I started my internship at Red 7 Productions in late April 2018, one of my first assignments was to go out and make a film about any subject that I felt passionate about. During this time I was also doing work experience at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, London as part of my Masters Degree in Film Programming and Curating and had been thinking a lot about the role of cinemas in our culture past and present and decided to explore this within my home town.
Growing up in Peterborough as a lover of films, I was disappointed with the lack of cinemas in the area. When visiting other cities I would often, (and still do) drag my family/friends around just to look at art house and old cinemas still operating or to guess which bingo halls or pubs are converted former cinemas.What I was interested in learning through making the documentary was, what were cinemas like here in Peterborough during the peak and decline of British cinema attendance?
I started researching the cinemas that had existed in Peterborough’s past and found that we once had a thriving entertainment scene right in the city centre, with 5 cinemas right along Bridge Street and Broadway as well as theatres, and music halls, many of which have now been either demolished or converted. I then attended a talk on the history of Peterborough’s Entertainment Venues by Stephen Perry at Longthorpe Village Hall where I also met Audrey Shaw. I then reached out to Frank Abbott and Toby Wood for their own personal experiences as cinema audience members as well as Toby Wood’s work to highlight these cinema spaces as part of the Peterborough Civic Society.
The film shows the former locations of the forgotten cinemas of Peterborough. Most notably, The Broadway Theatre is a former Odeon cinema that still has its original projection booth complete with 70mm projectors. We as Peterborians should acknowledge and learn about our own city’s history and the finished film explores what these local cinemas meant to the people who visited them, how they shaped their lives and childhoods as well as how the city centre of Peterborough has changed with the decline of entertainment venues nationwide.
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