“I’ve actually found out who George is,” reveals documentary filmmaker Gus Berger on the eve of the George Revival Cinema’s opening weekend. “It’s really quite a funny story.”

In a rare bittersweet opportunity, Berger (the man behind film events Blow Up Cinema and Red Hot Shorts) is breathing new life into St Kilda’s George Cinema after negotiating a six-month lease with the current owners, allowing him to bring great films back to the old white building before it’s handed over to property developers.

Running until February 2014, the program is a passionate appeal to all film lovers and will encompass live music in the bar, filmmaker introductions and special guest Q&As to complement the eclectic mix of new-release, documentary, retrospective, cult and classic films.

The opening weekend featured a spotlight on Quentin Tarantino, with a local tribute band playing well-known scores from the American director’s films.

In a nostalgic touch, Berger has sourced old photographs from the State Library picturing largely forgotten Melbourne cinemas and theatres to adorn the cinema foyer. “We’re definitely paying tribute to cinemas and theatres that no longer exist in Melbourne,” he says. “We’re hoping that we’re not going to become one of them.”

While the future of the revival hangs tensely in the air, for the moment Berger is content to reflect upon the proud pub owner from Ballarat after whom the cinema was originally named.

“One of the people who worked in his pub in Ballarat in 1850 left and bought the pub that was called The Determinist and renamed it The George Hotel. We’ve [created] a couple of posters in the cinema foyer to remind people and tell them a little bit about the building and the history of who George was.”

The George Revival Cinema reopened on August 16 and will run from Thursday to Sunday until February 2014.

The George Revival Cinema
135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda