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Electric Palace cinema - What our supporters say

We asked our regulars, volunteers and friends of the Electric Palace cinema in Hastings, East Sussex, UK to share their special memories of the cinema.

Here are just a few of the highlights from over the years – nearly two decades!

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Electric Palace cinema - What our supporters say

  1. 1. Electric Palace – what our supporters say We asked our regulars, volunteers and friends of the Electric Palace to share their special memories of the cinema. Here are just a few of the highlights from over the years – nearly two decades!
  2. 2. Iain Sinclair – Filmmaker, writer and audience member “The Electric Palace, along with certain pubs, book caves, huts and gaudy hutches, defined a sense of what Hastings could offer. As being electively bohemian, out at the elbow, scavenging and scrapping for cultural traces, in a spirit of communality and excited chatter over the latest Andrew Kötting image collision. We have enjoyed screenings and performances, brokered by Rebecca Marshall or Nick Johnson. Occasionally, I have moved from lolling in a chair to standing out-front. I remember particularly a poetry reading with Pete Brown, who I admired but never met back in the day. Long may this enterprise survive.”
  3. 3. Gwyneth Wint – director of Afrikaba Film Festival “The Electric Palace has been an invaluable partner and cinema base for Afrikaba Film Screenings, which showcase black film from the UK and around the world. The Electric Palace is an old school cinema with modern ideas and family values.”
  4. 4. Annie Waite – Electric Palace Marketing Manager “There have been so many highlights – in particular some of the hilarious chalkboards - but top of the list was persuading the delightful musician and acclaimed US author Willy Vlautin to join us for a Q&A alongside a screening of the film adaptation of his first novel, The Motel Life. He was characteristically charming and it really was such an honour. Similarly, securing alt country/Americana legends Peter Bruntnell, Danny Champ and Neil Halstead for a gig was an absolute hoot. Oh yes, and comedian Phil Kay literally climbing up the cinema walls! I look forward to creating more opportunities to bring great musicians and comedians with film connections to the cinema in the future to gather even more great memories.”
  5. 5. Peter Swaab - Poet “I came across the Electric Palace Cinema by chance on a visit to Hastings one summer weekend. I was immediately excited by the flair and seriousness of the programme detailed in the leaflets outside. The scale of the cinema was promising and romantic too. The flourishing of such a small independent venue implied a good deal of behind-the- scenes energy, commitment and knowledge. I made a note of the screening times and arrived full of curiosity and expectation. Since then I’ve nearly always attended screenings at the EPC on south coast visits, looking forward to the retro seats, the bar before and after the film, the excellent choice of films and the pre-screening feeling of excitement in the (usually) packed venue. One highlight for me was Abel Gance’s 1919 J’accuse. It was wonderful to see such a film on a large screen and with the concentration that comes of sharing it with a live audience. Not many places would have the nerve to screen a rarity of this kind by one of cinema’s great pioneers. I like to think of future filmmakers being inspired by this kind of event. The EPC keeps the best traditions of film alive, and who knows what afterlife its programmes might lead to?”
  6. 6. Geraldine Franklin - Volunteer “Lovely interior, deep red, with lovely lighting and a great intimate space to relax in with like minded people. Lovely to connect with customers who love good film.”
  7. 7. Glenys Jacques – volunteer for 18 years “An important aspect for me is reflecting the culture of the community by putting on events that reflect everyone. I like putting on one woman shows, supporting creative women film makers and writers, and collaborating on all kinds of women’s projects that are unique. The community is proactive in suggesting great ideas for us, and know we are always prepared to work together.”
  8. 8. David Hazleton – regular visitor to screenings “I remember attending the Sunday afternoon screenings when the cinema first began and enjoyed the friendly, intimate atmosphere with classic films such as A Taste of Honey or Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, but was perplexed one afternoon to find a 'SOLD OUT' sign outside and wondered what was so special about Jacques Tati and Mr. Hulot’s Holiday - luckily I managed to catch the evening performance and so began my real love affair with cinema and the Electric Palace. Being in a packed cinema with the whole audience laughing along was so beautiful and things just got better with stylish, funny, sad, astonishing films following one after the other. Over the years I have laughed and cried and just wanted to say Thank you Electric Palace for such treasured memories.”
  9. 9. Kim Clarke – Bar and cinema supervisor “I absolutely loved being part of Mel Byron’s show at the cinema last year - Old Movies Saved My Life. She is such a lovely lady, and a great performer. I was inspired and have become addicted to old movies now. This week I've watched Key Largo, The Thin Man and Wings which was the first film to win Best Picture at the 1st Academy Awards in 1929. Highly recommend all of them.”
  10. 10. Chris Pierre - Volunteer “My favourite thing about the Electric Palace is whether one is volunteering, partying or watching a film it feels ‘clubby’ (that of having had a shared experience) not a feeling you get leaving the Odeon! There is a sense of 'belonging' ... old and new faces often stop to chat before and/or after the film and you get "thankyous" as people leave if you’ve been volunteering ... and it's SO IMPORTANT that such a place exists in the old town! Viva I’Electric.”
  11. 11. Paul Sargent, volunteer and former film archivist for the Imperial War Museum “In 2012, having just retired (from a background as a film archivist) and hoping to continue my interest in film, I volunteered. At that point I didn’t quite realise how different the exhibition side of film was and neither did I think that eight years later I’d still be involved. I helped on the door for the screening of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. To say the rest is history is understating the work that has been put in. We have certainly gone from strength to strength over the years, sharing the workload with many helpful and interested others (notably Jessica for about six years, Chris, poor Jo, Susan and latterly Liz and many others – not forgetting Rachel and Alan!). We have many regulars for the Thursday morning Silver Screenings. Although our demographic is towards the older age group, there is an enthusiasm for many different genres and to ‘pigeon hole’ the audience is to do them a disservice. The past few months have seen the popularity of Thursday mornings increase, with many sell-outs (great programming!), although handing out 48 free teas and coffees can be a bit demanding, especially when people then ask where’s their biscuit (I tell them to try the Odeon – but we have better films!). Let’s hope we can resume soon.”
  12. 12. Olivia Cavanagh - volunteer “I really enjoyed Parent and Baby screenings. It was perfect timing for me, from just after Erin was born until she was about 18 months. It was great to feed the babies and they'd sleep and you could enjoy a film - something that wasn't possible for many years afterwards! Electric Palace has also always been very supportive of Hastings Supports Refugees, donating profits from ticket sales from showings of the documentaries Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars and Human Flow to the project.”
  13. 13. Ken Edwards – friend of the cinema “When my partner and I were contemplating moving to Hastings Old Town back in 2004, one of the clinchers was the existence of a tiny art-house cinema only minutes’ walk away. What a privilege! And over the nearly 15 years we lived there we found the Electric Palace indispensable. An ever-changing daily programme of interesting, sometimes obscure and sometimes awesome films, a cosy atmosphere, with enthusiastic staff and volunteers running the place. And you could have a glass of wine or a beer while you watched the film. In the early days the rickety seats were part of the ambience too, but it was definitely a bonus when the cinema was refurbished, the sound became better and it was altogether more comfortable. I will never forget the time when the projectionist couldn’t find how to turn on the subtitles on a Spanish film, and appealed to the audience for help. People tried to give assistance, with no luck. It was then announced that the film would run without subtitles and those who wished could have their money back. I don’t think anybody claimed this. It also became clear that a really good film could be followed without necessarily understanding the language. We moved out of the Old Town recently, so don’t come so often, but we think this is a huge community resource that deserves all the support it can get.”
  14. 14. Nicholas Johnson – Poet, Black Huts director and volunteer “I first visited the Electric Palace from Devon in May 2008. I recall watching eight short films which was my introduction to Roland Jarvis painter and filmmaker, and the beginning of a friendship. I also was knocked out by Richard Heslop’s debut film. The spirit of the old town - always welcoming, hedonistic and interested in the world outside - is often conveyed by the cinema, it's audience and the enriching programming which also shows how many community groups, film programmers and artists contribute to the ebb and flow of the old room's spirit.”
  15. 15. Glenn Veness – local resident and filmmaker “For many years I was filming the Old Town and making short films about our wonderful community. They never got much recognition, but were done solely to keep a history of Hastings and its eclectic inhabitants and local fisherman. I loved the Electric Palace when it first opened its doors in 2002, because they showed such wonderful diverse films, many foreign. This appealed to me as I'm not a fan of American 'blockbusters', many of which do very little to stretch the imagination. At last we were able to see thought-provoking movies being shot by independent film makers, some of them residing locally. One day Rebecca Marshall approached me and asked if I would let them show some of my work! I was astonished as I never felt my films would be seen on the 'Big Screen'. I felt 10ft tall when they showed them for the first time to a packed audience during Old Town Week. After that it became a regular event once a year, and we would do 3 consecutive half an hour screenings in one evening, all sold out! The queue to get in used to go up passed Roebuck House. I would like to thank the team at the cinema for bringing so much to the community and appreciate their commitment in showing not only films, but varied forms of live entertainment. I feel it is crucial, as while we can't change the world, we CAN change our communities. For me this is far more important. And if you’re thinking of making a visit, I now do a Friday Night Is Music Night with Mike Willis, a Country singer from Nashville. These evenings are always sold out too! The Electric Palace has made my world, and the thousands of people who use the cinema each year, a far richer place to live in.”
  16. 16. Liz Bourn - volunteer “I love volunteering at the cinema - my regular Thursday morning slot certainly enriches my week! There is almost a ‘club’ atmosphere with regulars, some of which take it quite personally if we’re sold out and there are no tickets left. Still it makes for a bit of excitement! I am so looking forward to the cinema reopening as I’m sure, are plenty of others who, to put it simply, just love cinema. Our clientele seem to enjoy our varied programmes although, of course, not every film pleases every customer! I think, if I have to pick a film which sticks in my mind, it would be Son of Saul. I went as a customer with 'uncle’ Simon and we both found it a traumatic watch. For me it was the background sounds which haunt me to this day. Everyone keep indie-cinemas alive.”
  17. 17. Cath Tajima-Powell – staff member “Its a curious thing being the projectionist sitting at the back of the cinema. Once you have started the film and checked the sound levels are just so, then it’s time to watch the audience as well as the film! The experience of some films is so intense that the emotion is palpable from the rows of silhouetted heads and tense stances. You know instinctively not to break that tension at the end of the film but keep the lights down as long as possible to allow the audience to scramble their way back to the real world. Watching a good film at the pint-sized Electric Palace is always a collective experience. And we are more than happy to leave you sitting in stunned silence for as long as it takes or have a post- mortem chinwag before you exit.”
  18. 18. John Knowles – volunteer and B-Movie Fan Club co-programmer “One of the special features of the B-Movie night is our ever forgiving audience, who basically have plot lines and tricks exposed by Robin in his opening speech and who put up with technical breakdowns like the time when the film we were showing reverted to Italian with no subtitles, despite many failed attempts we could only watch half the film in Italian... Which everyone voted to do rather than miss the nail-biting climax lol.”
  19. 19. Leslie Jarvis – volunteer “Two things that have had a particular resonance with being part of the cinema have to do with very different age groups. The first I witnessed on one of the Tuesday mornings when I used to come and help cinema manager Alan. A group of autistic teenagers arrived with a group leader to see the cinema and talk about what goes on there. Alan directed a Q&A session. Everyone was so engaged and I thought this is SO fantastic that the Electric Palace is being used to engage young, differently abled kids. Secondly, on a Thursday morning I saw a mass of excited (again, very engaged) group of senior citizens all buzzing with excitement to come in, get their teas, to chat with each other in their seats, watch the film and to chat afterwards. I spoke with a number of them on their way out and they said that they always come and now knew people from these Thursdays. What an amazing result on so many levels! Community involvement, engaging some of the older members of our society, giving people something to look forward to during their weeks - ultimately improving the quality of their lives. Well done E.P. for providing a place for these things to happen!”
  20. 20. Timothy Neat – Filmmaker, writer and photographer “My memory is of it is less as a cinema and more as a venue for poets and singers - some using a level of projection to advance the tenor of songs and poems. Indeed some presentations were made by the confusion caused by chaos caused when sound, light and heat are produced. Energy is nothing more than that. Thus there is a real sense in which the Electric Palace takes things and people back to the origins of time - to the Big Bang when the universe was set in motion by uncontrolled energy obeying absolute laws (some of which mankind much later was to get written down into text books). So thank you to Rebecca for getting us back to brass-tack. She like Hercules has carried the world (in Hastings) on her back and she deserves a clap - sustained for some time - for who knows what will happen in time. Anyone who gives a poet his first outing in seventy years deserves not just a clap but a cheer and the continuance of the Cinema she continues to redeem. Hold Steady. March at Ease Lads, March Easy - Rebecca is here!
  21. 21. David Hazleton – regular visitor to screenings “Regarding the community aspect of the Electric Palace I recently heard someone say (as they politely refused an invitation to sit with friends) that they had come to the cinema to escape people and to see a film. It got me thinking to how we all come to escape and I myself appreciate the opportunity to unwind and feel the stress leave me as I enjoy what is on offer; like relishing an old friend or learning or discovering something new. The community of the cinema is the whole wide world and we are all here - the eccentric, beautiful, gentle, generous, friendly, funny, sometimes late or sometimes people you sit behind with masses of hair, or the tallest in town… I just think the mix is splendid and whether it is Nuts in May (we will probably all be nuts by then), It’s A Wonderful Life or whatever else captures your imagination, the Electric Palace is the perfect community cinema and is at the heart of our community and long may it continue. I am happy to be a part of it.”