A new Revolution

Keep an eye out for the Cinema Revolution sign next time you drive down Lyndale Avenue. Owner John Koch just has to figure out which of them he plans to stick in the window of Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave. S.

"Since I’ve been at so many locations I’ve got quite a collection of signage," Koch said.

For those of you keeping tally at home, this makes five locations in the six years since the DVD-rental store first opened. But this move into the Intermedia Arts building marks the beginning of a new era for store, a 25,000-disc collection of classic, art house, independent and foreign films and documentaries.

Koch closed down his for-profit rental business earlier this year, and quietly reopened July 1 as a not-for-profit entity.

Cinema Revolution is still renting DVDs ($4.20 for four days), but it’s operating with an all-volunteer staff. As for Koch, he’ll be collecting a small stipend to manage the store.

"We’re making as many concessions as we can to keep it open," he said.

Koch said Cinema Revolution struggled in the cutthroat rental market almost from the time it opened in October 2003. Switching to a not-for-profit model should make the business more sustainable, he said.

"I kind of wish I would have started out this way," he said. "But I never could have foreseen the competition going this way and the economy being how it is."

Koch said rentals bottomed out in February and March, around the low point in the current recession.

The new Cinema Revolution is located in the mezzanine level at Intermedia Arts, in a space roughly the same size as Koch’s last store. He planned to keep the same hours: noon–midnight Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m.–10 p.m. Sunday.

The later opening on Sunday allows time for church services to wrap up down in Intermedia Arts’ gallery and theatre. Intermedia also took a financial hit during the recent economic turmoil and survived, in part, by sheltering an eclectic group of organizations that includes two local churches.

Koch said his staff would monitor the Intermedia Arts galleries during business hours, potentially extending its hours much later into the night. (Current gallery hours are 12 p.m.–6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.)

Koch planned to use the Intermedia Arts space to host lectures and discussions on the auteur-driven films his store has always celebrated. A series of movies by local filmmakers wrapped up earlier this month, but Koch plans to begin hosting regular screenings again in September.

Koch said he hoped to celebrate the new store’s location with a grand opening sometime before August, when the Minnesota Fringe Festival pretty much takes over the Intermedia Arts space. Stay tuned.

One more thing: If you haven’t, yet, update the bookmarks on your web browser. The store’s new web address drops the .com: www.cinemarevolution.org/.