Save Suffolk Cinema: 9 films you can watch safely in local theatres
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Independent cinemas say now’s the time to use them or lose them, with an excellent programme of releases coming up this autumn.
Following the news that theatre chain Cineworld is to close all 127 of its UK venues this week, it’s no surprise a number of independent cinemas are hoping to pick up some of that footfall – and there are some screen gems waiting to be discovered in Suffolk. Three local film theatres are eager to show off the new safety changes they’ve made – with the hopes they can encourage people to visit before they too suffer a similar fate to the national chain.
Abbeygate Cinema, Bury St Edmunds
For anyone looking to watch some time-honoured classics over the coming weeks, the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds is the place to be. The cinema – which now has three screens following the installation of its premier screen this July – is showing a number of films including documentaries and remastered favourites.
“Bond was a big loss, but this is where being an independent is on our side a little bit, as we’re able to show some BFI London Film Festivals films,” explained Abbeygate Cinema’s marketing manager Andrea Holmes. “As we’re running through a new six-weekly programme, we’ve made the commitment financially and film-wise for the next six weeks
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“We’ve also got some 4K specials on - such as Rocky and The Shining showing for Halloween - and themed events like Classic Sundays and 80s Rewind on Friday evenings. We’ll also be showing a number of documentaries, highlighting the issues we’re facing in today’s world, such as I Am Greta.”
A number of Covid-safe initiatives have been implemented at Abbeygate Cinema, ensuring the safety of both staff and customers. These include a concierge who greets people upon arrival to make sure customers check in either via Track and Trace or provide their contact details, one-way systems throughout the cinema and a pre-ordering system for anyone who wishes to purchase refreshments before the film. Once inside, attendees will notice how spread out seats are, as once a booking is made, two seats either side of the booked seats, along with the whole row both behind and in front of the customers are left clear for social distancing purposes.
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The Shining in 4K – Saturday October 31, 7pm. Rated: 15
For anyone’s looking to get extra spooky this Halloween, Abbeygate Cinema is showing Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic The Shining. Set in the chilling Overlook Hotel, writer Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) seeks solace in the empty hotel over winter so he can focus on his writing. But once madness starts to set in, it’s a fight for survival for mother-and-son duo Wendy and Danny. Re-released in stunning 4K, this classic is not one to be missed this spooky season.
Shirley – Friday October 9, 7.30pm. Rated: 15
As part of the BFI London Film Festival, Shirley stars Elisabeth Moss as American writer Shirley Jackson in this biographical drama which explores the cruel forces that can feed creativity. Following its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Shirley was met with rave reviews and praise for Moss’ performance, and features Martin Scorsese as an executive producer for the film.
Stevie Nicks 24 Karat Gold – Wednesday October 21, 7pm; Sunday October 25, 3pm. Rated: TBC
Music fans rejoice, as one of rock’s most enigmatic voices Stevie Nicks, takes to the big screen this October. Recorded over two nights, her 24 Karat Gold concert will be shown across two dates this month, and features a setlist of fan favourites mixed with rare gems from her multi-platinum selling back catalogue. While live music has been a no-go this year, Stevie Nicks can help you get that much-loved concert experience over the coming weeks.
Leiston Film Theatre, Leiston
Following the reopening of cinemas back in July, Leiston Film Theatre’s general manager Wayne Burns has noticed that those who have already attended his cinema feel very safe – and he hopes that others around Suffolk will soon start to follow their lead.
“I think the overall opinion of what people have said, when you look on TripAdvisor, is they feel entirely safe coming to us - and numbers are slowly increasing.
“But because of the current situation that’s facing cinemas, whether we will be able to sustain business and keep going, or if we will have to look at streamlining operations anymore, we do not know. It’s simply a case of now crunching the numbers to see if we can make them stack up in our favour.”
Some of the Covid-safe measures that Leiston Film Theatre has put in place include utilising two entrances to ease congestion, two-metre social distancing markings both outside and throughout the venue, and films will now start 30 minutes prior to any advanced screening. This is to provide enough time for customers to arrive and get comfortable before the film starts. Attendees at Leiston are also asked to buy their refreshments at the time of purchasing or collecting tickets, all while keeping a safe distance. With a drastically reduced seating capacity due to social distancing measure, Wayne added: “In the first three months before we closed in March, we welcomed 1,323 people through our doors - and in the first three weeks of our return in July, we saw just 431 film fans.”
Life of Lowestoft - Sunday October 11, 4.30pm; Wednesday October 14, 3pm. Rated: U
This landmark documentary celebrates Britain’s most easterly town, Suffolk’s very own Lowestoft. Highlighting some of the settlement’s most important historical moments right through to present day, commemorate the vast and fascinating backstory of this East Anglian town.
23 Walks – Friday October 23; Saturday October 24; Sunday October 25; Tuesday October 27, 7:15pm. Wednesday October 28, 3pm. Rated: 12A
Directed by Paul Morrison, this romantic story follows David and Fern, two older strangers who happen to meet while walking their dogs. Starring Dave Johns and Alison Stedman, the two begin a series of walks, giving way for a blossoming romance – but not all is at it seems.
The Roads Not Taken - Friday October 16; Sunday October 18; Tuesday October 20; Wednesday October 21 – all 7:15pm. Rated: 15
Starring Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Selma Hayak, Laura Linney and Branka Katic, this Sally Potter film follows a day in the life of Leo (Bardem), who has dementia, and his daughter Molly (Fanning) who cares for him. As they negotiate the streets of present-day New York, Leo’s mind drifts back to his past, including a tragedy in his marriage.
Aldeburgh Cinema, Aldeburgh
Over in Aldeburgh, its independent cinema – which will be celebrating its 101st anniversary this year – is working hard to ensure it continues to provide a range of films for its local community, and has introduced a number of safety measures. These include a one-way system through the cinema, fire exits open at the end of the film so customers can leave directly out of the auditorium and increased cleaning schedules across its venue.
The cinema has also reduced its seating capacity, going from 253 seats available to now just 80. General manager Michele Kench added: “This gives a minimum 1.8m distanced space all the way around the allocated seats, and we have had a number of customers and supporters comment on how safe they feel.
“We have also improved the ventilation in the auditorium, by recommissioning a fan that has been hidden in the fabric of the building, and using the extractor fan for every showing.”
Three Tenors: Voices For Eternity – Wednesday October 14, 3pm. Rated: TBC
With never-before-seen backstage footage, Three Tenors: Voices For Eternity provides a fascinating insight into the rivalries of Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras and Plácido Domingo, who all made their historic debut as The Three Tenors over 30 years ago. Featuring brand-new interviews, this documentary is a must-see for any opera fan.
Monsoon - Thursday October 15, 7.30pm. Rated: 12A
Rich and poignant, Monsoon is an emotional and moving experience that stars Henry Golding, best known for his roles in Crazy Rich Asians and The Gentleman. As Kit (played by Golding) returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time since his family fled the country following the Vietnam War, he struggles to make sense of himself in his former home before embarking upon a personal journey that involves friendship, love and happiness.
Ammonite – Saturday October 17, 7:30pm. Rated: TBC
Directed by BAFTA nominee Francis Lee, this BFI London Film Festival movie stars Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan. Set in 1800s England, Mary Anning (Winslet) is a fossil hunter who forms an unlikely bond with wealthy visitor Charlotte (Ronan). Initially clashing, the two women eventually determine the true nature of their relationship, despite the differences in their social classes and personalities.