PASSIONATE Newcastle cinema identities Theo and Margaret Goumas will receive a national honour next month for their contribution to the industry.
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The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers has named the husband and wife team joint cinema pioneers of the year.
They will be presented with the award at the organisation's 78th anniversary dinner on Friday, November 18, at the Swissotel Sydney.
"Theatre meant a lot in our lives. We were gratefully adopted by the local Newcastle community and they expressed their appreciation by supporting all our cinemas," Mr Goumas said.
Originally from Sydney, the Goumases began in the industry more than 45 years ago when they opened the Newcastle Roma in April, 1966.
They were responsible for a number of cinema "firsts" in Newcastle, including the first airconditioned theatre, introducing subtitled films to a Hunter audience and bringing the first R-rated film Bedroom Mazurka to the region in 1972.
During the 1970s, they operated three successful cinemas in Newcastle - the Roma, Kensington cinema and The Lyric.
They then spent 11 years operating the Showcase City Cinemas in Newcastle before GPT, which owned the premises, suddenly asked them to cease trading in May 2008.
"They said a dividing wall between us and next door was not fire-compliant and we were told to shut the doors immediately," Mrs Goumas said.
During the past three years, Mrs Goumas has become an Australian Red Cross volunteer and the couple have retired.
However they still maintain contact with film distributors, American studio bosses and friends they made during their time in the cinema industry.
"We are movie people," Mrs Goumas said yesterday.