Picture House Revival

Last weekend the iconic Abbeydale Picture House was the centre of local attention for the Picture House Revival, a weekend of films and fun organised by group of three artists and hosted in one of only two vintage cinemas still standing in Sheffield.

The weekend was a rare opportunity for the public to enter the main auditorium, a crumbling beauty in the process of rigorous restoration, as the site has rarely been used since its closure in 1975, aside from occasional carboot sales. The cinema first opened in 1920, its first screening the silent film The Call of the Road, directed by A.E Colby and starring former boxer Victor McLaglen. Since its Christmas Eve debut back in the day, the film hasn't been played at the Picture House since - until the Revival weekend, when it was played in all its shaky and absurdly overacted glory. A unique experience, even for the most cultured cinema-goers: the sound of the 35mm film rattling and struggling in the projector, an in-house pianist playing live in the corner of the room. Perhaps not the most memorable of films for a modern audience (it's set in 1820, about a young Lord disowned by his rich uncle because of his gambling addiction, so he casually starts boxing to earn a bit of cash, the kind of fights that make you think "Aw just kiss already!", and then he marries his cousin, as you do) but the setting itself shits all over the likes of Odeon and Cineworld.

To enhance the vintage feel, there was homemade 'Alfred Hitchpop' popcorn, boutique street food vans in the car park, a waitress serving sarsaparilla, comfy lounge seating with an array of coffee table books, short archive films from the local area and Laurel and Hardy's Chumps at Oxford to end the weekend. I speak for myself and the community when I saw there simply must be more events like this, that not only provide vital entertainment and social cohesion during a dismal period of austerity, but also put this local treasure to respectable use.
(Left) The building was purposely painted white because it shows less signs of decay. It is now 95 years old and worn out, but elegantly so//(Right) popcorn and salted caramel chocolate cake. So naughty.
 (Left) Short archive films relating to Sheffield and Yorkshire//(Right) Laurel and Hardy's Brats
(Right) arty filmy coffee table books for your leisure and pleasure

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