Repertory theater reopens door for area film buffs

The Oak Street Cinema closed in July due to a temporary decline in attendance.

Kelly Gulbrandson

After closing in early July, the Oak Street Cinema reopened its doors to the public today.

Road construction in Stadium Village caused a decline in customers during an already- slow period for the theater, prompting the temporary closing, Jim Brunzell, Minnesota Film Arts office manager, said.

Oak Street Cinema is one of the only independent theaters located in the area, showing films from the 1940s through the 1970s, as well as independent and foreign films, he said.

Minnesota Film Arts office coordinator Andrea Ferber said independent theater has a lot to offer a community.

“A lot of the films we play have more meaning and depth than some films played in Hollywood,” Ferber said. “It is also important for people to see all different sides of a film.”

Recent University graduate Theresa Purcell, who worked with the theater before and was involved in a University student film group, said lack of funding was another reason for the closing.

“A lot of people lost a big part of the independent film industry over the summer,” she said.

Because of the theater’s small budget, it was also unable to advertise effectively, Purcell said.

She said Oak Street Cinema doesn’t receive the national funding other theaters, such as the Landmark Center in St. Paul, receive.

Purcell said she hopes students realize that Oak Street Cinema is open again and take advantage of it.

While the theater’s advocates stressed its importance, it’s not as recognizable to some University students.

First-year medical school student Travis Dunn said he has never been to Oak Street Cinema because he commutes to school and doesn’t often hear about it.

Emily Rakes, a vocal performance senior who lives on Washington Avenue, also said she might go to the theater if it were better advertised.

Other students, however, look forward to the theater’s reopening.

Post-secondary education student Ava Ramberg, said she’s been to the theater because they showed films she’s heard of, and because it’s one of the only independent theaters in the area that she’s familiar with.

“With major films, you end up paying too much for the ticket and a lot of them are not original,” she said.

Ramberg said independent theaters can help college students discover different films.

Child psychology junior Bailee Herman said her Introduction to Film Studies class got her interested in French and other foreign films.

“The films can be more educational and unique,” Herman said. “They also can be more unpredictable and focus more on art.”