Trylon microcinema shows old, rare, independent films

“The tradition of repertory cinemas came out of a need to show classic films to those that may have missed them.”

Caitlyn Dibble helps a customer before the start of a film at Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

Meagan Lynch

Caitlyn Dibble helps a customer before the start of a film at Trylon Microcinema in Minneapolis on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.

Joe Cristo

It used to be that a group of people could empathize with each other about the roles of certain movies or cultural landmarks in their lives. Nostalgia was not just a currency spent on “new” seasons on Netflix, cheesy genre rehashes and Blade Runner reboots.

For the owners and operators of Minneapolis’ Trylon microcinema, that community helped inform their outlook on the world.

“Like most film-lovers, movies have always been a great comfort and a great challenger,” said film programmer John Moret. “Most of us at the Trylon would be considered awkward in social situations, but we can all be together in a dark room experiencing the same thing and feel close to one another.”

The Trylon focuses on the preservation of that community and the art that helped foster it. A majority of the employees are volunteers and the owners and operators make essentially nothing from the business. They run it out of love for cinema.

“Obviously I love movies,” said theater manager and head projectionist Nikki Weispfenning. “Especially seeing movies in a cinema. I could survive in a world without movie theaters I guess, but it would be a much less interesting world.”

Trylon was borne out of the closing of another Minneapolis film community center, the Oak Street Cinema. After years of putting on screenings at other venues, outdoors and in back-alleys, the Trylon opened in the Longfellow neighborhood in 2009.

“When [Oak Street] closed, many of the staff volunteers were looking for a new project, so we moved and started Trylon,” said executive director Barry Kryshka.

Initially, Kryshka was responsible for strategic planning, running the theater, projecting and programming. After working with Moret for four years, he offered him the role of film programmer in December 2014.

Since then, Moret and the volunteers at Trylon have organized the movie schedules. Moret has to undergo a complex process when obtaining film rights from studios and procuring prints from around the world.

Trylon is a Take-Up Productions independent movie theater. Their purpose is to show old or rare prints of important films that might otherwise languish unused.

“The tradition of repertory cinemas came out of a need to show classic films to those that may have missed them,” John Moret said. “This was obviously long before home video. Independent filmmakers back then had to try to push their films into the mainstream via drive-ins or at repertory spaces like [Trylon].”

While the film schedule is curated carefully to include a mix of old studio fare, 1970s independent films and horror movies, Trylon plays the films of local independent filmmakers.

“Local filmmakers appreciate having a rental venue with reasonable rates that doesn’t skimp on the technical stuff,” Kryshka said. “We [only] have 50 seats, but in terms of picture and sound we hold our own against any theater in town.”

Trylon’s future plans are ambitious. They hope to expand to 100 seats and improve wheelchair access in 2017. Once they are done, they are thinking of rebranding as “The Trylon Cinema.”

Although the building’s structure may change, the foundation it was built upon will not. Trylon was built on community — a collective comprised of the memories and emotions of film and art lovers.

“My parents moved us to a small southern Minnesota town when I was in seventh grade,” Moret said. “Since it was a new place, I retreated to the video store. I made friends by inviting people over to binge-watch Bruce Lee films, Godzilla films [and] lousy comedies. In college I was introduced to foreign films and was amazed. They changed my whole worldview.”