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Trylon Cinema’s 35 mm projectors continue captivating cinephiles

Trylon’s preservation of 35 mm prints is preserving film in Minneapolis.
With the rise of digitally shot movies, 35 mm projectors have become largely obsolete. Photo courtesy of Trylon Cinema.

The Trylon Cinema in Longfellow is the only movie theater in Minneapolis that screens 35 mm films.

For more than a decade, the theater has provided specially curated film programming to Minneapolis cinephiles. Heights Theater, in Columbia Heights, also shows 35 mm films.

On 35 mm, every frame is a singular image unique to the exact moment that frame was shot, which allows viewers to see films in their rawest and most natural form. It connects audiences with the medium with which films were originally captured.

Since Trylon’s opening, larger chain theaters have begun removing 35 mm projectors and replacing them with digital projectors to cut costs. With the rise and rapid takeover of digitally shot movies, 35 mm projectors became obsolete and 35 mm prints of films became increasingly rare to obtain, let alone project.

Establishments like the Trylon Cinema now serve a greater purpose.

“There’s a special visual quality to film that’s impossible to imitate,”said Daniel Aufmann, a University of Minnesota comparative literature Ph.D. candidate. “Black and white prints shine and shimmer as they run through the projector. Reflective surfaces pop out at the viewer, and shadows are a deep, true black that can be very difficult to achieve with digital technology.”

The preservation of film archives has become one of the greater missions in art preservation, and Trylon has extensive access to a large film archives collection, unlike, say, your nearest AMC. This makes it a dream for local cinephiles.

“Movies on film are a direct connection to film history. You step into the theater, silence your phone and sit back to experience a technology that has seen only a few changes since the 1890s. You become a part of that history, and that experience is absolutely irreplaceable,” Aufmann said.

John Moret, the film programmer at Trylon Cinema, finds showing films on 35 mm rewarding.

“It’s more expensive and much more involved, but it’s also, I believe, much more of a production to be able to watch a 35 mm print. It’s special because it’s a one-of-a-kind item that is a physical object, handled, threaded, then projected,” Moret said.

Moret credited the impressive projection team that Trylon has for keeping a rarity in art alive.

“As things become obsolete, they become more special in their nature of them as a short-lived item. We’re a bit spoiled for that in Minneapolis to see films projected and projected well,” Moret said.

Minneapolis resident Eric Mueterthies said he feels grateful that Trylon is “introducing a community of movie-goers to great films in the medium they were meant to be seen.”

Trylon Cinema shows curated selections of classic films seven days a week with tickets at $8.

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