Film festival was a memorable experience

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ONCE again the Whitley Bay Film Festival organisers delivered an eclectic programme of films using the iconic venues of the Dome and the Lighthouse, as well as the Trojan Rooms.

The ethos of the festival always seems to centre round enjoyment, on family entertainment, which fits in well with the hopes of locals that Whitley Bay can be reclaimed as a seaside resort, with a nod in the direction of its Edwardian heritage.

The Dome was an inspired choice of venue for Dracula, King Kong and The Rocky Horror Show (as was the Lighthouse for The Fog).

Unfortunately the Dome is still virtually a building site.

Having lived with a half-derelict Spanish City for years, the residents of Whitley Bay stoically accept this but now the Dome has been painted and the dancing ladies returned, how we long to have something ‘in it.’ For two weeks though, the film festival was that thing.

The festival experience was totally unlike the Odeon Multiplex – no rip-off fizzy drinks, but the chance to pre-order and eat freshly-cooked chips.

It wasn’t like the Tyneside Cinema. There were no permanent seats for a start, only deckchairs.

But that added to its charm. It was slightly like sitting within an art installation, a work in progress, and the experience brought back to me the excitement of sitting in the flickering darkness as a child, waiting to be transported to another world.

Another memorable feature was the Pearl and Dean adverts.

Amazing to think that despite the now ‘vintage’ marketing, many of the businesses shown are still in existence today.

I didn’t get the chance to view everything offered at the festival. The ‘Secret Cinema’ showings seemed intriguing, and I didn’t make the archive films.

However it was clear from the programme that there were opportunities for the whole community to get together to enjoy film in all its variety.

I’m sure the festival had its critics. I felt that improvements could be made to its accessibility – providing subtitled films for the deaf and hard of hearing, and wheelchair ramps and handrails for those with mobility difficulties.

I also felt that although the Dome and Lighthouse were pretty hard to miss, the Trojan Rooms were not well signposted from both the seafront and the town centre.

However it does seem to me that the festival has a solid base on which to build on for another year. Let’s hope it happens.


Whitley Bay