Liverpool Small Cinema whisks moviegoers back to the golden age

Posted on 19 March 2015
By Mark Langshaw
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Cinema in Liverpool has changed dramatically in the last century, particularly since the multiplex invasion hit the ground running in the 1980s.

The city was once home to countless local picture houses, many of which were beautiful art-deco buildings that helped preserve the sense of community across various districts.

Moviegoing back then was a radically different experience to that on offer at Odeon Liverpool One, or even the arthouse elegance of FACT, but the latest cinema to spring up in the city centre promises to whisk visitors back to the golden era.

Dreamed up by independent artist collective Re-Dock, The Liverpool Small Cinema is a community screening space based within the former Magistrates Court on Victoria Street.

With the help of the BFI Film Hub North West Central and a team of volunteers, the group built a 56-seater picture house steeped in yesteryear nostalgia over the course of six arduous weeks.

This is no David with ambitions to take on the Goliaths of Odeon and Cineworld. It’s a hub where independent filmmakers can showcase their wares and a homage to the grand theatres of old.

“The independent film scene in Liverpool suddenly looks different because now there’s a venue that is putting on one or two different films that most people won’t have seen,” Sam Meech of Re-Dock told Purple Revolver. “I can feel already that it’s going to have a really positive impact.

“We will be working with people who are already interested in setting up film-related events but haven’t had a space that is accessible or affordable to host them, and the programming will reflect their diverse tastes.”

The Liverpool Small Cinema is a DIY initiative, made possible by donations – including vintage cinema seats provided by the Stockport Plaza – the efforts of volunteers, and the endless reach of social media.

“Technology is cheaper and it’s now easier to organise people through social media and you have more an appetite for DIY initiatives aimed at the community, so now is a really good time to create these cinema spaces,” Meech added.

“We wanted something that was city centre-based so the artistic community can get behind it. It’s a nice size and should be easy to manage. It’s about creating something that is in relation to community.”

The cinema will play host to indie films, many of which will be Liverpool-centric, its programme devised in collaboration with local filmmakers and writers, including Liverpool Radical Film Fest, the Food For Real Film Fest, Elsewhere Cinema, Think Cinema, and Celluloid Wickerman

Re-Dock are running the venue themselves, handling every aspect of its operation, from front-of-house duties to activating the digital projectors, and there will be further opportunities for volunteers.

“We’ve been contacted by volunteers but our team will be very hands on when it comes to running the building. The impetus is one everyone to learn every role, from front of house to actually putting on the films, and pass on that knowledge to a pool of volunteers,” Meech said.

Re-Dock hopes Small Cinema will boost the local film scene, conjure nostalgia among its older visitors and recapture some the community spirt that no longer burns as brightly as it once did.

“Everyone can relate to the nostalgia of cinema. We all have a story to share and part of this project is collecting those stories,” Meech added. “Cinema is a place everyone can relate to. They have very personal memories as well as community experiences, relating to architecture, social movements and who they were in love with.”

The Liverpool Small Cinema will open its doors for the first time at 6pm this evening (19th March), screening a documentary about its construction and previewing some of its upcoming features.

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