Savouring the Cinematheque volunteer experience


It’s a busy life being a university student. Lectures, tutorials, papers, and exams quickly eat away the hours in the week, along with potential commitments to part-time jobs, clubs, and friends. As a film student, whose spare time is filled with 12-hour days on set, I have an especially busy schedule. So how in the world do I find time to volunteer on top of it all?

The answer is simple: I love working at the Pacific Cinematheque Theatre. Before I began volunteering at the theatre a year ago, I never thought of myself as the volunteer type. When I thought of volunteering I envisioned someone serving soup, or working with animals in a shelter — activities I could not see myself enjoying.

The Cinematheque is nothing like this. Instead I serve popcorn and sell tickets to moviegoers. Why then, you might ask, do I not work somewhere like a Silvercity Theatre where I can earn money and do the exact same thing?

The Cinematheque is no regular theatre, as it screens what I would call ‘essential cinema.’ These include new releases, classics, or rarely seen gems, which often stay with me long after I’ve left the theatre. I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, From Up on Poppy Hill, Tokyo Story, and even Dirty Dancing all for the first time at the Cinematheque.

The Cinematheque’s movies have inspired me with their craft and beauty.

These movies inspired me with their craft and beauty by stirring my emotions, and by making me question my assumptions about life. As a film student, it means a lot to me that there is a place in Vancouver that screens these types of films — films that otherwise wouldn’t be seen in theatres by audiences today.

The theatre is small, with only one screening room, and a modest number of volunteer employees. Without volunteers, the Cinematheque wouldn’t have the capacity to operate. The experiences this theatre provided me as a viewer inspired me to help keep it alive, so that others could experience essential cinema as I had.

Along with my passion for the work the Cinematheque does, I also volunteer at the theatre for the benefits it provides. As a regular volunteer working one shift per week, I receive a monthly pass to see free films at both the Cinematheque and Vancity theatres. This means I get free movies and popcorn!

I also have the privilege of working with amazing people. I’ve met passionate movie fans, creative artists, and made a few wacky friends along the way. We even hold volunteer parties where we all come together to watch movies. What else would we do?

All in all, volunteering at the Cinematheque has been a very fulfilling experience for me. Even with my hectic schedule, I still find it well worth my while to spend my Sunday afternoons at the theatre popping popcorn.