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by Derek Martin

City Cinema

Congratulations to The Buzz on 20 years of terrific coverage of Arts & Culture on P.E.I.! I’m usually too busy planning future programmes to spend much time looking back, but anniversaries inevitably inspire a trip to the memory bank.

I’ve written here before about being a fan of Peter’s Sunday Cinema, volunteering at his offshoot Off The Wall Video, and our startup of The Buzz and City Cinema. We began downstairs at 146 Richmond, just a couple of doors over from the Buzz’s present, sunnier, spot. As it is doing now for cinema, the digital revolution was remaking publishing. Peter was the right person at the right time to bring us up to speed with this enduring, inclusive, credible, locally focused monthly. Inspired by similar magazines nationally, but making it his own, Peter’s Buzz has combined articles and listings with a positive attitude to nourish our cultural lives, as artists and as audiences. I would not want to imagine City Cinema or PEI without The Buzz.

Desktop publishing was well underway when we started, but the internet was just learning to walk. Peter Rukavina first showed us the nascent World Wide Web through Mosaic, the browser that helped create it, but there wasn’t much content online, and access was through dialup to UPEI. My movie research involved haunting Tweel’s gift shop for the latest newspapers and magazines. Rather than the thumb drive I use now, Peter would get a stack of photos every month for the Cinema page—eight-by-tens from a proper press kit if we were lucky, maybe something clipped from a Premiere magazine if we weren’t. The review quotes were hand-typed rather than cut and pasted—not quite moveable type days, but a lot has changed in what feels like a short time. Now I’m booking some titles even before their release dates, using early reviews from film festivals and foreign releases to assess and publicize, something that wasn’t possible before the net—at least not on my budget!

The technological changes come to mind because they have had such a big impact for a programmer like me whose work involves gathering so much information. And because not much else has changed. Peter’s wife Nancy and son Yanik coming on board at The Buzz has been wonderful. The addition of colour gave our listings a fresh feel and helps better convey the look of a film. But our visions remain the same, even if time and tech have given us some shortcuts to achieving them.

Rewind to 1993

The first City Cinema schedule appeared in the October 1993 Buzz. Here’s what screened during the cinema’s first month.

Strictly Ballroom

Dir. Buz Luhrmann, Australia.
Johnny Stecchino
Dir. Roberto Benigni, Italy.


Director George Sluizer, UK/Italy/Germany.
Tous les matins du monde
Dir. Alain Corneau, France

Peter’s Friends

Dir. Kenneth Branagh, UK/US
El Mariachi
Dir. Robert Rodriguez

Map of the Human Heart

Dir. Vincent Ward, Australia/France/ Canada
The Long Day Closes
Dir. Terence Davies, UK


Dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix, France
Talk about gettin off to a good start!

(I wonder what Buz Luhrmann has been up to lately?)

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