Movies and So Much More at Red River Theatres
story and photo By Stacy Milbouer and Tom Long
Fiddlehead Contributing Editors
What’s the difference between film and cinema? Film is the actual movie that flickers on the screen while cinema is everything else. It’s the popcorn. It’s the seats. And most importantly, it’s the shared experience of seeing a movie with others – strangers and friends.
And that’s what Red River Theatres in Concord is all about. It’s about the community of cinema.
Since it opened 12 years ago, the nonprofit cinema, which shows first-run independent, art and classic films, has served as the entertainment center for passionate cineastes in the capital city and throughout the state. The theater’s mission is “to present film and the discussion of film as a way to entertain, broaden horizons and deepen appreciation of life for audiences of all ages.”
“Red River has matured, not only as a place to see indie film,” said Executive Director Angie Lane. “It’s really about community engagement and through our movies and other events, sparking important conversation about issues concerning our state, our country and our world.”
A lot of how that is accomplished is the physicality of the theater itself.
It’s situated on 11 South Main St., in the heart of Concord’s downtown, with direct access to an adjacent parking garage. There are three screens: the Lincoln Financial Cinema, which seats 156, has room for wheelchairs and a small stage at the front of the house to accommodate speakers or musicians; the Stonyfield Farm Culture Center, which seats 110; and the Simchik Cinema, which has moveable seating for up to 25.
There is also a cozy café with seating just perfect to foster pre- and post-film conversations and a snack bar stocked with local beer and wines, including selections from local makers like glasses of red and white from Gilmanton Winery, chocolates crafted at Concord’s Granite State Candy Shoppe down the street, chips with Mitchell’s Fresh brand salsa produced in neighboring Bow and brews from New Hampshire micro-breweries.
“You know when you walk through the door here this is different than a Regal or Cinemagic complex. It’s a place where you make connections – where you can run into neighbors or turn to a total stranger and have a conversation about film. That’s magical and there’s nothing like it in the state,” said Lane, who added visitors come from all over New Hampshire, not just the Concord area.
And of course, there are the movies themselves. First-run independent flicks like “Harriet,” “Spin the Plate” and “JoJo Rabbit.” Throughout the holiday season, Red River will have classic holiday movies, including “The Polar Express” on Dec. 14 and 21, “Elf” on Dec. 15, “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Dec. 19 and “White Christmas” on Dec. 22.
The theater, knowing the passion of its film-loving audience, also does it up big for Oscar season. It screens the nominated films in the big categories as well as the more obscure animated and documentary shorts. And it all culminates in a blowout red carpet Oscar party on the night of the awards, which will be held Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020.
The gala event is the theater’s biggest fundraiser and includes dancing with a live big band, signature cocktails and appetizers and, of course, screening of the awards with intermittent movie trivia contests and prize giveaways.
“People dress up in Hollywood glam,” said Lane. “And we’re fortunate enough that New Hampshire’s own Ernest Thompson lends us the Oscar he received for “On Golden Pond” for guests to hold and get their photograph taken.”
Red River Theatres opened in a 2007, after a variation on the theatrical cliché “Hey, gang, let’s put on a show.” In this case, “Hey, gang, let’s open an art house.”
It took seven years for Concord cineastes to raise $1.8 million to build the facility. Its name is a nod to “Red River,” the classic 1948 Howard Hawks film in which John Wayne and Montgomery Clift endure an endless, but eventually successful cattle drive on the Chisolm Trail.
For more information, call 224-4600 or