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'Attacks happen like clockwork': Film distributors upset with continued screen slashing

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The Waterloo regional police are looking for two men after reports a movie theatre on Gateway Park Drive in Kitchener was damaged.

Police said on Saturday around 6 p.m., two people entered the movie theatre, and while there, one of the suspects used an unknown object to cut the movie screen and released a noxious substance. The theatre was empty at the time, and no physical injuries resulted from the incident.

The theatre was slated to play Palthu Janwar.

A local film distributor believes it happened because another major Indian language movie is set to release at the end of the month.

“These attacks happen like clockwork when any big South Indian movie is coming out,” Saleem Padinharkkara said in an email.“These attacks are meant to send a message to Cineplex and Landmark to not provide screens to us, and it’s already happening.”

In February, Princess Cinema’s in Uptown Waterloo was among several in southern Ontario that had their screens slashed.

“Before you knew it, they had ran out the back door and had slashed the whole screen in Cinema 2,” Joel Brubacher, then General Manager at Princess Cinema’s said.

Police announced they had arrested and charged two people in connection to those incidents in July. At the time, investigators said they believed the theatres were targeted because they were playing the movie Bheemla Nayak.

“We had heard of this sort of thing happening before with some of these movies. So I don't know if it's certain distributors or certain language movies, something that upset certain people,” Brubacher explained. “We have shown other Indian films with great success as well with other hosts.”

Members of the local Indian community say similar incidents have been happening at theatres for the last 3-4 years.

“It’s unfortunate a group of people or an individual has taken the community for ransom, because in Waterloo Region this is the only avenue that the Indian community has to go and see movies," Sivakumar Somasundaram, Executive Member of the Tamil Cultural Association of Waterloo Region said.

Somasundaram questions if more security or police action can be taken, in order for people to see major Indian films in the region.

“Indian movies are colourful movies and songs and everything, so we like to see it in a theatre than at home,” Somasundaram said.

In Saturday’s incident, the first suspect is described as a man approximately 18-years-old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 with a thin to medium build. The man was wearing a black hooded sweater, black pants, black shoes and a black face mask.

The second suspect is described as a male, between 18 and 22 years old, 5-foot-10 to 6 feet tall, with a thin build. The male was wearing a black hooded sweater, black pants, black shoes and a black face mask.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 519-570-9777 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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