This month, we chatted with Moira and Ali Adlan of the Hyland Cinema in London, ON. The oldest operating cinema in the city, Hyland Cinema holds a special place in the heart of southwest Ontarians; don’t miss their diverse calendar with many special events, or their piri–piri flavouring on Ontario-sourced organic popcorn!
Moira and Ali opened the Hyland Cinema in 2004 after it was shuttered for 16 years. Previously, Ali had a career in cinema in the United Arab Emirates, where he was responsible for screening the first on-screen kiss in the country(!). Moira worked in the world of production, teaching film and television at a local college.
Today, Moira and Ali are looking to retire and pass Hyland Cinema on to trustworthy new hands who will uphold the independent cinema ethic and fill the space with new ideas. If you’re interested to learn more, please reach out to Moira at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What makes Hyland Cinema unique?
The original 514-seat Hyland Cinema opened as the Elmwood in the Depression-era 1930s. The south London showplace offered double features made up of second-run movies. Later, it became a first-run art house specializing in British films such as Henry V, starring Laurence Olivier.
The cinema backs on to one of the more artsy areas of London called the Wortley Village. We have lots of customers that walk in from the surrounding neighbourhood. Our parking lot can be empty and there will be 40 people in the cinema.
What sort of films do you show?
We show classic arthouse fare. We encourage local filmmakers to premiere the films on the big screen. Like most independents we have great community connections and work with a large variety of community groups to tie in films and special events.
What are Hyland Cinema’s greatest challenges?
Our greatest challenge is trying to schedule a single-screen cinema so that we can screen our regular films as well as multiple special events and rentals.
What are your favourite compliments that Hyland Cinema receives from your audience?
There is not a bad seat in the house.
We love that we can just drop in for a film at the last minute, especially on the weekend.
What’s a memorable film screening or event you hosted?
My Father and the Man in Black (2012). We hosted the premiere in London by the son of Johnny Cash’s original manager. It was a 400-seat sell-out with folks lined up down the block. Just the good old days!
What are your most popular concession items?
Ontario sourced organic popcorn with double butter! Our pizza and piri-piri flavour seasons are a big hit.
Our menu includes awesomeness for free. Lots of people like to order it!
What projects are you considering for the future?
We are teaming up more and more with local programmers and events.
Tell us about yourself; how did you get your start in film exhibition?
Ali ran the cinema section of a cultural foundation in the United Arab Emirates. He was responsible for screening the first on-screen kiss in the country.
Moira worked in different areas of film production and was teaching film and television at a Women’s College.
When we visited London, ON, we noticed the old Capitol Cinema was for sale. We didn’t manage to save it but we did find the Hyland was still relatively intact and available. We put our skills together and The Hyland opened its doors and the marquee lit up again after 16 years.