Cinemas come and go, but sometimes, there is one among those that holds the most memory in us as a filmgoer.
For me, the place is Studio XXI eX in Jakarta.
The four-hall cineplex was the most luxurious cinema when I was in the middle of my permanent shift to town around 9 years ago. I was mesmerized. Never before had I seen high end materials adorning spacious, bright cinema lobby, and I was even more amazed with the seats. Those big, comfortable red seats with wide leg room, so big that we just threw ourselves easily and comfortably as our back rubbed against the soft fabric of the chair.
However, beyond the plush experience, it was the moments that make the memories.
As I joined Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFest) a year after I stepped in the eX cinema for the first time, I realized that the year’s festival was actually to be held in the cinema.
We heard complains, we heard praises for the move. Suddenly the festival reached out unassuming mall visitors in addition to regular patrons. The festival that year was one of the most attended editions, and the most fun one for us to organize.
The festival began my attachment to the cinema.
As I lived nearby to eX the shopping centre, I always made a point to watch latest films here. Be it on weekday or weekend, be it alone, with friends, or with my then partner, the cinema was the to-go destination.
Most of the time, I came to the cinema to watch on Saturday night for midnight shows. I remember watching Juno with friends; Dreamgirls, on which we clapped after Jennifer Hudson’s big number; The Tree of Life with a friend on a date, which I’m sure the date was ruined by the absurdity of the film, and many others.
There were some film launching events or premieres, most of the titles I couldn’t remember anymore, but I did recall watching Kala there.
This is the cinema where I applied for my first local credit card, the one that comes with buy-1-get-1-free ticket, which is obviously the reason I applied on the first place. It only made more sense then that this is also the cinema where I used the card most often.
This is also the cinema where I hardly had any problem with the crowd. Most people may be overtly dressed up to watch films on regular screenings, but be them in casual sneakers or gown, audience were hardly annoying. I don’t remember shushing noisy audience here. Even if I did, they came very few in between.
For almost a decade, coming here has become a regular habit.
Then came the news of the cinema closure.
When I read the news yesterday, I could only stare at my phone in silence and disbelief. Another cinema gone, but this time, it’s not an ordinary cinema.
For the cinema itself, it started as the pioneer of other luxury cinemas in town.
For others, it started the experience of comfort in watching films on big screen.
For me, it started the cinema-going habit in then a new town.
I always love cinema, and it always hits me the hardest whenever a cinema is closing down for good.
Cinemas come and go, and soon enough, they may be forgotten.
But sometimes, there is one you will remember the most.
That is a much treasured eX.