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Opening the curtain to his 'reel' life A conversation with Bob Golibersuch

When Bob Golibersuch opened his cinema cafe in 1993, his aim was to give discriminating moviegoers an alternative to the small theaters in early multiscreen complexes. Today, the Screening Room in Amherst does that -- and more. In addition to offering film classics, independent movies and themed movie series, Golibersuch caters to many private events -- including some weddings.

At age 49, Golibersuch is a husband and the father of two boys ages 8 and 10. He has spent much of his life involved with movies, and would not have it any other way.

People Talk: Do you sit in the front row?

Bob Golibersuch: Now I do, because most of the films I go to are with the kids. I kind of see it with different eyes. Suddenly I'm not as cynical, and I realize it's fun.

PT: How does one get into the movie business?

BG: I always wanted to open up a movie theater as a kid. Since maybe 10 or 11, I just really loved the idea. I'd have clippings from the newspaper, and make my own little marquee.

PT: Do you remember your first movie?

BG: We went to a lot of Disney movies, but what really made an impression was "Poseidon Adventure."

PT: And now your parents work with you?

BG: It's not totally a family business, but they actually do help out making popcorn, taking tickets.

PT: Is your business lucrative?

BG: Because we can do all the other events here, it makes it more feasible. It's tough for any type of a single-screen theater to survive now. For the last eight years, we've been consulting, helping other people who are opening small theaters like this. It's funny, we helped a group open one on Hollywood Boulevard. It's called Cinespace.

PT: I can't believe people get married here.

BG: We've had weddings, yes. One couple was really into "The Wizard of Oz" movie, so we had stills on the screen during the actual ceremony, and they played the film during the reception. I think the flower girl was dressed up like Dorothy.

PT: How obsessed are you with movies?

BG: I'm not really obsessed, but I really think movies are an important part of people's lives. It's a way to escape for a couple of hours. A lot of kids get creative through movies.

PT: But movies are your life.

BG: They're a big part. I'm involved here, and I'm co-producer of the Buffalo International Film Festival. And I work as director of programming for a digital cinema network out of Montreal with 50 or 60 outlets throughout Canada, the United States, South Africa, Ireland, Australia.

A lot of what I do daily is related to movies. I'm watching them all the time. The digital technology has made it possible for just about anybody to make a movie. The negative is everybody thinks they can make a movie. Because of my work with the independents, I get 20 or 30 submissions a week.

PT: What's the oldest movie you've run here?

BG: We bounce around between older independent films and classic films. The oldest, we just did a couple of months ago, called "A Trip to the Moon." It's a silent movie from 1902. Before that, movies would show day-to-day things like people cooking or driving a car. This was one of the first ones to tell a story.

PT: Historically, Buffalo played a big role in the development of movies.

BG: Buffalo is important in the history of films, partly because one of the first full-time movie theaters in the world was in the basement of the Ellicott Square building. It was sponsored by [Thomas] Edison.

PT: Why are people such movie hounds here?

BG: It could be due to the weather, though Buffalonians have gone to the movies more than people in other areas of the country.

PT: Which movie always draws a crowd?

BG: "Casablanca." We usually show it for a week around Valentine's Day, and we get calls months in advance from people making reservations.

PT: I bet you put together some odd film series.

BG: Oh yeah, we do "Night at the Grind House" with a couple drive-in films from the '70s. We throw in some '70s trailers. We just had a French film series. Hitchcock is huge.

PT: What's your personal favorite film?

BG: "A Clockwork Orange" has been a favorite for years.