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Voluntary cinema pleased to see audience return after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 08:56 24 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:23 25 September 2020

The Maltings have removed the traditional raked seating you would expect to see in the cinema and replaced them with chairs donated by the Holkham Estate. Picture: Rebecca Lynn

The Maltings have removed the traditional raked seating you would expect to see in the cinema and replaced them with chairs donated by the Holkham Estate. Picture: Rebecca Lynn

Archant

A voluntary cinema group are delighted to have their audience back and hopes a major part of the cinema experience returns shortly.

Screen-next-the-Sea Committee. Picture by Linda GowerScreen-next-the-Sea Committee. Picture by Linda Gower

Screen-next-the-Sea is a voluntary community cinema that shows films fortnightly on Monday evenings at the Wells Maltings art centre.

Set up 12-years ago, the group screens arthouse and indie films as well as special events including an eight-hour showing of Napoléon from 1927.

Like the rest of the country, the committee went into lockdown in March, using Zoom meetings to catch up with one another.

Having reopened in September following the lockdown, committee member Linda Kerrigan was pleased to get their audience back, but feels people are losing a major part of the cinema experience after reopening.“What’s missing is the chance to have a chat about the film”, she said.

Screen-next-the-Sea have removed the traditional raked seating you would expect to see in the cinema and replaced them with chairs donated by the Holkham Estate. Picture: Rebecca LynnScreen-next-the-Sea have removed the traditional raked seating you would expect to see in the cinema and replaced them with chairs donated by the Holkham Estate. Picture: Rebecca Lynn

“We are really feeling that during our events. We know our audience and they know us. It is like meeting an old friend.

“Our audience have come back and have supported us, and we miss the opportunity to discuss the film afterwards.

“With people wearing masks no one is really talking after the film.”

The cinema which welcomed back their audience with two sold out showings of oscar winner Parasite has introduced a range of safety measures for their viewers.

David and Joolz Saunders, initiators of Screen-next-the-Sea. Picture by Linda GowerDavid and Joolz Saunders, initiators of Screen-next-the-Sea. Picture by Linda Gower

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All filmgoers have to buy their tickets before the performance online or over the phone.

While also being advised to wear masks throughout the screening.

They have also removed the traditional raked seating you would expect to see in the cinema and replaced them with chairs donated by the Holkham Estate.

The Maltings have said they will return to raked seating in October, after they created a seating plan to keep people distanced.

We’ve created a seating plan to keep people distanced and will call seats in a specific order when people enter and leave the auditorium.

All the seats have been arranged in bubble groups of up to four and placed to allow social distancing and a good view of the screen. As well as a one-way system.

The committee is still planning its autumn program but will have to do it without founding members David and Joolz Saunders who are retiring on October 10.

“It’s going to be sad to lose them, we will need more volunteers”, Ms Kerrigan said.

“We are not going to recruit right away because of the uncertainty around the future of film.

“We are just taking baby steps, with the fortnightly film and we will see how we get on with that.

“Hopefully we get our film festival next spring, but that is under review, as is everything else.”


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