Keeping the Keystone

The art/independent theater reopened as the Keystone at Riverside for now, but the deal needs to be renewed in December

The Man Who Wasn’t There

The Man Who Wasn’t There

When she first moved here from Chicago late in the summer last year, Susan Sink worried that she wouldn’t be able to see the movies being talked about on National Public Radio or being written about in The New Yorker.

Sink and her husband, George Hart, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Nevada, Reno, quickly found the Keystone II at the Reno Hilton. They dove right into cinematic offerings like Croupier. “It was such a surreal experience to see it in a casino,” Sink says. That same week, the couple went to see Jesus’ Son. By that time, Hot August Nights was in full throe, and Sink says it was about 100 degrees out.

“People were hitting golf balls into that pool at the Hilton and bungee jumping in the parking lot,” Sink says. “The strange world of the film was nothing compared to the strange world outside the theater. I knew we’d be OK in this strange new world of Reno if the Keystone was here to offer a retreat from the mainstream.”


But the cultural comfort didn’t last. The Keystone II was already on its last leg that fall. When it closed, Sink despaired that she’d ever be able to see films not offered by the mainstream theaters. Six months later, she was thrilled to see that the Keystone had been revived again—this time as the Keystone at Riverside, located within the Century Riverside 12 in downtown Reno.

“The Keystone has brought nearly every release we’ve wanted to see,” Sink says. “When Apocalypse Now Redux came, that was a great thing. It’s a movie we were too young to see the first time it came out. … We thought we’d have to drive to Sacramento or San Francisco to see it, but we were thrilled when it came to the Keystone.”

The Keystone’s late fall line-up hits the spot for Sink. She’d been hoping to see Amelie.

“If you follow the work of certain directors—Jeunet did Delicatessen and City of Lost Children—it’s wonderful to be able to see these films in a real theater, without waiting months and months for the video release,” Sink says.


Selecting the indy and art films that suit Reno is a tricky business. Keystone film diva Lyndy Mercer not only has a flair for picking the right flicks, she puts in tons of time looking at the market, reading trade publications, going to film festivals and listening to the buzz. She balances this research with her personal opinion about a film and a sense of what’s worked well in Reno before.

In the past few months, she’s picked many winners. Each film that opens at the Keystone is booked for a week, and then longer depending on public response. Since the Keystone at Riverside opened in March, all the films have run two to four weeks. Memento ran 10 weeks.

When I ask her to name the best films: she’s seen recently, Mercer hesitates. Then she names off two films, The Man Who Wasn’t There with Billy Bob Thornton, and Amelie, a French movie directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It’s just a coincidence that those are the shows playing this week at the Keystone, she says.

“You asked what films impressed me lately,” she says. “And it just turns out that those are the ones coming up. The Man Who Wasn’t There is going to get some Academy nominations. Amelie is great.”

After the November-December film line-up, the future of the Keystone at Riverside is uncertain. Mercer’s agreement with Century Theaters runs out at year’s end. Loyal fans fiercely support the Keystone, and business has been good, with Mercer’s picks usually running on two to four screens. But Mercer still feels a bit of unease.

If folks would like to show Century Theaters how important the Keystone is to them, she recommends posting a comment at the Century Theaters Web site,

“I like to remind people that it needs continued support," she says. "I hope the Century and I can reach an agreement so that I can continue to bring art and independent films to Reno."