Three new halls coming up at film chamber

Film buffs who frequent the South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce theatre on Anna Salai have reason to cheer. The decades-old preview theatre is getting renovated to sport a new look and will house three new theatres with state-of-the-art projection system and a basement car parking facility among others. But, cinema enthusiasts will have to wait as no festivals are being held till the work is complete.

According to members of the Film Chamber, the plan is to demolish the building to build three preview theatres.

They would have a capacity of approximately 275, 40 and 20 seats respectively with the smallest to be reserved for the Censor Board.

“The slots for the car park will be almost tripled by introducing basement car parking. Besides, the premises will be disabled-friendly and have lobby space for visitors,” said Ravi Kottarakara, honorary secretary of The South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce. Phase 1 of the construction is almost complete, while Phase II would begin once the members get approval from the CMDA. “By next April-May, we hope to open the theatres. As we would be shifting to another building and there is lot of debris, we are not keen on renting out the place for festivals,” said Mr. Ravi.

Old world charm

The Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation (ICAF) has been organising film festivals at the venue for nearly 30 years and has 500 members. In March, the ICAF held its last film festival after which the film society was asked to scout for a theatre elsewhere.

Senior citizens M.S. Dhanasekharan and wife C.N. Shanthi are film lovers regular to almost every festival the ICAF organises. But, the absence of any film festival at the venue for a while has disappointed this couple residing in Thiruvanmiyur. “I have stopped going for movies for the last six months as I don't find the other preview theatres convenient,” said Ms. Shanthi. Mr. Dhanasekharan added that they prefer the theatre to other halls for its seating arrangement, acoustics, parking space and central location.

With high rentals and other conditions to be fulfilled to screen films at private preview theatres and cultural centres, the ICAF is having a difficult time organising two festivals every month as it has been doing so. “The government should help us identify theatres where we can hold our festivals,” said E. Thangaraj, secretary of ICAF. “We were screening films at Kalaivanar Arangam for sometime, but now that it is demolished, there are hardly places that offer all facilities for the price.”

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