Lumiere Factory in Lyon faced two hundred influential businessmen as the first film audience. Later, other of their documentary shorts would be projected to the public that attended the Indien Hall of the Grand Café of Paris, the 26 of December of the same year.
Documentaries today are still cinematic pieces that make reality a fascinating subject, creating around them hundreds of thousands of filmmakers and an endless number of fans who make the genre their way of life. This massive niche has new possibilities to enjoy the growing distribution of documentaries. Among them is the birth of new theaters exclusively for the projection of the genre.
Guidedoc brings you the three best cinemas only for documentaries that every fan of the genre should know.
1 — Dokukino (Zagreb, Croatia)
In the heart of a country whose imaginary has been forged thanks to its historic documentary production is the Dokukino, a small documentary-only cinema in Zagreb dedicated created by the RESTART organization, which also handles the distribution and marketing of documentaries throughout Croatia. The organization began as a society for the education and documentary production. However, the team soon detected a lack of work on the relationship between the films and the public. That´s when the idea of creating a cinema dedicated to documentary films was born. And the response has been great.
“We were not sure if it was going to work, we didn’t know whether the audience would be interested or not. But we did it and waited for a while … and it began to work step by step. Once we reached this goal, we realized that there were not distributors of documentaries in Croatia and we figured out that we should do that too! Everything was connected, when we started working in the field we found that something was missing, that no one else was working with this niche. In that way we also concluded that it was easier and cheaper for us to take care of everything, “explains Inja Kórac, one of the promoters of the project, to tourdescinemas.com.
Dokukino offers 6 new documentaries film every month. The hall has thirty comfortable puffs that cover the demand of an exclusive audience that enjoys a program that consists of only creative documentary pieces. “We choose the films by traveling to festivals, being aware of what’s new in the genre worldwide. More than anything, we pay attention to local issues, such as the refugee crisis. I think that is our duty, to promote debate, “ says Korak.
The Dokukino also organize master classes with directors, producers and technicians who come to screen their films, as it is home to various festivals such as the Human Rights Film Festival, the Subversive Festival, the Vox Feminae or the of Zagreb Film Festival. Since 2014 there is a section called “Hall of Fame”, a space for the screening of classic documentary film.
The audience attending the Dokukino is mostly composed of students between the ages of 18 and 30, and older assistants, aged 50 or over. Thanks to the success of the initiative, another projection room was inaugurated in the same building.
In the future, the team dreams of having a single place where they can perform the various activities they offer (projection, education, production, distribution). “In the Dokukino we do not only offer a film, we offer an experience, an emotion”
2 — Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (Toronto, Canada)
Reopened in March 2012 after a period of renovations, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema stands as the biggest documentary-only theater in the world. The marquee of the theater — named after the homonymous street of Toronto — included the titles of fiction films in previous years, only since 2012 was chosen as the official headquarters of the renowned Hot Docs Festival — one of the biggest documentary Film Festival in the world, which in 2015 reached a record attendance of more than 200,500 people. Since then, documentaries have taken over the theater´s big screen.
The neon sign that stands on its façade has long been an icon for cinema lovers in the city. Inside, 700 comfortable seats are waiting for them to witness a wide range of documentary pieces. The first film to be screened the night of its reopening was Big Boys Gone Bananas, by Canadian producer Bart Simpson. The film shows the public reaction to another previous documentary called “Bananas” that told the story of a group of banana workers in Nicaragua who succeeded in their lawsuit against the Dole Food Company for exposing them to the pesticides in their plantations.
The renovation process of the popular “Bloor” included the remodeling of its interior areas, including the lobby, and meant a technological upgrade of its theater. In this way, the white screen was supplanted by a new one of greater size in order to offer a better experience of expectation. A digital video projection system and Dolby Surround digital sound circuit was also installed. However, the cinema did not get rid of its faithful 35-mm film projector, which was maintained and is in operation for occasional screenings.
3 — DCTV Cinema (New York, United States) * Under Construction
Located in a landmark firehouse near Chinatown, in the heart of the famous Tribeca district — known for its international film festival — is the Downtown Community Television Center, a center dedicated to film training and production in the documentary field. After having a vast community experience of more than forty years, the non-profit institution has been building since 2012 what will be the America´s first non-fiction theater, which is scheduled to inaugurate in 2018.
The idea came from documentary filmmakers Jon Alpert and Keiko Tsuno, directors of the center, after obtaining a grant from the local development corporation in 2006 for more than $ 800,000. Since then, the project has been funded with private and public money and has attracted the attention of the film community across the country, including Oscar winner Michael Moore (“Bowling for Columbine”)
“I am very proud to be a founding member of the first documentary-only theater in the United States. This is a historic day and I hope this theater will inspire other cities across the country looking forward to build their own documentary-only cinema “was one of Moore’s phrases during a fundraising ceremony for the project.
To the group of sponsors of the initiative also joined Morgan Spurlock, star and director of famous documentary film Supersize me. “In a few years, documentary filmmakers won´t have to worry any more about competing against the” Lords of the rings “, finally there will be a place where only documentary films are shown”
The theater is in its final stage of construction where formerly stood an old barn belonging to the firehouse. Design architect Paul Alter, the construction of the building has an estimated cost of 2.5 million dollars. It will have a digital audio and video system and room for 73 spectators. It is expected to open in 2018, when will open its doors to more than 20,000 attendees and many more via Internet.