The projector is lighting up once more at Vancouver’s defunct Hollywood Theatre, for a select-few charity screenings of the beloved holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The original owners of the 651-seat theatre were forced to sell in May 2011, and it remained empty for over a year until two local churches started using the space for Sunday services.

With the Christmas season approaching, members decided to screen Frank Capra’s seminal holiday film to help raise money for charity projects – but they quickly ran into a few speed bumps.

For starters, there are only two known, viewable prints of the film in existence, and it’s not easy to get ones hands on them.

“They don’t just let anyone take a 35-millimetre film. You have to be a certified projectionist, which I am definitely not,” church communications director Sarah Kift said.

Much like the movie’s protagonist George Bailey, the theatre was in need of a guardian angel – and lo and behold, one arrived.

Chris Unwin worked as a projectionist at the Hollywood for 13 years before it closed down, and said he was overjoyed to step in and help.

“I loved this place so much,” Unwin said. “You know, to be able to run a movie again was a dream come true for me, because I though those days were over.”

Unwin helped track down a copy of the film in Toronto and had it sent to Vancouver – for one weekend only.

The first screenings took place Friday night, and will continue all day Saturday – at noon, 2:45 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, the Lookout Shelter Society and the Point Grey Community Church’s Christmas hamper program.

Tickets are available at the door for a suggested donation of $5.

For more information, visit the Church at the Hollywood website.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger