Autumn films at Pictureville Bradford: Get Out, Ghostbusters, From Russia With Love and more at National Science and Media Museum

Cinema has had a major boost of late with the tandem blockbuster timing of Oppenheimer and Barbie, reminding audiences exactly why we love the silver screen.

The people behind Pictureville at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford - the main part of which is temporarily closed until summer next year for a £6m transformation - know all about the power of a proper movie-going experience.

And it was in rude health at Widescreen Weekend, the venue’s annual festival celebrating cinema, which ended earlier this month after five days of screenings. Now, head of screen and cultural engagement, Sally Folkard, wants to carry forward the momentum from a successful weekend into an exciting line-up of autumn events.

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Reflecting on Widescreen Weekend, she says: “It was a fabulous few days. We made sure that the programme covered so many aspects - that there should have been something for all audiences to enjoy - which is easier said than done when you’re behind the desk looking at the programme. Actually seeing audiences over the weekend coming out of things like the Lord of the Rings all-nighter, and then going into classic screenings, and seeing the flow of movement of different audiences through different parts of the programme was just amazing, to be honest. And obviously the museum’s shut so we had one screen to work with, so whilst we were all busy in Pictureville, it was also really nice to know that we had six other venues around Bradford that were screening their own programme in partnership with us, welcoming different audiences into those spaces as well. This year felt really broad and really diverse and there was kind of a buzz in the air. It was great.”

Cinema Operations Manager Jennifer Weston-Beyer pictured in the cinema at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford in October 2022. Picture: Simon Hulme.Cinema Operations Manager Jennifer Weston-Beyer pictured in the cinema at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford in October 2022. Picture: Simon Hulme.
Cinema Operations Manager Jennifer Weston-Beyer pictured in the cinema at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford in October 2022. Picture: Simon Hulme.

As well as a pre-screening at Saltaire Festival, the venue also worked with Bradford Playhouse, Bradford Cathedral, Bradford Queer Film Festival, The Unit filmmaking collective in Keighley and Bradford Movie Makers, the club which gained prominence in last year’s A Bunch of Amateurs documentary.

Back at the main Pictureville base, films such as Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma could be seen exclusively on rare 70mm - with the director of the latter even delivering a personalised message of thanks on the screen - and a new 35mm print of the Rebel Without a Cause.

Looking ahead, this weekend Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H will round off the venue’s Don’t Look Back season of screenings associated with Hollywood’s blacklisted creatives in the 1960s and 70s (the film’s screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr being among them).

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A new season, It’s Alive!, will give people a chance to enjoy the run-up to Halloween at the cinema with Frankenweenie, The Invisible Man, Hocus Pocus, The Fly, Ghostbusters, Flubber and Metropolis and a Frankenstein double bill.

Pictureville has also been marking Black History Month with screenings and people can still see Cassius X: Becoming Ali, Rocks and Get Out in the coming days as part of that season, having worked with local programmer Lucas Bywater.

On Thursday, November 2 there will be a one-off screening of Anurag Kashyap’s Kennedy as part of the London Indian Film Festival.

Pictureville is getting involved with Leeds International Film Festival next month, too, screening From Russia With Love, North By Northwest, Charlie Bubbles and Kuroneko.

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Then towards the end of the year there will be a season offering films by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, such as Black Narcissus.

As well as being an independent cinema, says Sally, “we’re also a public building, we're a national museum, so it's our job to serve the public and I take that really seriously in terms of the cinema programme as well.

“We're not a mainstream cinema. Those cinemas are amazing for what they do, but that's not what we do. Our job is to bring a really broad programme to audiences and show stories from different cultures and different communities, to really kind of show that new talent that's coming through as well. So I think that, for me, is the independence but it's also a duty of care, that we have to continuously test ourselves to make sure that we're doing an accessible programme.”

That means meeting needs with the likes of subtitled and accessible screenings, she says.

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When the full museum does reopen next year, she hopes that the opportunities they’ve had working with others during the closure can be a springboard for new ventures or different ways of working.

Sally says: “I think it's a chance for us to kind of have a little bit of a shake-up and think a little bit differently about what the museum should be doing for its audiences. How can we serve them better in the future?”

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