Cine Astor, the first cinema in Kissamos.
The old projector has been inactive for the past 24 years. The seats though, still have the same brown color. If you could visit the place you would actually feel the memories it represents. Entire generations grew up visiting ‘Cine Astor’ in Kissamos. It was the place that entertained the whole town of Kissamos. It is Giannis Stamatakis’ place, a man who is well known among locals as ‘Stamatogiannis’. He was the one who was responsible for the tickets, he was the one in charge of how the place worked, he made the projection, he was actually responsible for everything.
The cinema opened its gates in 1957. ‘Stamatogiannis’ built the place and he was initially planning to open two different shops in the building. He changed his mind and he decided , in one night, to make the first cinema in Kissamos and also one of the first in the prefecture of Chania. His exact words are: ‘I was always thinking in a different way, I was too daring for my age. It’s not only the cinema. After that I made an estate agency and also a recording studio.’ At first he was just the owner of the place but not responsible for the cinema. He had rented the place to Polakis, a man from Chania, until 1967. Then, their contract expired and Mr Stamatakis took a loan from the local bank in order to pay 265.000 drachmas for a new projector and new seats so as to rebuild the whole place.
‘Too many people were visiting the place. It was overcrowded day and night. On Sundays, the cinema was open from 14.00 at midday until late at night’.
There were so many movies that so many people wanted to watch. In those days there were not many opportunities for having fun. Going to the cinema was a way out.
‘I remember a movie with Ksanthopoulos (seal of God) or ‘El paso’ movie. It was shown 3 times a day. The cinema was so successful and the movies seemed so real on those days. I can remember people bending or lying down to avoid the crashing of an airplane shown in the film. ‘There were –of course- many unexpected situations with people falling asleep and snoring, bothering others’ or ‘when I locked the doors after the end of the film and one guest had fallen asleep in the last seats, so he stayed there for the whole night’ ‘Stamatogiannis’ recounts.
These and similar events kept happening in the cinema of Kissamos until 1970. Then, the television set entered people’s houses and this led to a decrease of 50% of the people who went to the cinema. In the late 80s the video appeared and there was another 30% decrease. The cinema closed down in August, 1990. ‘It was the last movie ever. We couldn’t survive as a business any more. The cinema was financially suffering for some years but we loved it and we did everything possible to keep it open. Finally, we didn’t make it.’ The owner adds.