Roland Smith is a former cinema owner who administered and programmed the first repertory movie theatres established in Canada; the Verdi, the Outremont, L’autre Cinéma and Le Laurier in Montréal alone. He also extended his passion to the Cartier in Québec City, the Festival in Sherbrooke, the Lumière in Trois-Rivières, as well as the Vendôme in Hull. He operated in this milieu during the 60s 70s and 80s. The Outremont was the most determining in his long career which, from 1971 to 1987, offered movie lovers more than 500 different films each year, films often shunned by the standard networks. It was in these locations that the films of Allen, Bergman, Leone, Polanski and many others were first seen. His Revue de Cinéma also experienced great success with a quarterly run of 325,000 copies, as well as his integrated Video store which offered the same quality and variety as the theatrical programming.
The after-Outremont was no less animated… Experiences followed; among others, he was Director General of the Famous Players Cinemas for Quebec – 60 screens. Roland Smith was also a programmer of the 1st Festival International / Cinéma Fantastique in 1992, presented in three halls of the Eaton Centre Cinemas. He next worked in the emerging milieu of video sales and rental, notably at La Boîte Noire (buyer of the audiovisual/importing rights for films from the American producers’ market), the Librairies Renaud-Bray (buyer for the chain of bookstores – video sector) and the Groupe Archambault (buyer - video). His involvement in the world of video was noticed by the SuperClub Vidéotron chain where he was manager of the Mont-Royal branch for six years (1995-2001). Starting with a video club in the red, he quadrupled sales in the first year by bringing in a rich contribution of several thousand cassettes that belong to him…and this was only the beginning, thus lending a different personality to his club. He succeeded in creating a perfect balance at the level of choice between independent films, the repertory classics and new releases. They didn't hesitate in giving him a new challenge, that of purchaser for a network of 188 film stores - films for resale and the repertory section in a number of target stores.
He left SuperClub Vidéotron at the end of 2004 and put himself to the task of attending world cinema festivals, including that of Cannes in which he took part more than 30 times. He then decided to make a return to the theatrical screening of films by founding the company LES FILMS DE MA VIE / LES FILMS D’AUJOURD’HUI. He acquired a number of distribution contracts, including that for the film ROIS & REINE by Arnaud Desplechin. In March 2006, he distributed the Denis Côté docu-fiction: LES ÉTATS NORDIQUES. A number of contracts with Quebec producers/directors enabled him to make television, DVD and institutional sales, and 35mm rental in theatres across Canada.
Today, he continues his long journey by returning to the roots of his cinema experience; theatrical screening. « Roland Smith has succeeded through the variety of his programming, in bringing a definite direction to the artistic dimension of film », said Pierre Lampron, the ex-president of SODEC. His mission seems clear: to make use of all the milieus that offer him the chance to show great films, and thus share his infinite passion for this 7th art.