Goodbye, Oak Street Cinema

It seems that the independents are gone or will soon be bought up.

The Oak Street Cinema – a single screen movie theater – is expected to play its last show after the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival this May.

The movie theater is to be sold to a group of developers and investors who own property around the theater near the corner of Oak Street and Washington Avenue in Stadium Village. Student housing and retail space will most likely take the Oak Street Cinema’s place – the 92-year-old building, which originally housed the Campus Theater, will be demolished.

Opened in 1995, the theater has played local, independent, international and classic films. At the Oak Street Cinema, unseen films have been seen. It has been a meeting house in the Minneapolis-St. Paul community for both filmmakers and movie-goers – Terry Gilliam, Michael Moore, Peter Fonda, Bobby Seale, Elliott Gould, Bruce Campbell and Winona LaDuke have all come to the theater.

For more than 10 years, the Oak Street Cinema has been a place for political expression through film. It has also allowed a younger generation to see Francois Truffaut, Robert Altman, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Roman Polanski, Yasujiro Ozu and Michelangelo Antonioni on the big screen.

The University community doesn’t need more overpriced, generic student housing. The University doesn’t need more sandwich and burrito restaurants and Starbucks and Jamba Juices.

It seems that the independent store, the independent restaurant and the independent bar are gone or will soon be bought up, like the Oak Street Cinema.

San Francisco has begun to regulate business development to maintain the city’s culture and originality. St. Paul’s City Council has regulated development on Grand Avenue. If the campus is to remain a destination, the Minneapolis City Council or the University needs to intervene and protect what unique entities we have left.