Deb Combes from Palais ‘Team Movies’ recently submitted an article that has been published in this month’s Dress Circle Magazine. Dress Circle magazine is a small publication primarily aimed at film societies.
Deb commented that there appears to be a resurgence of theatres and cinemas in rural towns across Australia, hence the promotion of our beautiful Franklin Palais!
Franklin is a small town (population approx. 400), established in early 1800’s, located 50 kms south of Hobart and nestled in the Huon Valley, Tasmania. The Franklin Palais Theatre, formally the Franklin Town Hall, built 1911, is an imposing red brick building that for us locals, is the ‘Centre of the Universe’. Today the Franklin Palais is owned by the Huon Valley Council but managed by a dedicated band of volunteers. The hall is multipurpose, holding monthly markets, wedding, parties, and funerals, balls, meeting place, exercise classes, folk club, local collective gift shop and most importantly, monthly Classic Movies.
The Franklin Palais has had a long history of screening films since the 1920’s. In 2016 we decommissioned our 16mm & 35mm projectors (held together with tape) and raised half the money to install a large format digital projector for our 4.5 x 6 metre screen. A successful grant application to the Tasmanian Community Fund made up the balance. Today our audience lounge in comfort, the upstairs dress circle has been refurbished and the hall is heated. In the big empty hall, the sound is not perfect but we are working on it. We screen monthly classic movies and our audience numbers vary depending on the weather, sporting grand finals, what is on TV (glad when Poldark finished on the ABC). Our average audience alternates between 60 to 80. In the height of the tourist season it can swell to over 100 and in the depths of winter, snow on the mountain, lucky to get 50.
I vary movies from classic, art house, independent, documentaries and mainstream. Plus when I can, throw in my favourite genre, ‘Psycho Biddy’ or any movie where older lady goes insane and stars Bette Davis. Screening in August, is the New Zealand chick flick with a touch of fowl play, ‘Pecking Order’. If a movie is a weepy, all patrons are supplied with a complimentary tissue (‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’). For the movie ‘Blow-Up’, first British film to show naked female breast, arranged for our local vicar to censor with a big hand prop, which was held over the screen at the moment of impact. We break the movie for an intermission, bring-a plate supper, and regularly hold curried egg sandwich competitions. If it’s a French film, best French inspired supper dish.
It is not just about screening movies, but maintaining our community, welcoming new residents and visitors to the valley plus imparting local information. Each year our local volunteer fire brigade run a fire awareness session and DVD. But I have learnt you can never please everybody. When I screened the fabulous 2015 Icelandic film ‘Rams’, I fielded many emails from people upset that the dog died. My biggest critic, anonymous ‘Armchair Action Man’ requests any movies with Steven Segal & Jean Claude Van Damme….sigh.
If you ever find yourself visiting Franklin our Classic movies are held, first Sunday of every month. We would love to entertain you.
Coordinator, Team Movies,