Film buffs are living in a golden age
Saturday 8th December 2012, 10:00AM GMT.
ALDERNEY Cinema is celebrating its 30th birthday this month thanks to its army of volunteers and supporters.
Until the 1960s, islanders went to the Lyceum in High Street to watch films. When this was knocked down to make way for a house, a night out at the cinema became a more makeshift affair. Islanders gathered to watch films shown on a projector at the Island Hall, the Sea View, the Chez Andre and the Belle Vue.
Guernsey-based Malcolm Reynard recalls the moment when plans for an ambitious new project to create a cinema and arts centre were first floated. The idea first cropped up at a meeting in Guernsey about setting up a Bailiwick arts council.
Alderney resident Martine Kay-Mouat had flown over for the meeting and Mr Reynard remembers her mentioning that her family had just loaned a building to Bob Mantel to be used as a cinema.
The Kay-Mouat family owned a building on Victoria Street that had formerly been leased to Alderney Stores and Bunkering Co. Ltd.
‘What had just been an idea by Bob to have a hall to show films – nothing really more than some loose-laid seats on the floor, a projector and a screen – [became a vision of] a proper miniature auditorium, able to present not only films but a small theatre and art gallery from time to time,’ recalled Mr Reynard.
He offered his help and roped in a couple of friends, Joan Ozanne and Malcolm Beeson, to fundraise and source cinema fixtures and fittings.
As luck would have it, St Peter Port’s Odeon Cinema had just closed its doors and been sold to the States of Guernsey for £300,000.
Mr Reynard remembered: ‘Joan immediately started negotiations with the States to obtain equipment from it and managed to get permission to remove whatever we needed.
‘We removed some 120 of the theatre seats, stage curtains and a large quantity of the carpeting – all almost new, as the cinema had had a major refurbishment about two years before it closed.
‘It was transported north by Alderney Shipping Company and the island’s cinema was designed and created.
‘Jacky Main contributed much of his time, doing the building work alongside Malcolm Beeson and myself.’
The cinema opened its doors in February 1982 with a screening of Superman II. Then, as now, it was a voluntary project, with everything from ticket sales to operating the projector being done by volunteers.
Patricia Dupont has witnessed the steady improvements over the years.
‘When we first started coming to the cinema, it didn’t have any heating and there were fungal things growing through the carpet. It was quite wet and the ceiling was very dicey. There was no heating either.
‘For many winters we used to bring in a sleeping bag and we would unzip it and put it across our legs and bring a flask of coffee to keep warm.
‘Now we have heating, no mushrooms growing from the floor and the change is wonderful.
‘I think we’ve got a very good cinema.’