Action, lights, camera return to Red River

  • Director of Red River Theatres Angie Lane works the front ticket counter on Friday, July 16,2021. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The Red River Theatres is open and still encouraging patrons to wear a mask.

  • Red River Theatres Executive Director Angie Lane works the front ticket counter on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Red River Theatres Executive Director Angie Lane works the front ticket counter on Friday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/20/2021 5:32:43 PM

After about 470 dark days, life came back to Red River movie theater.

Like many arts organizations, its ability to survive the pandemic was in doubt. But unlike movie giants like Cinemagic that permanently closed in February, Red River had a secret weapon – its legion of community support.

“We couldn’t have gotten through this without our supporters and our members,” said Angie Lane, Red River’s director. “We have people still donating, still renewing memberships even they knew they weren’t going to get to come to the movie and that’s really awesome. Red River is bigger than just any one person and so the idea that people understood the value of what we are, that was really awesome to feel.”

The theater recently reopened at 40% capacity with no concessions and movie-goers are encouraged to wear masks. Lane worried that people would be bothered by the precautions.

“There were so many times where I was losing sleep because I was thinking people are going to be upset or they might get confrontational, but in reality, everyone was just ridiculously positive,” Lane said.

People were just happy to see them open again, just as they supported the independent theater when it was closed.

The community has always played a critical role to the theater, Lane said.

“We are the community’s cinema. We were built by community members and now we are that space where we show first-run films but on regular days we rent the theater out and partner with non-profit organizations, that want to bring forth discussions through film,”said Lane.

These discussions sometimes open up difficult topics, said Lane.

“Talking about global warming is really kind of hard when you get up and lecture from a podium and just watch the presentations, but you watch a film or a documentary on it and then you have people watch the film, lights come up and they have this amazing panel discussion and people can share their thoughts and bring these global issues down to a community level,” said Lane.

Lane cited a survey of 1,000 attendees they did a few years back, where they learned that 20% of respondents after attending an event at Red River became more involved or interested in a cause.

Lane said cinema had an impact on her own life.

“Movies can transport you and as a kid who grew up in New Hampshire as a Korean adopted kid, movies can help you reflect what’s happening in the world, help you understand yourself and understand that the world is such a large place than just New Hampshire or the United States,” said Lane

While the theater may have been closed during the pandemic, Red River kept busy by launching a virtual cinema, but it wasn’t the same feel as going out to watch a movie.

“It was a wonderful way to engage people but it was by no means replacing any kind of revenue source for us,” said Lane. “We had to cut expenses everywhere and anywhere we could.” The theater was also aided by grants and federal funds to stay afloat.

Red River is now showing the Summer of Soul, Pig, I Carry You With Me, and Roadrunner, a documentary about Anthony Bourdain.

“It has been an incredibly difficult year and I know we are not alone in that,” Lane said. 

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