Actor Scanlan to talk in pitiless close-up about her latest part

One of the great achievements of the David Lean Cinema campaigners over the past five years or so has been their ability to organise events around their movie screenings in the Clocktower’s arthouse picture house, pulling in some fascinating and exciting movie-makers.

Joanna Scanlan (left) and Lily Newmark star in Deborah Haywood’s Pin Cushion

So it is with Joanna Scanlan, the guest at a Q&A at their first screening of their September programme (tickets for which go on sale later this week).

Securing Scanlan to speak about Pin Cushion (which is screened on September 4) is a double whammy: one of British screen’s finest talents, both in front of and behind the camera, after viewing an already acclaimed piece of British cinema.

And all for less than a tenner.

Pin Cushion, which was released last month after having been highly praised at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, was described by Grauniad reviewer Peter Bradshaw as having “something toe-curlingly painful in this festival of abuse”.

Bradshaw wrote, “It is a film whose claustrophobia and nightmare-sadness are superbly controlled, and Scanlan gives us one of the best performances of her career as the pitiful and unpitied Lyn.”

Joanna Scanlan: David Lean Cinema guest on Sep 4

Scanlan will be familiar to television viewers for her parts in The Thick Of It, Rev and No Offence, and she was Bafta-nominated for Getting On, the darkly true NHS comedy series she starred in and co-wrote alongside Jo Brand. She’s also starred in BBC drama series Requiem, and on the big screen has had roles in Notes On A Scandal, In The Loop and Testament Of Youth.

Pin Cushion, an indie-produced film by first-time director Deborah Haywood, is all about the performances of Scanlan, as budgie-obsessed eccentric mum Lyn, and Lily Newmark, who plays her lonely teenager daughter, Iona.

“Joanna Scanlan gives an outstanding and rather terrifying performance, mostly in uncompromising and pitiless close-up,” one reviewer noted. Which is surely something to put to Scanlan as an ice-breaker at the Q&A after the screening.

The David Lean Cinema is now closed for repairs until August 18 (the August programme is listed here), while tickets for September, including Pin Cushion, go on sale on Thursday. The Arts Bar box office at the cinema will be open on August 9 from 1.30pm to 2.30pm if you wish to make your bookings in person.

The Save the David Lean Cinema Campaigns annual meeting is on Wednesday September 19 at 8pm at the Braithwaite Hall (opposite the entrance to the David Lean Cinema).The theme of the meeting this year will be “Listening To Our Audience”.

The campaigners state: “At the meeting, in addition to reports on our work and our finances, there will be an opportunity for you to air your views and ask questions about our activities. We particularly want to hear what you enjoy at the cinema; what you’d like to see more; what you’d like to see less; and how we might plan our future.”

The Campaign is seeking “committed people to fill several places alongside our core of experienced volunteers”. If you are interested, please get in touch with secretary John Ingman to see what is involved (e-mail:

  • Unless otherwise stated, tickets for all screenings are £8.50. Concessions (Freedom Pass-holders, full-time students, claimants and disabled) £7. Rush tickets may also be available for under-25s.

David Lean Cinema programme for September

All films are at 2.30 and 7.30pm unless stated

Tue Sep 4 PIN CUSHION (15) (7.30pm)
Plus Q&A with Joanna Scanlan
2017 UK 82min. Director: Deborah Haywood
Stars: Lily Newmark, Joanna Scanlan, Loris Scarpa

A mother and her teenaged daughter move into a northern town. Disabled and friendless, mother Lyn (Scanlan – The Thick of It; The Invisible Woman) tries to keep daughter Iona (Newmark) in a state of childhood, but as the pressures of high school life weigh upon Iona, the pair’s relationship takes a painful turn… Hayward and her cast weave an intriguing and disturbing spell in this imaginative, inventive and moving debut.
Joanna Scanlan joins us for a Q&A after the film.

2018 UK/USA 114min. Director: Ol Parker
Stars: Lily James, Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep

Five years after the events of Mamma Mia, a pregnant Sophie dreams of reopening the renovated Hotel Bella Donna with a party to reunite her family and friends. Sophie learns about her mother Donna’s spirited past and the holiday where she first encountered Harry, Bill and Sam, the three loves of her life. Here We Go Again is a highly enjoyable sequel – graced once more with ABBA’s greatest hits while, as the young Sophie, the effervescent Lily James now leads the star-studded cast.
*The 2.30pm screening will be subtitled for those with hearing loss.

2017 Sp 90min (subtitled). Director: Gustavo Salmerón
Features: Julita Salmerón, Antonio García Cabanes, Ramón García Salmerón

Fourteen years in the making, Salmeron has edited 400 hours of footage into this documentary of his charismatic Spanish mother, Julita. While her wish to have lots of children, own a monkey and live in a castle came true, the economic crisis forces her to downsize and perhaps part with some of her curious treasure trove. As Julita attempts to make decisions about her future, this warm and funny portrayal is underpinned by the power of her charming and revealing anecdotes.

Thu Sep 13 SUMMER 1993 (12A)
2017 Sp 98min (subtitled). Director: Carla Simón
Stars: Laia Artigas, Paula Robles, Bruna Cusí, David Verdaguer

Six-year-old Frida has just been orphaned, and is sent from Barcelona to a new rural life with her uncle, aunt and four-year-old cousin. They are kind and patient, yet Frida will struggle to come to terms with everything that’s happened. Simon’s autobiographical debut is a low-key wonder: sensitive, with a keen sense of place, and blessed equally by the director’s magical gift for visual poetry and the contained yet heartrending performance of its young star. ”A jewel. In its subtlety, richness and warmth it is entirely beguiling” (The Guardian).

Tue Sep 18 SICILIAN GHOST STORY (15) (7.30pm)
2017 It/Fr/Switz 122min (subtitled). Directors: Fabio Grassadonia, Antonio Piazza
Stars: Julia Jedlikowska, Gaetano Fernandez, Corinne Musallari

A phenomenon at Cannes and in Italy – where it inspired many young people to return to the cinema – this supernatural drama with mythical elements re-imagines the tragic story of 12-year old Giuseppe Di Matteo, kidnapped by the Mafia in 1993 in a bid to silence his informant father. With classmate Luna relentlessly striving to find him, her love and devotion provide a healing sense that good need not be extinguished by man’s capacity for evil. The two Sicilian directors have the vision needed to deliver on this fascinating and audacious premise.

1928 Ind/UK/Ger 105min. Director: Franz Osten
Stars: Himansu Rai, Charu Roy, Seeta Devi

Based on the romance between 17th-century Mughal ruler Shah Jahan and his queen, this epic silent movie retells the creation of one of the world’s most iconic structures: the Taj Mahal. An international co-production shot entirely on location in India with an all-Indian cast, it features lavish costumes and gorgeous settings. Shiraz, a humble potter’s son, follows his childhood sweetheart Selima to Agra when she’s kidnapped by slave traders and sold to the future emperor. This BFI restoration includes a score by Anoushka Shankar.

Tue Sep 25 VAGABOND (15) (7.30pm)
1985 Fr 105min (subtitled). Director: Agnès Varda
Stars: Sandrine Bonnaire, Macha Méril, Stéphane Freiss

Bonnaire won a Best Actress César for her portrayal of Mona – a young and defiant drifter in this tragic story. Using a largely non-professional cast, Agnès Varda’s splintered portrait of the enigmatic woman is told through flashbacks of those who encounter her. Varda, now 90, and still working, is one of the few remaining members of the French New Wave, and this is “one of her greatest films: enigmatic, possessed of a cool artistry in its structural asymmetries and inconsistencies, and as gripping as any thriller” (The Guardian).

Thu Sep 27 COLD WAR (15)
2018 Pol/Fra/UK 88min (subtitled). Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Stars: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc

As the Cold War deepens in post-war Poland, a torrid romance develops between Wiktor, a composer, and Zula, a singer and dancer. Wiktor discovers her while auditioning local girls for a folk troupe, falling in love with her almost instantly and ignoring his assistant’s warning that Zula “apparently killed her father”. She becomes a star, though also a tool of the state propaganda machine… This is another gem of rare visual and musical beauty from Pawlikowski, director of the Academy Award winning Ida.

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