Dorothy Browns boutique cinema and bookshop is an integral part of Arrowtown and as Miranda Spary suggests it is hard to imagine the town without the sophisticated little movie theatre.
Tracking down Dorothy Brown’s creator is no easy feat. Dorothy Brown is her alias and when she’s not sitting in the cinema sipping wine and watching films, she could be photographing gorillas in Rwanda, cycling through the mountains of Bhutan or attending one of the dozens of film festivals she supports around the world.
Arrowtown locals refer to the theatre as “our” cinema and when I ask Dorothy if her intention was always to create such an important asset for this small community, her repy –
“Of course not. I wanted to watch great movies in an intimate setting and to be treated like an adult. I wanted to be able to stretch my legs out, not bump my elbows with my neighbour and see over afro hairdos. I wanted delicious cheeseboards and the finest chocolates to nibble on in the dark, and a fabulous glass of wine, too – maybe even a whole bottle.”
She is delighted though, that the locals feel such a sense of ownership of the cinema. In the nearly 20 years since it opened, the customers have been putting their stamp on it – there’s a book where they can write down the movies they want to see screened, and a book club that anyone can join meets every month to share the latest, greatest books they’ve read with members coming from all over the world.
The bookshop adds to Dorothy’s philosophy that a visit to the cinema should be much more than entertainment. She says that because the bookshop is so tiny the selection is superior and it is not surprising it has become a destination in itself.
Moviegoers arrive at Dorothy Browns early to check out the latest publications and first timers to the cinema are always surprised and delighted to be included in conversations about books, movies and local happenings. Total strangers don’t stay strange for long. There’s a lovely sense of belonging at Dorothy Brown’s that’s very addictive.
Lucky, lucky Arrowtown.