Movie Houses of Worship: Minneapolis’s The Trylon Microcinema

Trylon 5

The Trylon Microcinema

Location: 3258 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

No. of Screens: 1

Opened: July 2009

History: You can’t properly tell the story of the Trylon without pausing to remember the late, great Oak Street Cinema, an Art Deco style movie house in Minneapolis that screened classic and indie selections from around the world. The Oak Street was kind of like my first car: It was old, clunky and died an ignoble death, but it took me places I’d never been. Trylon repertory programmer Barry Kryshka takes the story from here: “A lot of the people who were instrumental in founding the Trylon were involved in the Oak Street Cinema. The big impetus was we loved the programming the Oak Street was doing, and when it stopped we wanted to continue it somewhere else, some way.” Barry and others launched the nonprofit Take-Up Productions and started showing movies in 2006 anywhere they could, whether it was in a city park or a back alley. By 2009, the group had saved up enough to buy their own permanent space, in a former art supply store. “We built out the theater and the projection booth,” says Barry. “It was a warehouse, basically.”

Trylon Lobby

Current First-Run Titles: None. First-runs comprise only about 10% of the Trylon’s overall programming. The theater kicks off each quarter with a month-long series of premieres. Notable past selections have included Pedro Costa’s Ne Change RienLeviathan (the French 2012 documentary, not the 1989 horror flick – although, as you’ll see later, both would be welcome on The Trylon’s screen) and this past December, A Touch of SinBastards and Camille Claudel 1915.

Repertory Programming: A David Lynch series will run for five weekends in February (Eraserhead, Dune, Mulholland Drive, Wild At Heart and Blue Velvet). On Mondays and Tuesdays, beginning February 3rd, the Trylon plans a four-film series on Sissy Spacek (Badlands, 3 Women, Missing and Carrie). “The Sissy Spacek series was totally just a whim,” Barry says. “But Eraserhead was a new print so that drove the David Lynch series.”

Trylon SignSpecial Events: John Hanson, co-director of the 1978 Camera d’Or-winning documentary Northern Lights, recently spoke on two consecutive nights to sell-out crowds. The ongoing Trash Film Debauchery series highlights horror, sci-fi and b-movies. Hellraiser IV: Bloodline on February 26th will complete a three-film rumination on what happens when long-in-the-tooth horror franchises wreak havoc … IN SPACE.

Why I Worship Here:  I first discovered the Trylon when I was seeking a theater to premiere my 2010 short horror film Empty Trash. The Trylon seemed like a natural fit. It seats 50, and I felt kind of pretentious renting out a full-sized theater for a 20-minute short. But I keep coming back because the programmers have impeccable taste in both high- and lowbrow culture. I love its intimate feel, too. We live in a time when the major theater chains are trying to compete in a crowded media space with an all-out assault on your senses. The Trylon feels more like a cozy little clubhouse. And there’s ginger beer (!).

Recent Screenings of Note: “We sold out every show that we had of The Jerk,” says Barry, “and we sold out every show of Barry Lyndon.” Aside from the usual 10-to-15% of omnivorous regulars, there wasn’t much overlap between the audiences for both ’70s classics. The Trylon tries to hit everyone’s sweet spot.

Trylon 1

Devotion to the Concessions: Traditional fare like Dots, Milk Duds and Sour Patch Kids co-exist peacefully with real-buttered organic popcorn and boutique citrusy soda pops. And there’s ginger beer (!). I think I said that already. My apologies. I’m a ginger beer fiend.

Last Word: In March 2012, I had an experience that pretty well encapsulates everything I love about The Trylon. I was sitting in the sold-out theater with an audience of practically every demographic eager to see Bergman’s 1957 masterpiece Wild Strawberries. The film’s original Swedish title is Smultronstället, which Wikipedia tells me literally means “the wild strawberry patch” but “idiomatically signifies an underrated gem of a place, often with personal or sentimental value.“ Well, I guess that makes The Trylon my favorite smultronstället.

Exterior photos and lobby photo by J.L. Sosa. Box office photo courtesy of Trylon Microcinema.

J.L. Sosa is a freelance writer, photographer and horror filmmaker. He's burdened with an irrational fear of spiders and clowns. He loves (in descending order of magnitude) his girlfriend, his pets and spinach.

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