Lisle Hebert inside the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater. Photo courtesy of Collette Costa.

Lisle Hebert inside the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater. Photo courtesy of Collette Costa.

Celebrating the films of Gold Town Theater’s founder

A lot will be happening with the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater in the coming weeks, most notably the Founder’s Weekend Celebration for Lisle Hebert.

Hebert was the art house theater founder who died on Jan. 30 due to complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A lover of film and a well-known local filmmaker, he opened the theater in the late 1990s, current theater manager Collette Costa said. Costa began work with the Gold Town in 2009.

Costa said she had wanted to do a Lisle Appreciation day for the last year or so but then Hebert became too ill to attend, and the event never happened. Now, she’s organizing it in conjunction with the JUMP (Juneau Underground Motion Picture) Society.

“I wanted to recognize all the work that he had done, not only physically with the theater — building the theater and making an art house theater specifically for Juneau — but also to recognize the work that he had done in the industry and the films that he had made, the pieces he contributed to cinema itself. His pieces were mainly focused on Juneau and Alaska,” she said.

From Thursday, March 30-Sunday, April 2, Gold Town will show a collection of Hebert’s films, from his documentary and feature films to his advertisements. Starting the weekend off on March 30 at 6:30 p.m. the theater will show “Gold Town,” Hebert’s 1997, 35-minute docudrama about the founding of Juneau and its earliest notable folks. This film inspired the name of the theater, Costa said.

“(Hebert) used to show it all the time, and I don’t think most local people have seen it, and those who have, have probably not seen it in forever. It’s a really well done little film,” she said.

Gold Town hit the jackpot, Costa said, when one of Hebert’s friends unearthed “Lisle: The Early Years,” a 75-minute film shot in 1988 as part of the local late-night show “The Overnight Club,” hosted by Steve Nelson and Charlie Payne. The episode features Hebert, who was visiting Juneau while working in Hollywood at the time. He is shown wandering about downtown as he shares stories of his film projects and points out old haunts and filming locations. The whole episode is intercut with Hebert’s local, commercial and political ads; “Snapshots From Home,” a 30-minute time-capsule style documentary made in 1980 celebrating the capital city’s 100th birthday; and finally, “Henry’s Story,” a 15-minute documentary focusing on one of the city’s well-known downtown dwellers. This will be shown on Friday at 6 p.m. as well as Saturday.

After that, “Little Red Book” a 75-minute, 2012 romantic comedy about lost love, infidelity, and baked goods will play at 7:30 p.m. Other films to be shown Saturday are “Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being,” a 25-minute docudrama Herbert made on the impacts of colonization and influenza epidemic on the Yupik people, and “Crazy,” a documentary on the issue and treatment of the mentally ill and homeless in Juneau. In the film’s synopsis, Hebert says “This film’s title is ‘Crazy’ not because it deals with mental illness, but because the way we deal with mental illness and homelessness is crazy.”

Throughout the weekend will be the first showings of Gold Town’s latest series on classic films on 35 millimeter.

“This theater was set up to be a 35 millimeter theater, and there are very few of those left in the country…. I also want to start showing classic films because they also deserve screen time,” Costa said, stating she will kick off the series with “Sunset Boulevard,” one of Hebert’s favorites. “Lisle was a great fan not just of the films themselves but the actual physical film. He loved working on 35 millimeter. I wanted to keep that tradition alive, partly to honor his memory.”

The classic film series will keep to the theme of “escape,” Costa said. Gold Town members interested in helping select future films, or people interested in learning how to become a member, can reach her at

Another series soon to be kicked off will be Science on Screen, put on in conjunction with Friends of the Library. Prior to the showing of “Abyss” at the Gold Town, local scientist Michelle Ridgway will speak at the Juneau Public Library on what it’s like to operate a research submarine. She will set up an older model submarine she calls Aureo so moviegoers can see it as they enter the theater. For more information on this series, check out the Juneau Public Libraries calendar.

The other series will be the Not-So-Silent-Films series, during which short films will be played to live music.

For more information on upcoming film series with the Gold Town, go to its website at

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