Hundreds of Highlanders had the opportunity Sept. 23 to finally see a documentary about Keith Stata and the iconic Highlands Cinema he built in the woods of Kinmount.

Filmmaker Matt Finlin and his crew presented a private screening of The Movie Man this past Saturday.

The documentary chronicles the creation of the movie house, dubbed, “the greatest theatre in the world,” by Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, who was an executive producer for the project.

Stata said, “I was impressed with how many people came, and how many people I recognized that have been coming over the years.”

As for the film, he joked, “I saw the rough cuts of it, and I like it much better now.”

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Stata said since news of the documentary came out, he had a number of people tell him how much the theatre has meant to them.

A short Q and A after the screening introduced the audience to executive producer Finlin, partner at Door Knocker Media, Karen Barzilay, Robertson, and Stata.

A boisterous, and appreciative round of applause welcomed the filmmakers, and the star. Barzilay also announced The Movie Man has been picked up by Mongrel Media film distributors for release across Canada.

Finlin thanked those involved in making the film, and the audience, and said Stata was his inspiration.

“Keith has dedicated his life to providing a special experience to people for generations. In the film, we speak about how time is so important and what we do with it, so thank you, Keith, for giving your time to all of us for all these years.”

Musician: ‘Stata has made our lives richer’

The film goes through the many transformations and additions. It is much more than just a multiplex cinema, but a testament to the passion of the man who built it. All the artifacts, projectors, displays, and memorabilia are memories, Stata said.

The film also explores the uneasiness of COVID and the possibility of not being able to re-open. “I sometimes think, where did all the time go? The struggles to build the theatre, the nights I didn’t have two dimes to rub together, but I was just going to do it and see if hell would freeze over or not, or what would happen next. The theatre is important, I mean I put so much time and so much effort into this place, somehow it has to continue,” said Stata

The audience also got a chance to thank Stata for what he has done for them personally and for the community at large.

Ed Sharp, from CanoeFM, said it was a real pleasure knowing Stata, and the great things he does for the community. “Thank you for being the great person that you are.”

Another said coming to Highlands Cinema from a very young age inspired her to go to film school. She is now in the middle of shooting her first feature-length film. “My love of films and filmmaking comes from this cathedral that you have built.”

Stata spoke about being successful and Robertson summed it up by saying, “what you are talking about is wealth, but you have been enormously successful. You have made the lives of everyone who has ever been here richer. You have created something unique, you created something beautiful. You celebrated the thing you love, and we are all so grateful.”

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