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Travel to Sydney


Golden Age Cinema, Sydney

1 May 2014

Neha Kale meets the people running historic independent movie theatres

If there’s a fine line between the sentimental and nostalgic, then the Golden Age navigates it with aplomb. The 55-seat basement cinema might be based in a heritage-listed building that was once the epicentre of Australia’s film industry, but it’s less interested in recreating the past than in showing Sydney cinephiles how old-fashioned rituals can deepen modern-day film appreciation. 

“We wanted to create something for a modern audience that stayed true to historical DNA while avoiding clichés,” says Barton, who established the Golden Age in 2013 and whose previous ventures have included Rooftop Cinema, a venue that combines open-air movies with 360-degree views of the Melbourne skyline. “We knew that it was something we had to tackle through design.” 

Together with his brother Robert and a local cast of interior designers and furniture makers, Barton set about re-imagining the theatrette, a dusty space that hadn’t been used since 1971, by installing antique theatre chairs from Zurich and building a moody, thirties-inspired bar that’s the perfect backdrop for an anticipatory cocktail or post-film discussion. Barton maintains that the bar, which offers buttery leather banquettes and salted caramel sundaes, was the element of the Golden Age that was hardest to get right. “The bar is really beautiful and brand new but feels like it was always part of the building. That was the hardest thing to achieve creatively,” he says. 

However, the Golden Age’s focus on reacquainting audiences with the thrills of an evening at the pictures isn’t limited to the pleasures of a pre-movie drink – it also invites viewers to buy tickets to classics such as American Graffiti and Creature From The Black Lagoon at original, pre-inflation prices.




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