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Créma-torium Café & Cinéclub brings art-house films to Lansing

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As the creator and curator of Créma-torium Café & Cinéclub, Mason resident Jake Mervyn may have finally found his calling. 

“I’m one of those ‘has had 20 jobs’ people,” he said. “I’ve dabbled in entrepreneurship several times before; cassette labels, wedding videos, furniture making and home renovations. Every silly millennial occupation that you can think of has certainly been filled by me at some point.” 

His latest venture is a monthly event series that features curated films and specialty coffee and tea. The club hosted its third showing last week at The Robin Theatre in REO Town, screening the delightfully campy, absurdist teen drama “Nowhere” (1997). 

For Mervyn, it is a long-held aspiration realized. “I grew up in movie theaters because both my parents managed them my entire childhood. Then I worked at one myself for five years, and I’m rooted in deep nostalgia for that,” he explained. “Since my mid-20s, I’ve dreamed of opening a small indie theater, but it wasn’t until I got into specialty coffee with my job at Strange Matter that I came up with the idea to mix movies and coffee.” 

The passion Mervyn brings to this project is evident in every aspect. Each event has a theme (this month was “queer sci-fi”), and Mervyn curates not just the month’s film, but the trailers shown beforehand, an accompanying essay on the club’s website and collage art used to promote the event. This do-it-yourself ethos permeates the proceedings, with pay-what-you-can pricing, conscientious content warnings for the audience and the genuinely accepting and warm atmosphere you always find at The Robin. 

This sense of inclusion and community was one of Mervyn’s main inspirations for Créma-torium. 

“I was at a bit of a crossroads in my life, and I felt like I really had no place to go to and relate to people. The modern world is super lacking in its ‘third spaces,’ and I thought it would be great to have a place where people could come and chill, have coffee and watch a movie and discuss,” he said. 

It is clear Créma-torium is the realization of something others want more of in their lives as well, as the last screening’s very healthy turnout suggests. The event was sponsored by Jake’s employer, Strange Matter Coffee, and complimentary scones, coffee and tea were available, along with a seriously excellent candy spread (Swedish Fish AND Reese’s Pieces). In the bizzare, time-warp week between Christmas and New Year’s, it was the perfect way to get out of the house. 

Mervyn is thrilled to be doing what he loves and, with this goal accomplished, is setting his sights on the next. 

“I would eventually love to see this project in its own space, as a late-night, non-alcoholic bar with comedy-club-styled seating and a few screens. I’m always on the hunt for some dirty space to renovate and make that happen,” he said. Créma-torium Café & Cinéclub’s “Japan-uary” event will be a screening of “Kamikaze Girls.” Follow on Instagram for more information or visit crema-torium-cineclub.square.site. 

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