Southwold’s Electric Picture Palace gets ready for Ealing film festival

A GOLDEN era of British film-making will be celebrated in Southwold this summer.

The town's cinema, the Electric Picture Palace, is staging its first film festival – showcasing 16 movies from Ealing Studios which was renowned for its classic dramas and comedies from the early 1930s through to the late 1950s.

The three-day festival will run from Friday, July 20 to Sunday, July 22, with daytime and evening performances of celebrated black and white films including The Lavender Hill Mob, Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore, The Night My Number Came Up and The Ladykillers.

John Bennett, house director and chairman of the Southwold Film Society, said: 'The Ealing films have always been popular since we started 10 years ago, so there was already a natural audience. But with the centenary celebration coming up we wanted to put on something special.'

The festival will come just two months after the cinema marks its 10th anniversary on May 18 – and 100 years after a cinema first opened in the town.

Mr Bennett added: 'What has been very interesting is that we ended up looking at a lot of films I had never seen before. There are some which are very good, and very English, like Painted Boats, which shows what things were like in the country before the war.

'But my own favourites would have to be The Ladykillers and The Titfield Thunderbolt.'

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At present, the 68-seat cinema on Blackmill Road – officially opened by Monty Python star Michael Palin – is undergoing an �80,000 expansion. The work will see a neighbouring garage converted into a two-storey extension comprising a new-look foyer, toilets, an office, a film archive and private screening room.

It will also create two extra seats for moviegoers.

Mr Bennett said: 'We are working hard on the extension of the cinema, which will certainly be finished by the start of the film festival.'

The town got its first taste for the silver screen in 1912 when the Electric Picture Palace opened on York Road.

Mr Bennett later revived the name when he opened the current cinema in 2002, converting an old stables and a cart shed.

The Edwardian-style venue now screens about 100 films a year over four seasons. It also prides itself on preserving the traditions of British cinema by having an organ player performing during the interval.

The venue is run by the Southwold Film society – a charitable organisation celebrating the traditions of British cinema and classic films.

? For more information about the film festival, or to buy tickets, call the Electric Picture Palace box office on 07815 769565.

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