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Thursday 04th, January 2018 / 10:00
By Morgan Cairns 

CALGARY – The poster hangs outside The Roasterie, black with bold white print. No popcorn, no beer, no prizes, no box-office, no juries, no grants, the list goes on. Entering their third year of programming obscure films for coffee shop patrons, these are some of EspressoKino’s “negative values”. No pre-shows, no lectures, no pomp nor circumstance, just cinema and coffee. 

Forming in April 2015, EspressoKino began as a solution to a problem we Calgarians know all too well: nothing to do after 8pm. “We were having a talk one day about why no one was open late on 10th Street,” says organizer Sean Donohue. “Then we started bothering the owner of The Roasterie [Lech Wojakowski], why they aren’t open late. He said no one would come, so we said what if we did something.” 

Programmed by Sean Donohue, Guy Siewert, Mark Reynolds, and Monika Chyc, EspressoKino shows weekly films every Thursday night at The Roasterie cafe. “At the beginning, we weren’t going to play any sound, no music, it would just be a giant screen that plays old avant-garde movies, and we did that for a whole summer,” explains Donohue. “We were marginally successful, so we decided to continue, but we knew we were going to run out of avant garde films.”

Soon after, programming shifted from exclusively avant-garde shorts, to feature length films. With past programming including a focus on Fritz Lang, a Jim Jarmusch retrospective, and an entire month devoted to new-wave sci-fi, EspressoKino had found a new niche.

“We’re the only ones who are going to show the old cannon,” says Donohue. “As we’ve gone along, I look around at what other people are doing, and I realized that’s what’s not happening, no one’s showing pre-1980 films.” 

Kicking off their Winter 2018 season in January, Espressokino will present four different film series, each a month in length, starting off with Herzog + Kinski, a look into the love/hate relationship of director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski. Featuring films such as Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, the screenings will be peppered by clips from My Best Fiend, a documentary about the pair’s tumultuous relationship.

February’s feature will be none other than acclaimed japanese auteur Kenji Mizoguchi. Screenings will include Women of the NightStreet of Shame, and his most famous film, Tales After the Rain. 

“We have to show the famous one,” laughs Donohue. “Before, we were like, ‘Fuck having to show the famous one, no way.’ But we’ve had to learn to sublimate our own bad impulses sometimes” 

March will carry spectators into the swinging London with 1960s’ counterculture classics such as The Pleasure Girls, and Michaelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, and April’s films will center around the theme “White Suburban Panic” featuring John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13, and the 1979 film The Warriors.

Most of the programming obscure, the experience of watching these retro and offbeat films is only amplified by the screening’s unconventional location. “The real world is there all the time, it’s a coffee shop. The coffee shop is open, if they have to grind beans, they’re going to do it, right in the middle of the movie,” explains Donohue.

But despite the occasional interruptions and “added effects” of flashing police lights, Espressokino will get you out of the house and see these films the way they are meant to be seen.

“Is there even cinema anymore if you go and you get in a reclining chair, and there’s this box around you. It’s not the same,” says Donohue. “Part of the cinema is people watching them together.”  


EspressoKino screens every Thursday at 8pm at The Roasterie. Visit for more info.

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