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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 29 - June 4  > Residents work to maintain movie theater in tsunami-hit town
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2013 May 29 - June 4 [GREAT EAST JAPAN DISASTER]

Residents work to maintain movie theater in tsunami-hit town

May 30, 2013
In a coastal town of Iwate devastated by the 2011 massive tsunami, residents are trying to raise funds for a local movie theater to continue its operations there.

“Miyako Cinemarine” in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, is the only movie theater in the Sanriku Coast (extending from southern Aomori to northern Miyagi prefectures) as well as the only movie house in Japan run by a consumer cooperative. Located close to a river, it narrowly escaped the quake-induced tsunami in 2011.

Listening to residents’ and co-op members’ requests, the theater picks what to show from the latest movie lineups. It also screens documentaries which are rarely shown in major movie theaters. It now plans to show a series of documentaries whose subjects are related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, such as Michael Moore’s “Sicko” depicting healthcare issues in the United States.

“We have to install a digital projector sometime soon. This is the most serious financial issue we have faced since the theater was founded,” said theater president Kushigeta Kazunori.

In March, cinematographic films went out of production. More than 80% of movie theaters in Japan have already completed digitalization of their equipment. Purchase of a digital projector costs about seven million yen.

The number of people going to view films at “Miyako Cinemarine” has been slowly decreasing since 2001 and drastically decreased by 30% since the major disaster in 2011.

Miura Kiyo, representing the Miyako Movie Co-op, said, “Following the closure of all seven movie theaters in the city 16 years ago, residents worked together to open this theater.” The co-op is now asking its members and other residents for donations to keep the theater open.

The movie co-op has also toured the tsunami-hit region to screen movies for disaster victims. By March this year, it hosted 178 movie showings at evacuation centers and temporary homes in nine municipalities on the coast of the prefecture with more than 7,000 people attending the viewings in total.

“This is the type of cultural support theaters can provide for disaster victims. We’d like to continue our support activities,” said Kushigeta.
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