Since mid-June, Twin Cities movie buffs have been deprived of Trylon Cinema (which has dropped the "micro" part of its name). That changes tonight, as the only nonprofit repertory movie theater in the state is reopening after three months of remodeling.
The renovation, which was designed pro bono by architecture firm MSR Design, cost nearly $180,000. The vast majority of the project was funded by years of saving money earned at the box office.
The auditorium capacity has nearly doubled, going from 50 to 91 seats. A host of other changes are meant to create a better and more comfortable viewing experience. The old auditorium featured used theater seats (reupholstered by inmates at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility before they were purchased) and a narrow hallway leading to the box office, which was do-able but inconvenient access for those with limited mobility. The expanded and remodeled auditorium features risers with brand-new seats, a significantly more spacious box office and lobby area, direct access for wheelchairs and walkers, and a courtyard outside the new main doors facing 33rd Street.
The best addition? A high-output popcorn popper for the concessions stand.
Since 2005, Trylon has provided volunteer-run film programming for the Twin Cities, first screening in alleys and parks, then later partnering with the Parkway Theater in south Minneapolis and the Heights Theatre in Columbia Heights. They settled in their current space at the corner of 33rd and Minnehaha in 2009.
Trylon's staff includes executive director Barry Kryshka, theater manager Nikki Weispfenning, and film programmer John Moret. Each series is ultimately determined by Moret, who takes ideas from patrons, volunteers, and other repertory theaters around the country. All other roles, from the projection booth to the box office, are filled by volunteers.
“Generally speaking, a volunteer works one shift every other week, so they’re working the same night and usually with the same person, and the same projectionist,” says Weispfenning, whose role includes managing all the day-to-day theater operations. “We would not be open without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers.”
Over the past eight years, the Trylon has established a reputation for distinctive programming, ranging from forgotten silent classics to foreign films to genre legends, such as the 14-hour, eight-film Friday the 13th marathon coming up in October (on, of course, Friday the 13th).
Tonight’s sold-out grand reopening features a showing of Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 anti-Nazi classic The Great Dictator, described in the program notes to be “as biting a satire now as when it was originally released.”
Chaplin’s 25-minute silent 1917 short The Immigrant will also screen; the Poor Nobodys, a seven-piece folk band from Minneapolis, are providing accompaniment.
The Great Dictator will also be this weekend’s regular Trylon programming. There's a 7 p.m. show Saturday and two shows, at 5 and 8 p.m., on Sunday.
Tickets, typically $8 each, can be purchased on the Trylon website or at the box office; patrons can also purchase five movie passes for $25. Films are shown all days of the week except for Thursday, with separate film series running Monday through Wednesday and on the weekend.