Dungog cinema celebrates 100 years

0DECEMBER is the 100th anniversary of the first films being shown on the site of Dungog’s historic James Theatre.

The Dungog Electric Lighting Company set up an open-air cinema in 1912, before James Stuart built a roof over the site. The theatre’s signature Spanish-style facade was added in the 1930s.

The anniversary is passing without great fanfare because the theatre’s devoted fans are working hard just to keep it open.

The James Theatre is the oldest purpose-built cinema still operating in Australia and Friends of the James Theatre chairwoman Lisa Connors described its present and future as fragile.

Ms Connors said a small group of volunteers had done ‘‘amazing things’’ this year after welcome grants were received from the state government.

 Dungog teacher Gary Ford worked as a projectioni0st at the James from 1979, before Ken Reeve bought it.

‘‘I loved my time working in the projection box; clanging of film trunks, clatter of film through the projectors, watching for marks at the end of each spool to enable a smooth changeover from one projector to another,’’ Mr Ford said.

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