/Congratulations Keith

Congratulations Keith

By Chad Ingram
don’t remember the first time I went to Highlands Cinemas. It would
have been in the 1980s. I would have gone as a kid with my family during
a visit to the cottage. It was likely to see a Ghostbusters or Peewee
Herman  movie, or something of the sort. The memory is fuzzy and inexact
and comes in little snapshots, small flashes from a now-long-ago
wouldn’t go again until I moved to Haliburton County in my mid-20s.
Returning to the theatre, there was still something familiar about it.
Probably because the icon that Keith Stata has built on a hillside on
the outskirts of Kinmount is so singularly unique, not unlike the man
theatre had of course grown since I was there as a kid. As was
mentioned in a feature on Highlands Cinemas’ 40th anniversary last week,
over time, Keith added to the original theatre, creating what is today a
five-screen multiplex attached to his home. 
course, going to the movies in Kinmount is about much more than the
movies themselves. It’s about the whole experience. Keith has amassed a
gargantuan collection of memorabilia and antiques, from posters to props
to film projectors, that form the theatre’s museum. This collection,
paying tribute to a century of Hollywood film, coupled with the decor
and smell of popcorn, create a vintage atmosphere full of nostalgia. In a
world of sterile, corporate cineplexes, Highlands Cinemas is a glimpse
of the gilded sheen that was once such a central part of the movie-going
cinemas were first designed,” Stata said in the story, “theatres were
really the cathedrals of the motion picture, decorated with gold,
marble, velvet. The guy who didn’t have very much could go to this
cathedral, this grandeur and watch this flicker on the screen, and
hopefully identify with something he saw, and leave with a good memory.”
essence is still alive in Kinmount, and certainly generations of people
over the past 40 years have formed great memories there. While other
smaller, independent theatres in places like Minden, Haliburton Village
and Fenelon Falls have faded to black, Keith soldiers on. 

was a point a few years ago where the technological evolution of the
film industry presented him with a stark choice – spend hundreds of
thousands of dollars converting his projectors to digital format, or
close. Luckily for us, Keith chose the former, and we can still look
forward to that marquee coming alive and those doors opening each
Movies, like books or music or any other form of art, are
escapism. That’s their magic. They transport us from what can be the
doldrums of daily existence to somewhere else. And that’s where a trip
to Highlands Cinemas takes you. You’re no longer on a hillside in a
sleepy little town in Ontario cottage country. You are somewhere else.
Congratulations, Keith, on 40 years in business. And thank you for taking us all to the movies.