Speakeasy Cinema founder, Ghita Loebenstein has found a permanent home in Grey Gardens, the new cinema, cafe and gallery space in Fitzroy. Having just opened on July 3 Ghita answered a few questions about the wonderful new hybrid, combining all that is good in film, food and art.
1. Tell us about Grey Gardens, what can audience goers expect to find?
I like to say it’s the space between a white cube and a black box, as it’s a gallery, event space, cinema and cafe all in one. It shape-shifts between those functions as the say or week progresses.
As far as what you’ll see when you walk in… gold, so much light, shots of coloured fluro…and we’re waiting for the foliage to come in, so by Summer it will be green, too.
2. Speakeasy has been prized for being nomadic, do you think it will be the same with a set venue?
I hope not! It’ll be better! I’ve been trying to plant Speakeasy Cinema in a more permanent home since it began, so while the spirit will be the same, it’s hopefully more grounded, and more itself, in its own home. We can start doing more of the things we really want to do – such as serve really good food and drink at screenings!
3. You’ve had a diverse career in the film industry, what have you most enjoyed about growing Speakeasy?
It allows me to engage with film and audiences in a totally integrated way. It pushes me to explore new ground and allows me access to wonderful little gems that I also might not otherwise see. It makes me really think about what I love about film, and a particular film, and understand why other people might connect to it too.
4. How would you describe the audience of Speakeasy? Do you think it will change with the Grey Gardens space?
It’s always been diverse and electric – and film-dependent. Melbourne has many film enthusiasts, and the people Speakeasy Cinema attracts are from all ends of that spectrum. Those who love film, or those who are a little bit curious about what we do. I like that, and I hope it stays the same, while expanding in those directions. I don’t try and make it all things to everyone, but for those looking for something a little bit different, a different kind of experience, I’m hoping that despite the name ‘Speakeasy Cinema’, we’ll now be easier to find.
5. Melbourne has a keen film culture with a great number of festivals, how does speakeasy appeal to the Melbourne film goer?
I like to think we all fit together and plug into similar, but slightly different audiences, like a venn diagram across the city! I think the more that’s going on in film culture in general. the more that feeds our city’s film culture. I aim to offer films that might have been overlooked, or underseen, or recontextualise films that have already played. I try and make it a personal experience, so I’d say people are responding to that offer.
6. How do you continue to bring new life to the program every year? What have you got planned for this year?
Keep falling in love with films, which isn’t hard. There are always new and old things to see! Best to check the website for our September program (which will be up in a few weeks).
7. What do you think film brings to an audience? How do you think a diverse film culture enhances a city?
I don’t think I can do justice to this question in less than 10,000 words…but, like any art form (and I consider what I show to be part of the art-form, rather than a business product), it holds a reflection up to us. It provokes us to think, feel, question, delight and desire in ourselves and the world around us.
8. What is your favourite place to watch a film in Melbourne?
The Capitol Theatre is up there on my list as an oldie but a goodie. That ceiling!
Grey Gardens is found at 51 Victoria Street Fitzroy.