Happy Birthday Cinema Nova

Cinema Nova
Cinema Nova 2
Carol Saffer

On August 27, 1992, Cinema Nova, a humble two-auditorium venue, opened its doors on the ground floor of the then Lygon Piazza in Carlton.

To celebrate the 30-year milestone, a twin gala screening event on Wednesday, August 24, will kick off a week of festivities, and a retrospective program of memorable and favourite movies will run for a week beginning on Thursday, August 25.

The Nova Nostalgia Gallery and Exhibition will be shown in the foyer throughout the month, showcasing three decades of its history through exclusive images, newspaper clippings and historic movie posters.

Two of Melbourne’s cinema icons in the 1990s, Natalie Miller and Barry Peak, joined forces to open the new movie house.

Natalie Miller’s The Longford Cinema in Toorak Rd, South Yarra was renowned for screening Australian and international films.

The Valhalla in Richmond, owned by Barry Peak, was famous for long-running seasons of The Blues Brothers and The Rocky Horror Show, where audiences sang, danced and knew every line of dialogue.

Cinema Nova was their baby, and the movie-going public loved and welcomed it.

Opening night in 1992, The Favour, The Watch and the Very Big Fish, a 1991 comedy film directed by Ben Lewin, starring Bob Hoskins, Jeff Goldblum and Natasha Richardson, was screened alongside Mediterraneo, the Academy Award-winning Italian comedy-drama.

It is now the largest and most popular independent cinema in the Southern Hemisphere.

Cinema Nova has a reputation for extended seasons, giving movies screen time they may not have achieved anywhere else to the delight of discerning audiences. Some of them ran for more than 20 weeks.

Cinema Nova CEO Kristian Connelly said, “Our programming doesn’t chase the dollar; it chases the culture.”

“We were the first cinema in Australia to open a digital-only theatre when 35mm was the standard projection method.”

“This is now known as ‘alternate content’ where we project live stage events from the likes of New York’s Metropolitan Opera and London’s National Theatre not long after their premiere performances.”

Cinema Nova is well known for hosting many film festivals, including Monster Fest, Melbourne Documentary, Melbourne International Film Festival and the Iranian, Palestinian, and Russian Festivals.

It is a cinema complex that boosts the global movie industry in Australia and prides itself in projecting culturally diverse stories. •

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