Romuva cinema

Vitalijus: I remember Romuva from my childhood. A very long time ago, when my brother and I were little, we saw Phantomas here. Behind the cinema, there was an ice-rink, and we would go there to have fun with other children. Cinema was not an expensive entertainment option back then. It would cost 10 kopeks for children, and evening screenings, the most popular ones, would cost 70 kopeks. The room was divided into areas: more expensive in the front and less expensive in the back.

I came to work to Romuva myself as an engineer in September 1993. Since then, I was working here for quite some time, until this cinema was overtaken by R. Šalūga. I did not work long with him, I quit quite soon. Later I needed to go back and restore the cinema to its former self.

When I started working in Romuva, its director was Arvydas Kuzminskas. He maintained the cinema quite well: now there is a memorial plaque for him in the building. Back then, we would still screen Russian films, but the largest audience would gather to watch the American films like Around the World in Eighty Days, Mackenna's Gold and so on: these films would gather an impressive number of spectators... The most impressive screenings were those of Titanic. When this film was released, the ticket office would start working before the screenings and the queues would reach Merkurijus. The theatre would be so crowded that people would ask for standing tickets. The theatre now is more beautiful inside than it has been before: back then, it was not like an amphitheatre, and chairs were wooden, without any cushioning. We had two tiny video rooms installed: one in the foyer of the theatre and the other at the premises of current administration. They were tiny and could hold 10-15 people. There we would screen videos on a VHS system: there were not many VHS players and people would come to watch them.

The staff then consisted of the director who planned the entire repertoire, the cashiers, the accountant, film mechanics and me, the engineer looking after the entire infrastructure and electronics. There was also an artist. The posters she painted used to be hung in front of the cinema, under the roofs which, it seems, has survived since Smetona's times. The artist would select one scene from the film and copy it using her own video projector. When printed posters appeared, her services were no longer needed.

A house nearby (Laisvės Alėja 56) belonged to the brothers who founded Romuva. Some time ago, the granddaughter of one of the brothers came to Kaunas. She sold the adjacent building immediately, while the shares of the cinema were immediately sold out to cinema employees and municipality. When handing over the theatre, the granddaughter expressed her will that in Romuva building, would always be the cinema and nothing else, because she wanted to preserve the memory of her family. (2014)

Dovilė:  I saw my first horror film in Romuva!  I think it was Urban Legends 2. I did not hang out with my father much back then and going to the cinema was some of the few childhood memories I have with him. There were 7 people in that screening. Probably it was the death of the cinema... And those old chairs were unforgettable! Later I tried to watch the same film on TV. After six years, it seemed even funny, but back then, it scared me quite a lot.

Later when I was working as a bartender, one of the clients asked me: Would you like to go to the concert?The concert took place in Romuva. All rows were full, and we were seated at the back. I remember that feeling, sitting in a concert at the movie theatre, it was something interesting. Back then, I did not think that I was going to do what I do now. When Romuva closed, I had a dream to organise a concert here and relive that feeling. It happened after a year or a year and a half. Half of the seats were full. I started thinking: It would be interesting to organise a concert for the entire theatre of people!And last June, we did it. Now I don't know what else can be expected from Romuva... :) (2014)