A footnote to Jasper Lindell's farewell celebration of the Capitol Cinema ("Second act comes to a close at the passion-provoking Capitol Theatre", May 17, p8) is that the original theatre was inaugurated, back in the silent days, under the managership of Franklyn Barrett, an energetic showman who had previously been one of our most prolific filmmakers. As distribution prospects for locally made films became increasingly unfavourable, Barrett closed his studio in 1922 and moved across to theatre management.
Most of his films are now lost. The two that survive in the National Film and Sound Archive - A Girl of the Bush and The Breaking of the Drought (both 1921) - show his flair for documentary realism and for capturing the character of the Australian landscape. In the case of the latter film, this flair made it a prohibited export - because it would reveal overseas the disastrous state of the NSW countryside! Yet it is Barrett's lost films, such as Know Thy Child (1922) on the subject of illegitimacy, that will be forever the most intriguing.
With the closure of the Capitol, its first manager deserves to be remembered.
Ray Edmondson, President, Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive, Kambah
Beyond just a bookshop
I read with dismay that the BeyondQ Bookshop in Weston may have to close as a result of the impact of COVID-19 ("BeyondQ bookstore and cafe teetering on the edge", Relax, May 17, p19).
The impact of the virus, and consequent shutdowns, on otherwise viable small businesses is distressing; small businesses don't have the backing of a head office to fall back on.
The federal government talks about rewarding entrepreneurship but has turned its back on the arts sector. As well as being a bookshop, BeyondQ is an important performance venue for folk and related music in Canberra. It's one of the few.
This would seem an area where the ACT government should stand up and be counted. Otherwise Canberra will emerge a lot worse off once we've passed the worst of the virus.
Tim Field, Red Hill
Water wet, sky blue
An outstanding front page piece "Commute times crash in pandemic" (May 17, p1). I sat in wonderment, aimlessly stirring my coffee, whilst pondering the empirical data collected by Roads ACT. Surprisingly, the data revealed that with fewer people on the roads it took less time to drive to destinations! I look forward to more thought-provoking journalism of a similar ilk. May I suggest "Grass grows in spring"?
T J Farquahar, Ainslie
Lessons can be learned
When we reach the end of this historic event and come to terms with a new post-COVID-19 reality, I hope we remember the lessons learned. Governments can act on the scientific consensus. The average person will make personal sacrifices and put others first when it means safeguarding our futures. Decisive, dramatic and sweeping change is possible.
The worst bushfires in history were just months ago, with the scale, damage and trauma reported worldwide.
When scientists, national parks experts and firefighting veterans tell us that bushfires are more extreme due to climate change, we must remember that we learned to listen and act.
William McLennan, Weston Creek
Aim high for iconic site
Recent letters have put forward arguments both for and against the proposed development at West Basin. Personally I would be happy with no or minimal development here, but clearly that option disappeared long ago and there are some good points in favour of development in this location. It is close to New Acton and represents a small proportion of the shoreline. Of far more concern is the type and quality of the development.
This is an iconic site that could be used for something fabulous. Canberra's equivalent of the Opera House perhaps? Is the Barr government capable of delivering anything approaching such quality? I suspect not, and think the likely outcome can be divined from the mention of there being 2000 units being included in the development.
I imagine only a minimal amount of land will be grudgingly allocated to provide public access to the shoreline. This is a unique site and deserves something much, much better.
Jim Derrick, Florey
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