I grew up in a small town in Northern Alberta with a short supply of excitement or things to do. But my mother never let that stop us from finding joy in the little things.

I was raised watching Disney movies in our living room every night before bed. It was during this dedicated movie time that we got to decompress from our days and share a laugh or a cry.

Movies quickly became an escape from reality for me, a time to truly enter another universe and try on the glass slipper or become a chef in France. Certain movies became a source of comfort while others a source of anticipation. But regardless of the feelings that arose, movies were always a shared experience between my mother and me.

One of my favourite memories from my childhood was going to the movie theatre. Although my mother and I did enjoy movies at home, there was always something electrifying about going to the theatres to watch a new film. The smell of freshly popped popcorn, the sound of ice cubes dropping into cups and the outdated yet comforting ambience of our small-town theatre was hard to beat in my mind.

Oppeniehimer screens at the Plaza Theatre on Septmeber 25, 2023. PHOTO: ISABELLA WEST

Now, as an adult who moved away from that small town and to a big city, I had to find other places that brought the same level of comfort and joy. That’s when I came across the Plaza Theatre in Kensington.

The building that the Plaza Theatre now resides in was built in the 1920s as a car repair shop. However, it was soon after converted into a neighbourhood theatre during the Great Depression and has been welcoming guests ever since.

The thing I love most about the Plaza is the warm welcome, the inviting atmosphere and the history that transports you back to the golden age of cinema. As soon as the building is within eyesight, you can immediately tell that it has deep roots within Calgary from its letterboard and iconic lightbulbs which reminds me of the theatre from The Notebook. Once you walk through the doors, guests are greeted by an ‘old-fashioned’ concession stand that lights up the room with its neon lights and signature pink colour scheme. Finally, once you enter the cinema, you are allowed to choose any seat you want all while being greeted by the smell of an antique shop, in the best way possible.

Movie theatres are a place where people come separately but leave connected by the shared experience. Movies connect us, they remind me of home, of my mother and all of the times a movie solved my bad day. For me, the Plaza Theatre is my happy place and a connection to my home.

The Plaza Theatre concession stand radiates nostalgia with its vintage ambiance on Septmeber 25, 2023. PHOTO: ISABELLA WEST

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Isabella West is a fourth-year Journalism student at MRU. She completed her work term over the summer of 2023 at LiveWire Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Journal.