By Luciana Leitão
Cinema viewing has a long history in Macau. In the 1930s or 1940s, people used to go to the cinema more often than not. There were several cinema houses spread through the city. Nowadays, of course, we cannot complain, as we have the high-tech rooms at Galaxy Macau, in Cotai. Still, there is one reminiscence from times gone-by, which is Cinema Alegria, right in the middle of historic Macau.
It was built in the 1950s, and it’s located in the crossing between Travessa da Corda and Estrada do Repouso, at San Kio neighbourhood. It started out with 800 seats, but it increased to 1160, becoming one of the biggest cinema rooms in Macau, up until the appearance of Galaxy Macau’s UA Cinemas. A group of wealthy merchants, leaded by Ho Yin, was behind it. It started out exhibiting patriotic films, showing on occasion films from communist regimes, such as North Korea and Vietnam, together with Hong Kong productions.
During the Cultural Revolution, ultra-revolutionary films were screened, while in the 1980s, western films and Hong Kong productions were a part of the programme. Throughout time, the theatre has suffered adjustments to fit the modern times, yet it still remains a bit forgotten.
I’ve always been intrigued by it, as it keeps reminding me of lost times — times which I didn’t witness —, yet, even though the appearance is from the 1950s, it is fit with modern equipment to project in 3D, for instance. A pity for me that the films screened are only Chinese and usually don’t have any English subtitles, leaving me, unfortunately, at a loss.
On occasion, doors open up for local directors to show their productions, which is always good. And it’s also a good venue for cinema festivals and occasional events. I remember in 2007 watching a cinema-concert featuring Eisenstein’s classic Battleship Potemkin accompanied by its soundtrack, played by Trio Bravo+. An amazing experience. One can only hope more of these can happen at that iconic historic venue.