|Ben Bristoll and Gayla D'Gaia of Compact Cinema.|
The guy behind it is an entrepreneur with a space at 16 West Marketplace, the hopping former cafeteria and later gym in downtown Roanoke. This center is one of the most interesting businesses or combination of businesses in the Roanoke Valley and now it will seek to fully emulate Grandin Village with its own specialty movie theater. It has 12 businesses within its walls, including a grocery store, several restaurants, a massage studio and on and on.
Already, 16 West shows Ted Talks every Wednesday at noon on its big-screen TV in the main dining area, a feature that is quite popular and has been since it moved from the Shadowbox Theatre on Kirk Avenue months ago.
Says Ben: "I'm going to show mainly documentaries and foreign films that educate the audience about various environmental, health, economic, and social-justice issues. These are movies with a mission, and as much as possible I will tie-in with local groups and individuals who are working on issues related to each film.
"Refreshments will be healthy and organic, but I will also encourage moviegoers to buy dinner at any of the restaurants or food vendors in 16 West and bring the food in to eat while they watch the movie."
Ben is working on the project with his significant other Gayla D'Gaia, who owns Sacred Beauty Boutique, which is next to his space at 16 West.
"I'm targeting a ticket price of $5 per movie, but that is not set in stone yet. My current plan is to show two movies each night on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and also have one or two matinees on Saturday. I'm hoping to have the first screening on Friday Feb. 21, but don't hold me to that, because there are still a lot of details to take care of.
"Thankfully, the tough part of actually building the theater (hanging the screen and projector, running all the wiring, and fine-tuning the image) is done, and the results are wonderful; it's a really good movie-theater-like viewing experience."