et up as a not-for-profit social enterprise, we are a group of volunteers organising film screenings at various venues. Our goal is always to provide an inspirational, unifying and culturally enriching experience for a wide range of cinema-going members of the local and wider communities – of all ages – in and around Prestwich and North Manchester.
Films on our programme range from the mainstream to those titles holding a greater appeal for viewers with alternative interests; e.g., British, archive, independent, documentary and foreign language choices. We also champion and showcase the work of local filmmaking talent, screening, where possible, locally produced short films and videos before the main features.
In the long term, we hope to become an established and cherished part of the local social and arts scenes. Both independently and, at times, in partnership with other community and arts groups, we aim to bring a wealth of family-oriented film events, mini-festivals, young people’s screenings, and themed, ‘immersive’ extravaganzas to the area.
Where it all began
Since our very first group meeting in August 2016, we’ve covered a fair bit of ground.
Huddled over a beer in The Ostrich pub with sketchy agenda and some half-baked ideas, our drive to come up with a plan was surely helped along by table snacks and the whiff of a chance to stick some jaw-dropping movies onto a whopping screen.
We were on to something for sure, because we all knew people who miss having a local cinema, and the real buzz came when we secured our first venue: The Studio on Bailey Street – now sadly closed and up for sale.
There, our initial test screening of Raising Arizona was not without incident, with the reel grinding to a halt when the laptop battery drained. The plug had been knocked out of its socket, of course (schoolboy error!)
That first event was funded by Cinema For All, who have helped us along the way ever since. The community cinema-oriented arm of BFI, they support us financially, through their invaluable advice, and as our main film distributor.
In September 2017, we moved our home to the superb Carlton Club, where we continue to show our core programme. What’s more, we have been astounded to learn that the Club is the last cinema-linked building still standing in Prestwich. There were a handful in the past, but even those original buildings have been razed and replaced with supermarkets or apartments. Up in the rafters of the Club’s main room – where we screen – evidence of the erstwhile projectionist’s booth has been discovered.
Always looking to grow, we have gone on to stage some sensational events.
Nothing we have achieved up to now would have been possible without our amazing audiences, though, many of whom have stuck with us throughout, ceaselessly offering advice & encouragement, spreading the word and, of course, showing up time after time.