Aavora — at the top of the listings

It took its name from a date palm native to western Africa so that it could – due to its double-A spelling – be the first cinema listed in the newspapers. «These types of details mattered a great deal,» said the cinema’s director, Theodoros Rigas, who also runs the Vox, Riviera, Athinaia and Panathinaia. In the foyer are old photographs of Hollywood stars and posters from classic films. In the distance is a projector from 1928, which at one point operated as a reserve projector for the cinema. Rigas sits in a small office above the bar every day between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. He never goes down to the entrance, but he sits next to the cashier and watches the crowd – how they look when they come in, when they leave, whether they have enjoyed themselves, if they’re talking about the film they just saw. Classics «I bought the Aavora in 1983,» Rigas said. «It had been operating since 1964 and I turned it into an outlet for art films and classics. We are very much into classic cinema. We have screened ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ‘Gone With the Wind,’ and ‘Casablanca’ and have created a crowd of our own who feel happy when they come here, a place they love and where they can also enjoy a good film. Some people call from Corinth and ask when the shows start so they can start heading here.» Rigas is a great believer in tradition. «I haven’t changed anything here. I just did the required remodeling to make sure the building was still OK and could still stand. We always want to have a good film, even if it doesn’t sell a lot of tickets. We’ll keep going as long as we can. Sometimes the people who come here surprise us. For 29 weeks, we were playing ‘Cinema Paradiso.’ Christos, the mechanic, had bet that we could last 30 weeks. But in the end, he didn’t win.»