By forcing our cinema doors shut, lockdown has not only deprived film fans of the big screen, but of all the magic of a communal viewing experience. Jamie Morris catches up with Nottingham’s moviegoing scene to reminisce on their fondest cinema moments…
The thought of being huddled together in a tightly-packed, sold-out screening of a movie you’ve been eagerly anticipating feels like something from a bygone era.
Despite a brief period of being able to catch post-lockdown releases like Tenet in socially-distanced shows towards the end of 2020, Nottingham’s cinemas have been all but inaccessible since last March.
It’s not exactly clear when we might see their return, either.
In October, following one of several push-backs for the release of the new Bond film, Cineworld closed all its venues indefinitely, and with the arrival of the Tier system in November, Hockley’s independent cinema Broadway had no choice but to follow suit.
But that hasn’t stopped Nottingham’s thriving film community from dreaming of their most beloved trips to the silver screen.
George White, co-editor of the Screen section for LeftLion Magazine, celebrated two of Nottingham’s most iconic and unique cinemas.
“Every trip to Broadway is always special,” he said.
“There’s nothing like wolfing down an inconceivable amount of pizza from the cafebar before getting lost in the latest big screen release.
“My favourite time there has to be when I watched Portrait of a Lady On Fire – it was such a quiet film, but in the silence you could hear people’s encapsulation with this incredible story.
“There’s nothing better than that shared experience with a room full of random people.
“I have to give a shout out to Savoy as well, though – a proper, old-school movie theatre which is always a joy to visit.”
Hollie Anderson, media and communications manager at Nottingham Playhouse, said that the cinema helped to give her a sense of belonging.
“It took me a while to brave going to the cinema alone,” she said.
“I’d lived in the city for a year and decided it was time to give it go.
“I made a day of it; wandering around Hockley before taking my coffee and chocolate into the Thursday 11am viewing of Little Women.
“I can remember feeling so happy. Independent, warm and finally, properly at home.”
Roshan Chandy, a freelance film critic based in Nottingham, looked back to when the first lockdown restrictions began to ease.
“I went to see Rocks on re-opening night at Broadway and stood behind [actor] Shaneigha-Monik Greyson and director Sarah Gavron in the queue.
“I didn’t know they were the stars of the film until they got up on the stage to introduce the film and did a Q&A afterwards.
“That’s my little claim to fame!”
Joanna Hoyes, an English Literature student and fellow film writer, said that a trip to the cinema in October helped to distract her from the pandemic.
“I was so desperate to go back to the cinema after months of closures due to Covid.
“When I heard that Broadway were showing the new film Supernova starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth as part of the BFI Film Festival 2020, I grabbed a couple of available friends and we braved the still eerily quiet streets of town on a cold Sunday in October.
“The experience wasn’t diminished by the strange circumstances.
“The film was stunning, the staff were so helpful and patient and I got to share a moment of pure cinema with my friends, just like the good old days.
“I felt so happy to be back in, not just a cinema, but one of the best independent cinemas in the UK.”
Zach Omitowoju, a Media Production student at Nottingham Trent, also misses the social element of the cinema.
“I loved going to see Saint Maud with my ex-flat mates,” he said.
“That was the last film I saw at Broadway.
“Sadly, there was a little bit of negativity at the time because I had not heard a lot of positive things about the film, but it was definitely a night I’ll always remember because of the people I watched it with.
“In fact, all of us were laughing immediately right after coming out of the cinema.”