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Music PEI Canadian Songwriter Challenge

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Laurent Gariépy is screening the classics at City Cinema

by Dave Stewart

Laurent Gariépy (photo: Dave Stewart)Anyone checking out City Cinema’s schedule over the last few months has probably noticed the presence of more and more classic films. It’s an opportunity for all of us to expand our viewing experience and knowledge, and to see some of our favourites on a large screen with an engaged audience. And it’s all because of Laurent Gariépy and his love of cinema.

After studying film at Université de Montréal, operating a video store there, and working as a film critic at Cinémaniak, Gariépy came to PEI as a French teacher with Université Sainte-Anne. He brought his passion for movies with him, and his desire to share them with Islanders on the big screen.

When asked why, Gariépy replies, “Because I live here.” This, I think, makes a lot of sense. “I’ve lived here for the last three years, and if I don’t do it, there’s no one else doing it.”

Following up, I ask how he chooses the films he screens. “What I want to see” is his answer. This makes sense to me, too.

As a fellow movie fanatic, the chance to see favourites, or films I’ve wanted to see for years, on a big screen where they dominate you, to share them with like-minded individuals, is a gift. For anyone with an interest in films and filmmaking, it’s an education. For Gariépy, its obviously the result of doing something because of a passion for it. Since he began his screenings in May of 2018, audiences have been treated to films as diverse as Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and Hiller’s Love Story.

“I came [to PEI] and I thought it would be nice to have a blog or something to write about [films],” says Gariépy, “but I think the last entry was in June or May. I’m also on the board of the Charlottetown Film Society. For the 50th anniversary of Telefilm, Louise Lalonde ran a series of films at City Cinema, but that came to an end.”

And that’s where Gariépy came in. Hosting screenings at City Cinema as L’Ipéen (a riff on the French name for PEI), Gariépy rents the screening space, and needs an average audience of 30–35 per screening to break even. Is there a secret to achieving that magic number?

“I don’t know why a lot of people came for Rashomon, and didn’t for Fellini’s 8 1/2 or Lumet’s Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon. I think Japanese animation will bring people. We had two screenings of Princess Mononoke. One was sold out and the other had maybe ten seats left. We’ve made movies for the last 120 years, so there’s a lot to see, a lot to show too,” says Gariépy.

L’Ipéen screenings are $10. You can follow the schedule on Facebook and in The Buzz.

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