Around 1984-1985, The Regal Cinema on The Broadway, St. Ives closed its doors for the last time. Since then there have been no regular public film screenings in the town. Until now.
A quarter of a century later, in 2010, the newly re-opened St Ives Corn Exchange planned to broaden the range of facilities it offered to include projection equipment, and with it the ability to screen films. A new ACE (Action Corn Exchange) sub-committee was formed and met for the first time in February 2011, and then on 8 April the first public screening of the new community cinema was held: Cinema Paradiso (1988). What more appropriate film than one which celebrates the contribution that cinema can make to the life of a community?
All of us on the Screen St Ives committee (more about us later) want to bring cinema back in to the heart of the town. And not just any cinema, but great cinema: films that inspire, challenge and reward. Whether they are old or new, British or international, Hollywood or independent, they should be fine examples of what films can achieve. And if we succeed in awakening interest in the enormous scale and diversity that cinema as an art form has to offer, then so much the better. We’ve already had some heated debates about which movies should be shown, and I’m sure we will continue to do so. After all, everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to picking a great film. That’s the beauty of cinema.
We also want to support local filmmakers, which is why a short film made by people living nearby or with a local connection is shown before every screening (and at no extra charge!). We’re especially keen to promote young talent, and the films we’ve seen so far made by students at St. Ivo School have impressed us all.
Since Cinema Paradiso we’ve screened The Chorus (2004) in May and then just last week An American Werewolf in London (1981). All three have gone well, either coming close to or completely selling out. So we know there is plenty of interest out there. At the moment we are limited to a maximum of 50 seats per show, but the plan is to install permanent projection equipment in the main hall to allow an even larger audience to enjoy watching films on an even bigger screen. But first we have to raise the money to do this.
So please come along, enjoy a film, spread the word, and help us make our community cinema something that all of St Ives can enjoy. And if you’ve got suggestions for a film you would like to see screened, we’d love to hear from you.