Traditional Cinema Bio Forum
Established in 1912, it is the oldest countryside cinema in Finland, and the second oldest overall. The cinema has around 100 seats, and the overall furnishings create a comfortable
and intimate environment. Although technically bang up-to-date, the theatre still has all its original wall coverings and fixtures.
“The local people are very kind and well-behaved” says owner/caretaker Esa Halonen. “They haven’t broken or destroyed anything.”
Esa’s parents began their stint at Bio Forum in 1943, and it has been his life for the past 50 years. He began as a young boy doing the outside work (clearing the leaves in autumn and the snow in winter) and later moved to inside work. His mother, Mirja Halonen, ably assisted by her sons, ran the theatre from 1949 until 1996, when she was 84.
Esa loves his work. “In fact, even in those years when I had another job, I was still doing my work here,” he says. “I took care of the theatre with my brother and mother every evening. This is an easy job because the days are mostly free and the theatre is my own. I am very happy with my job.”
Esa has many wonderful memories from his 50 years of service. He recalls great movies that he has seen many times, and the sweets he was always allowed to eat when he was young boy. He was always popular among his school friends, too, because all small boys want to get into the movies for free.
Life’s not just a bed of roses, however, and Esa has a few sad memories. Several times, he has had to phone an ambulance when a customer has been taken ill, and occasionally customers purchase their tickets in advance, only to lose them before the performance begins.
What about the size of his audiences? “Well, I honestly think it’s a bit of a waste of time showing a film for only 2 or 3 people,” he says. “When there are 20-30 customers, I’m happy, and when the theatre is full, I’m really happy.”
The Bio Forum has shown thousands of movies during its lifetime. In the early days, it was silent films, with live piano accompaniment in the auditorium, wooden chairs and an outside toilet in the garden.
Esa is also fascinated by trends in the popularity of different genres. For some decades, he notes, European films were much more popular than American ones. These days, it’s the other way around.
Bio Forum operates its own movie club, and also arranges visits for local schools.
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