The uncertainty and concerns over the Omicron strain of covid-19, and the dithering by central government over the measures to be taken by the hospitality and entertainment sectors, has prompted one venue to take its fate into its own hands and move to its own form of protections.
The volunteer-run David Lean Cinema, in the Croydon Clocktower, announced overnight that they have cancelled their screenings scheduled for tomorrow, December 23, and that all further performances through into January 2022 at the art-house movie house will be socially distanced.
The David Lean – named after the Croydon-born Oscar-winning director of Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge On The River Kwai – only re-opened in October, after nearly 18 months of enforced lockdown closures.
“The David Lean committee is keeping an eye on developments in government guidance and will of course act accordingly,” they said.
“We will continue with our January programme, but will make all screenings socially distanced. Any patrons with tickets for undistanced screenings will be contacted if their tickets have to be changed.
“We are confident in the ventilation of the [David Lean Cinema] auditorium, and that there is sufficient space for customers and volunteers to circulate safely before and after a distanced screening.
“We are of course concerned that our patrons can enjoy films in a safe environment.”
Face-coverings are mandatory at the David Lean Cinema, apart from for those with a valid exemption, “And avoid coming to the cinema if you have covid symptoms,” the announcement added.
As well as the two cancelled screenings tomorrow, the reduced capacity in the 60-seater auditorium will, inevitably, impact the cinema’s income.
It will also mean that getting tickets for some of the headline screenings planned for January is likely to be twice as difficult as usual.
Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story looks to be among the big draws in January.
It’s Spielberg’s first crack at a musical, and he has started at the top in trying to recreate the Bernstein-Sondheim 1961 classic, “paying homage to the original film while creating a visual spectacle for a new audience”, according to the David Lean’s programme compilers.
There’s another love story lined up for January, too, this one featuring Croydon-based actress Joanna Scanlan giving what critic Mark Kermode has called “a masterclass in the dramatic power of understatement”.
After Love is the directorial debut of Aleem Khan and sees Scanlan playing Mary, a woman who has converted to her husband Ahmed’s religion and living a devout life.
After his death, Mary discovers her husband’s double life. Her quest for the truth leaves her questioning her relationship, culture and identity. “After Love has the agony of a domestic tragedy and the tension of a Hitchcock thriller,” according to The Grauniad.
One other David Lean screening for next month worth highlighting is their Holocaust Memorial Day screening planned for January 29: Getting Away with Murder(s), an epic documentary that investigates the legal aftermath of the Second World War.
Beyond the drama of the Nuremberg trials, the vast majority of Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators were never prosecuted.
Director David Wilkinson interweaves the human stories of survivors and their descendants, the physical legacy of memorials and camps, and the political history of how post-war Europe decided to look the other way, which according to The Times makes for “compelling and provocative film-making”.
Tickets at the David Lean Cinema are set at bargain prices, £8.50, while for those aged 65 and over, they are £7.50. Concessions (under-25s, full-time students, claimants and people with disabilities) are £5.00.
Bookings have to be made online at www.davidleancinema.org.uk, or by phone on 020 3740 5740. The cost of the service is £2 with an extra £1 if tickets need to be posted. Hours of availability will vary, so please leave a voicemail with your name and phone number for a call back. Under current restrictions, the David Lean Cinema is unable to provide personal or cash bookings.
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