The Rapidian

The UICA's new Movie Theater is open, here's why you should go...

...In these cinemas, it seems that silence is undertaken voluntarily, nobody tampers with their iPhone or farts or rustles, everybody is fully invested in the vision before them...
Cinema Paradiso

Cinema Paradiso

Underwriting support from:

If you go...

Admission is $4 for members, $8 for non-members. The cinema is open a magnificent 6 days a week; this makes me 20% happier to live in Grand Rapids.

The Cinema is my favorite place to spend an evening. When that cinema is an independent establishment, my happiness skyrockets, shattering my personal (glass) happiness scale. There is a rare sense of unity in these singular unique locations, a coming together of worshippers. Basking in that familiar half-light within my cluster of fellow film enthusiasts, I feel a sense of welcoming and camaraderie, of knowing and loving that doesn’t exist in the mall. There is a communal knowledge that you aren’t going to be disappointed, that your soul is going to be nourished culturally and visually, whether you liked the film or not. This is because someone deeply cared about the movie selection, the listings haven’t been based—as exasperated cinema managers often explain to me—on a purely demographic or potential profits basis.

In these cinemas, it seems that silence is undertaken voluntarily, nobody tampers with their iPhone or farts or rustles, everybody is fully invested in the vision before them. It is how movies are supposed to be seen; bundled on the sofa with Netflix on the laptop, weeping over Fried Green Tomatoes hasn’t even the tiniest slice of the grandeur or romance of those big screen showings.

As always, I tend to (inadvisably) project my own very specific values onto others. So when I heard that the new UICA was opening its cinema for the first time since its impressive overhaul, I rushed to the front desk and swiped my credit card, assuming naively that the entirety of Grand Rapids was waiting with bated breath for the movies to resume. I purchased two tickets, feverishly praying that there were seats left. I needn’t have bicycled so very hard. The 8 p.m. showing was to my amazement not even quite half full.

But as Ryan Dittmer, the film program manager of the UICA, points out, it is only the beginning of the theater’s new life here in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, probably in the most visible location it has ever been. “It’s a very different space and we’re still getting used to it. Seeing all of our regular film patrons certainly made it feel more like home.” Mr. Dittmer seems as invested as these regular patrons are in keeping the new facility relevant and exciting. He hopes to see the audience grow and diversify, he wants this tight-knit group of cinema-lovers to make this space their own.” I, for one, can’t wait to begin nesting…

I really hope these showings gain some aura of prestige because I cannot fault the UICA on anything: the cinema facilities here are absolutely superb. Everything from the price of entry to the seats, which are beautifully arranged and conceived. The opening movie was a perfect choice—Cinema Paradiso, the story of a mischievous and gregarious little boy who loves, learns and lives by the cinema—further enforced my notions that I was amidst a small but dedicated film-going army. It was the most fulfilling $4 I spent that week, perhaps this month!

Next up is The Interrupters, a moving documentary about a trio of "violence interrupters" who spend their days trying to educate and protect troubled Chicago communities by literally interrupting violence as it erupts. The trailer alone left my entire body covered in goose bumps (of the same type induced by ‘I would do anything for love’ by Meatloaf featuring Lorraine Crosby). Catch it quick and then make a weekly date in your diary.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.