IT WAS A SAD weekend for Bangkok’s film buffs, many of whom paid a teary-eyed final visit to the Lido Multiplex, which will soon close its doors after 50 years as one of the capital’s most prominent independent cinema venues.
The Lido will bring the curtain down on its famous Siam Square premises on May 31 and there was a constant stream of visitors posting farewell notes in front of the cinema.
“Feel dismayed! Thank you for screening good-quality films ever since it opened,” one filmgoer posted.
“Loved watching films at Lido – film lovers all enjoyed coming here,” another posted.
Late last year, there were rumours that landlord Chulalongkorn University was preparing to demolish Siam Square’s iconic the Lido and its sister cinema, Scala, both of which date back to the late 1960s.
The university’s property management office later confirmed the impending demise of Lido in a post on Facebook but were more ambiguous about the fate of neighbouring Scala Theatre. It said it aimed to develop the land and would therefore be ending Lido’s lease by June.
The 1000-seat Lido is long-renowned as a hub of art-house cinema and before the boom of multi-screen complexes in the early 2000s, Siam Square enjoyed a reputation as being one of Thailand’s best venues for film lovers.
On its very first day, June 27, 1968, it premiered “Guns for San Sebastian”, an action film starring Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson. In those days, Siam Square actually had three standalone cinemas – the others were the 800-seat-Siam, which was burned down in 2010, and Scala.
To farewell the iconic venue the Thai Film Archive will host the fifth edition of a “Silent Film Festival” screening 11 films at both Lido and Scala, the last of which will be at Lido before it closes forever on May 31.
The festival starts on May 24 at Scala with “The Passion of Joan of Arc”, a 1928 silent film based on the trial of the 14th century French heroine.
The Thai Five Archive is joining with urban conservationists, architects and cinema lovers to campaign to save the Scala.