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A Piece of Our Past Becomes Our Future

Sawtell Cinema way back whenIn 1941 Doris and Alan Brissett purchased the Community Hall on Sawtell’s First Avenue, added some wooden tiered seating and a projection room and the Sawtell Cinema was born.  For three generations the Sawtell Cinema remained in the Brissett Family.

Over the years the cinema has faced plenty of disasters, and on each occasion the community has stepped in to help.

In 1955, a mini-cyclone ripped through Sawtell, totally demolishing the cinema.  The “show must go on” was the catch-cry of the community, and Sawtell had its very own open-air cinema as the building was being rebuilt.  The projector was powered by an old Ford pick up truck and patrons would bring their own cap guns for Westerns and umbrellas for rainy nights.  Twelve months later the triple brick structure that today’s Sawtellians recognise as the Sawtell Cinema was completed.

In March 2009, a metre of water flooded Sawtell, causing extensive damage to the cinema and forcing a 6-week closure.  Yet again the community was there for support.  A group of citizens formed the Friends of the Sawtell Cinema, which stepped forward to support the cinema.

It was the cost to change over to digital projection technology that eventually forced the closure of this much loved local treasure.  The Brissett family put the cinema on the market in March 2012.  When no buyer came forward, the cinema was closed in December 2012.

For two years Sawtell Cinema patiently waited for the community to show their support yet again.

A group of local patrons stepped forward to purchase the original building.  In March 2015, Council approved plans for the renovation of the Cinema, including an upgrade to a digital projection system, division of the cinema into two separate theatres and toilets on the inside of the building so you won’t have to get wet on rainy nights!

There was a buzz of excitement in the Sawtell air.  When the community was asked to help fund the cost of the new seating the response was extraordinary.  Over 400 people raised more than $140,000…enough money to fund all new seating and all new screens for two cinemas.  We do love our little cinema.

The Sawtell Cinema reopened on 17 December 2015….and our history rolls on!