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Brisbane Loses Another Cinema Icon with The Schonell Ending Its Regular Film Sessions

The St Lucia site will cease its cinema operations and become a venue for hire.
By Sarah Ward
April 30, 2017
By Sarah Ward
April 30, 2017

In what has proven a particularly sad month for Brisbane cinephiles, another mainstay of the city's film scene is ending its run. Earlier in April, the Brisbane Asia Pacific Film Festival — which took over from the cancelled Brisbane International Film Festival, and staged three events between 2014 and 2016 — announced that it wouldn't be hosting any more fests. Now St Lucia's Schonell Theatre has revealed that it's ceasing its regular film sessions.

From June 5, the University of Queensland Union-operated Schonell will stop operating as a cinema, and will instead become a venue for hire. In a statement sent out via email and placed on the Schonell's website, UQ Union President Gabii Starr advised that, "whilst the weekly film sessions will cease, the cinema will be available for private hire and the Schonell Theatre will continue to operate as normal with live shows and special events running throughout the year."

That means that Brisbane loses yet another cinema, with Tribal Theatre still gathering dust and the former Regent still a hole in the ground. While the city isn't short on new venues — New Farm Cinema is going strong and will be joined by the inner-city Elizabeth Picture Theatre later this year, and Dendy is opening a new Coorparoo site — it also loses a place that genuinely shows films that wouldn't otherwise make their way to Brisbane, and gives others a longer run when they've disappeared from other cinemas. The Werner Herzog-directed, internet-focused documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World, which sees the iconic German filmmaker explore the technology we all use but he clearly isn't that impressed with, is currently gracing the Schonell's screens, for example, as is Aussie effort Jasper Jones.

Those with long memories might be aware that this isn't the first time that the venue has stopped its cinema program. Constructed in 1970, it  last shut up shop in 2006, before starting again in 2008. Whether this closure sticks is yet to be seen, of course, but here's hoping that Brisbane's bleak current spate of losing cinema icons comes to an end.

Published on April 30, 2017 by Sarah Ward
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