Ah, the power of cinema.
Besides giving a suicidal man the will to live (which is pretty impressive in itself), cinema has the power to unite a community, as I witnessed yesterday when I attended a public meeting in Crystal Palace in support of the Cinema for Crystal Palace Campaign.
Within the spacious banqueting hall of the town’s Queens Hotel, hundreds of local residents (quite possibly as many as 1,000) assembled yesterday afternoon to share their hopes and dreams for a movie house.
This unforgettable event, with its amazing turn-out for a Sunday afternoon, featured not only a series of inspiring pro-cinema speeches from the campaigners, but also supportive words from councillors, local politicians, church leaders and the Director of Programming at Picturehouse Cinemas. We also saw the world premiere of an incredibly moving short film about the cinema campaign, made by and starring local residents. There were very few dry eyes in the house.
Looking around the huge hall at the diverse cross-section of attendees, I was struck by the way our shared desire for an all-inclusive local movie house had brought us all together. The sense of solidarity was immense, and many people were even wearing Cinema for Crystal Palace t-shirts, as modelled here by the lovely Kat, one of the event organisers…
and here by film director Spike Jonze…
and here by a mannequin.
Hmm, she’s not Kim Cattrall is she?
I’ve yet to buy my t-shirt. I’m holding out for a khaki, long-sleeved number. Who else has been seen sporting this stylish wardrobe essential? Click here to find out.
When the public meeting came to an end, we all spilled out into the local pubs and bars. My group of friends and neighbours went to the nearby Alma pub where we shared our picturehouse passions with fellow townsfolk over wine and complimentary bar snacks while DJ Cliff treated us to the sounds of Deliverance, Shaft and Goldfinger during his movie music set.
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such a strong community spirit as I did yesterday, and I’m especially touched by the way this campaign has seen people pooling their skills in so many ways, with everyone doing what they can. At the meeting, such care and thought had gone into the detail, from the plates of popcorn to the vintage cinema adverts on screen. Local businesses have donated prizes galore for a raffle, and a huge number of residents have spent their weekends and evenings delivering leaflets and gathering petition signatures. Even those simply displaying Cinema for Crystal Palace cards in their windows are doing their bit.
What do you think? Surely such community synergy deserves a cinema?
For more about the Cinema for Crystal Palace campaign, check out the campaign website here.