By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer to the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor
Originally published in June 25, 2008
I have long loved the concept of an independent movie theater; a place featuring movies with subtitles, shorts and other unique, unconventional films. As a fanatical French student in high school, I often visited an independent theater called The Lincoln to watch French films. This theater introduced me not only to French film, but also to indie films and I developed a fondness for these quirky off the wall and often thought provoking movies.
While living in the Denver area, my husband and I frequented several independent movie theaters, but upon moving to Northern Colorado we were disappointed by the lack of such an establishment. In April 2007, The Lyric Cinema CafÃ© opened on Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins and at long last, Northern Coloradoans had a different kind of theater to visit.
The Lyric Cinema CafÃ© has been a longtime dream of Fort Collin native, Ben Mozer. When he was fourteen, Mozer’s family vacationed in Spain where he remembers watching “Pulp Fiction” in what he recalls as the coolest movie theater ever. “I remember it being huge,” he said. “Though it probably isn’t as big as I remember. It had a bar in the back and couches.” The image of this theater stayed with Mozer. He eventually attended film school in Bozeman, Montana and then moved to Los Angeles after graduation. He ultimately moved back to Fort Collins where he and wife Elizabeth started a family and Mozer began looking for ways to make his dream of opening an independent movie theater come true.
The Lyric Cinema CafÃ© is the culmination of a dream and perseverance. The building at 300 Mountains was home to an auto body shop in the 40’s, it has been a dry cleaner, a thrift store and probably a variety of other forgotten businesses. The highly visible location worked perfectly for Mozer’s vision, but obtaining the building was only half the battle. Mozer and lifelong friend Josh Glossi, toiled to turn the old building into a working theater.
The results is a sunny cafÃ©, adorned with movie posters, a corner television, a pile of games such as Scrabble and Memory, a cluster of tables and a counter serving up beer, wine, desserts and a selection of tapas-style dishes. Tapas is the name given to a wide variety of appetizers and it is on the menu as result of Mozer’s inspirational trip to Spain. Mozer fondly remembers long evenings in Spain spent dining on small plates of delicious food at various tapas bars. The cafÃ© also features ceviche (citrus marinated seafood) and sangrias.
This Friday night we stopped in for sangria and a cheese platter on the patio. Served with crackers, this good-sized platter comes with a wide assortment of soft and hard cheeses, including my two favorite, smoked gouda and mozzarella wrapped with prosciutto (a salty Italian ham). The place was packed with a variety of patrons, including college students, retirees and several parents with their adult children. The audience is often a reflection of what is playing. Currently, The Lyric is running a French comedy called “Priceless,” Helen Hunt’s directorial debut “Then She Found Me,” and a British comedy, “Son of Rambow.”
The Lyric sells all the usual theater fare, such as candy and fresh popcorn. We decided on “Son of Rambow” and paired it with gummy bears and couple Coronas. The two theaters are long and narrow, equipped with regular seats and in fulfillment of Mozer’s childhood dream, couches.
Though the film stars two children “Son of Rambow“ drew a crowd of mostly adults. It is the story of two very different boys: one from a strict religious family and one with no parental influence at all. The two come together to make a film they call “Son of Rambow.” Rambo is spelled wrong because they don’t know how to spell it. It is funny, sweet and British.
Films such as this often never make it to the big theaters and places such as The Lyric provide a venue for these films to be seen. Without independent theater, many good films wouldn’t be able to find an audience and it is likely these films would eventually stop being produced. The Lyric has featured some blockbusters in its short existence; films like “Juno” have been shown and their most popular show to date was “Into the Wild.” But they often feature obscure, yet brilliant films that other theaters overlook.
The Lyric is located at 300 E. Mountain Avenue, just a few blocks east of College Avenue. Prices are $8 for adults, $6 for matinees and students are always $6.50. For show times and cafÃ© menu, visit www.lyriccinemacafe.com or call (970) 493-0893.