Croydon’s only art house cinema, the David Lean Cinema has reopened after three years of campaigning, with tickets now being sold for its first film showing since April 2011.
The cinema, housed in the Croydon Clocktower arts complex, will open on March 27, with a “Croydon premiere” of ‘Basically, Johnny Moped’, a documentary about the punk rock group from Croydon, followed by a Q&A with featuring director Fred Burns, and, stars of the film, Johnny Moped and guitarist Captain Sensible.
Despite the apparent success of the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign, the group will have to pay a hiring fee and share the Auditorium with other community groups, which has limited the cinema to one screening a week.
The cinema was closed down in 2011 following budget cuts that also saw the closure of the Croydon Clocktower itself and the Croydon Summer Festival, a music event that entertained more than 50,000 people every year, and has now been able to reopen due to a revamp of the Clocktower by the council.
Chairman of the Campaign to Save David Lean Cinema, Adrian Winchester, said: “The council knew of our wish to present screenings in the David Lean and approached us last year, once a decision to fix the digital projector had been made.”
Prior to its closure, The David Lean was Croydon’s only cinema showing a programme of films that would be unlikely to appear in other local multiplexes. Sir David Lean, best known for his big screen epic ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’, was born in Croydon, and had the cinema built in his honour in the 1990s.
Winchester said: “This represents the culmination of an enormous amount of work by our committee. The David Lean isn’t fully reopened yet, but our screenings will be an important step forward and we hope to expand the programme in future.”
Winchester added: “We appreciate the council’s willingness to collaborate with us and we particularly thank staff from Interserve facility management [who provide security and safety management for the Clocktower, and who will be opening and staffing the Arts Bar for the campaigners] and community partnerships for their help and enthusiasm. Everyone clearly wants this venture to succeed.”
The Campaign to Save the David Lean Cinema gained support from Croydon resident and comedian Ronnie Corbett and Conservative life peer Julian Fellowes, who called it a “meaningless” cut.
Fellowes, in a letter to the council, said: “The continuation of your support for the cinema would be a very, very minor element in your budget, while its loss to the community, and especially pensioners, will be very great.”
Conservative Councillor Tim Pollard, Cabinet member for arts and culture at the time, explained: “It is reopening as a space the community can hire as an auditorium. It will have the ability to project films as it did before and I hope that the campaign supporters will take advantage of that.
“The idea is that it can be used for a more diverse range of events and presentations than previously.”