Community cinema appeals for public support after two arthouse rivals open

Kate Grandwood at Screen 25 Pic: Claudia Glover

A small, independent Croydon cinema has been forced to make an appeal to the local community for support in the wake of two huge arthouse cinemas opening nearby within one week of each other. 

The not-for profit Screen25 in South Norwood has capacity for only 125 people. It has been dwarfed by arthouse competitors Crystal Palace Everyman and West Norwood Picturehouse ,with capacities of 313 and 558 people respectively. Both opened this month.

Situated behind Harris Academy Secondary School in Norwood Junction, Screen25  has been providing affordable screenings for locals since 2015. Its founder, Katie Grandwood, 31, a horticultural student, started with monthly screenings in different venues and worked her way up to turn Screen25 into a regular fixture for local cinemagoers.

Screen 25 Independent Cinema Pic: Claudia Glover

Over the last three years the Screen25 team has grown to 30 volunteers, who help run the twice-weekly screenings, and four core paid members of staff. The cinema was set up to build on the film community in the area, which was much smaller three years ago.

Providing affordable cinema is a vocation for the staff at Screen25. Their programming provides “films that people would not get the chance to see due to access, distance or price” according to Catriona Mahmoud, their marketing manager.

The cinema has made engaging the Croydon community a main priority.  Mahmoud told Eastlondonlines: “We try to reflect our community within our programming to give people something they want to see, which is something that other cinemas won’t necessarily do. We know there’s a large Jamaican population [in Croydon] so we do films like The Harder They Come, and we are hopefully doing a series of films with black voices.” 

Their appeal for support was picked up by members of the community, with encouragement flooding in on social media and offline. “Our business actually got a lot better after we put out that appeal on Facebook” said Mahmoud. “We would really like to keep that momentum, which is why we have initiatives like the membership scheme.” 

Local businesses have also stepped up. Matthew Grossett, the owner of local café Walnuts and Honey, gives a discount to anyone who has a Screen25 membership. “It’s a very nice addition to the area” he said. “Quite frankly, I think it’s one that should be used more often.” 

The area is well served for independent cinema, with the independent arthouse David Lean Cinema based in Croydon town centre.


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