Over 2 days we held 12 screenings of short films for the people of Widnes from a small shop on Albert road. Our 28 seater cinema showed a variety of cartons for children, archive films, new commissions and local documentaries, as well as more obscure selections related to Easter.
We had prepared well and had great publicity, but with 5 minutes to go before the first screening – a children’s Matinée – there still wasn’t anyone in sight. Then with a minute to go, as if from no where, children and parents appeared, eager to enjoy the Small Cinema experience. Being so small, it didn’t take many for it to feel quite full up.
Things progressed from there really with good attendances for each show, remarkably even in the late afternoon (which is a bit like ‘high noon’ in Widnes’). Some shows were totally sold out with audiences really enjoying the local interest films. It was a great feeling.
We had some great feedback from people who came to the shows – some of whom turned out to be former cinema staff from Widnes’s cinemas of yesteryear. People enjoyed the films and the space, but as well you could tell people enjoyed the experience of watching film together and the idea that we could have a small picture house in Widnes.
As staff, we found it hard work but incredibly exciting and rewarding. It was quite hard to come back down to earth after the event and get back to ‘normal’ life. We had found our roles within our small team and worked well together, and got to know each other well.
Many people asked if we would be doing it again next week, and you could sense the value in providing something as simple as a film screening in a town which has no cinema. It was great at least that we could do it for one weekend, but already the question of ‘what next?’ is both exciting and not entirely ridiculous.
Thankyou to all those who came and enjoyed the films, who supported the cinema and of course the local staff – Karl, Steve and Mena, who made it such a special event.