WATERVILLE — Railroad Square Cinema, an independent movie theater run under the Maine Film Center, will celebrate its 40th anniversary Friday with the screening of a short documentary made about the theater’s history.

“Railroad Square Cinema: For the Love of Film” is a 30-minute documentary by Portland filmmakers Michael McDade and Laura Ozmet-Schenck that follows the theater’s history from its founding in 1978 to the present day and an impending move to downtown Waterville.

“It’s really an iconic art house movie theater,” said McDade, who was inspired to make the film this spring to celebrate the theater’s anniversary. “The fact they’ve been able to hang in there 40 years and survive, even after their building burnt down in 1994, it’s a pretty inspiring story.”

A rough cut of the documentary will screen at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Railroad Square Cinema as part of a 40th anniversary celebration, according to a news release from the theater. They’ll also be screening two films from the theater’s opening day in 1978.

At 4 p.m. is “Seven Beauties,” an Italian film following a 1940s-era, small-time thug from the streets of Naples to a German concentration camp overseen by a female commander.

“Casablanca,” the 1943 masterpiece starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, will be shown at 7:30 p.m.

Admission to the documentary is free and it will be followed by a discussion with the five founders of Railroad Square Cinema — Ken Eisen, Alan Sanborn, Lea Girardin, Gail Chase and Stu Silverstein — all of whom are interviewed in the film.

“The film is really based on the story of the founders,” McDade said. “It’s a great local story of people seeing a need and developing that type of business and being able to survive 40 years despite changes in how people consume media.”

Railroad Square started in 1978 and underwent an expansion in 1981 before fire destroyed the cinema on the night of Oct. 10, 1994. Colby College lent the founders office space on its campus as they worked to rebuild immediately and eventually re-opened in July 1995, the release said.

In July 1998 the cinema hosted the first Maine International Film Festival, which has continued for the past 21 years as an annual showcasing of the best of American independent and international cinema and classic revivals.

The cinema was bought in 2012 by the nonprofit Maine Film Center, a partnership that has enabled the installation of new digital projectors and allowed the cinema to apply for grants and expand its programming.

Recently, the film center announced plans to merge formally with partners — the Waterville Opera House and Waterville Creates! — as they anticipate the redevelopment of The Center building at 93 Main St. into a downtown center for the arts.

Railroad Square Cinema is planning to move from its current location in Railroad Square into the new site, where it will have the benefit of additional classroom space for editing, filmmaking and film appreciation, the release said.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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