CENTURY CINEMA CORTE MADERA
A county favorite for its one-movie-at-a-time mentality, the 800-seat Corte
Madera theater features a giant screen
and high-quality sound good enough for
George Lucas to occasionally hold
screenings there. 41 Tamal Vista
Boulevard, 415.924.6505, cinemark.com
LARK THEATER Always a center of
entertainment, the Lark Theater was
built on top of a horseshoe pit. The art
deco–style theater opened in 1940 and
has functioned as both a movie theater
and an arts venue over the years. The
building lost its luster in the 1990s and
was slated for demolition in 2003, but the
community rallied to launch the “Save
the Lark” campaign, which succeeded in
bringing the iconic theater back to life.
The Lark is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places and is a
winner of the Art Deco Society
Preservation Award. 549 Magnolia
Avenue, 415.924.5111, larktheater.net
142 THROCKMORTON THEATRE
Initially called the Hub Theatre, 142
Throckmorton is one of Marin’s oldest
— it celebrated a centennial this year.
Back in 1914, the Hub played host to
silent films starring actors like Charlie
Chaplin; this year, MVFF will screen a
variety of pictures in the historic venue.
142 Throckmorton Avenue, 415.383.9600,
CINEARTS SEQUOIA The Sequoia,
another downtown Mill Valley gem,
opened in 1929 as a mecca for lovers of
silent films, talkies and live performances.
The theater was such a success, in fact,
that it put the Hub out of the movie
business. In 1975 the theater was
“twinned” or split into t wo theaters, but
the exterior design remained — and
continues to remain — faithful to the
original vision. 25 Throckmorton Avenue,
CHRISTOPHER B. SMITH RAFAEL
FILM CENTER Founded in 1920 as the
Orpheus, the Smith Rafael Film Center
was birthed from a fire, which forced the
closure of the original theater in 1937.
When the doors opened again in 1938, the
space was called the Rafael. After the Loma
Prieta earthquake rocked the foundation
in 1989, the San Rafael Redevelopment
Agency and the Film Institute of Northern
California (now the California Film
Institute) teamed up to rebuild the theater.
Planning and construction took six years
(1993–1998), but in 1999 the Rafael Film
Center was, once again, open for business.
The theater elongated its moniker to the
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
in 2003 — Smith, a Tiburon philanthropist,
donated $500,000 to the film center in
2000. These days, the Smith Rafael shows
a variety of award-worthy films and
recordings of live performances from
across the pond (think Royal Shakespeare
Company) and serves as base camp for the
Mill Valley Film Festival. 1001 Lootens
Place, 415.454.1222, cafilm.org ■
AUDIENCES FLOCK TO the Mill Valley Film Festival to see incredible stories come alive on the big screen — but did you know that the theaters that house the films have equally compelling tales to
tell? Here are some fun facts about the spaces that will
showcase must-see movies throughout the festival.
Local Theater History
Like film itself, these venues share a storied past.
BY CALIN VAN PARIS
From top to bottom:
The Lark Theater in
1946; the Sequoia in
the 1950s; the Rafael
in the 1940s.