Cinema A reel love affair

A reel love affair

In the age of digital and DVD most of us have lost the technical art of projecting film. Cinematograph projectionist, Janadien Cupido, is one of the few masters left in this field – living and working with film in all its forms to keep it alive. Cue interviewed him at the Olive Schreiner room at the Monument about how his passion for film was born.

“It was around August of 1968. I was still in primary school, when I was assisting my brother in the projection booth in Cape Town. I got fascinated with these projectors. I said to him, ‘What are those things with the sparks coming out everywhere?’ He took me to the projector and he explained to me in detail that this is the upper mechanism, this is the lamp. And so I looked around and

Janide Cupido loading a roll of film onto the projecter. Photo: Charles Harry Mackenzie

Janide Cupido loading a roll of film onto the projecter. Photo: Charles Harry Mackenzie

said, ‘But this thing is running at a speed!’ It was running at 1,400 revs per minute, four picture frames per second and travelling at 90 feet per second followed by sound. I was fascinated.

“Then I became my brother’s assistant in the projection booth, on the condition that my mother agreed to it. I began with manually rewinding the reels for him for the next screening.

“I completed my apprenticeship in 1968 at the Broadway Cinema in Lansdowne, Cape Town. I got my license in ’73, and I worked with the late James Polley at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town. In 1990 James brought me to Grahamstown for the National Arts Festival. To the day it is 25 years that I’ve been here.

“The magic of the film image could be seen in pictures such as Ben-Hur, which was in 3D. It filled the whole screen; unlike the tiny little DVD screen that we have in today’s time. In the opening of each film we would turn the volume up in the projection booth at the opening credits to get people’s attention, especially with the lion from MGM studios. It was just amazing. Projector image, to me, is just the real thing.”

Jesame Geldenhuys,
Cue student reporter

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