Film Co-op to be launched at former city centre cinema
Cheshire residents are invited to share their memories of the city centre’s former Odeon building at a special weekend-long event which will see film come back to life in the old cinema.
Cheshire West and Chester Council has recently commissioned UK artist and lecturer Janet Hodgson to work on re-animating the Odeon as part of plans to develop the empty building into a new theatre, library and cinema.
Over the next 18 months Janet will lead a programme of artistically driven and community-focused activities showcasing the building’s historic past.
Her first task is to form a Film Co-op – which will be launched at event All Together Now - an exhibition of works by artist film-makers of the North West taking place this weekend (Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15).
Part of Chester’s Heritage Open Days, the new studios based in 45-47 Northgate Street will showcase film works to members of the public from 10am to 5pm Friday to Sunday, including Truce Tableaux by Grennan & Sperandio, Janet Hodgson’s Moving Pictures and Crescendo by Dinu LI.
Studio Two will also host an exhibition of images from the archive of Peter Davies, chief technician at the Odeon from 1971 to 2007, curated by Natalie Meer.
And the team are hoping visitors will share their memories of the iconic building over the following two days, where members of the Chester Film Co-op will be collecting the public’s recollections and memories of the Odeon to form part of the Project Archive from 10am to 5pm.
Executive member for culture and recreation, Cllr Stuart Parker, said: “We were delighted to be able to appoint Janet to play such a vital role in ensuring local residents are with us every step of the way as the former Odeon becomes a hub of activity and focal point in the city.
“The special event is a fantastic opportunity to not only see examples of the type of works Janet will create but also to meet the team and see if you can get involved.
“I would encourage any local residents with an interest in Chester’s great history and the former Odeon building in particular, or those with a love of film and art, to come along over the weekend, share their memories and learn about the project.”
Film Co-ops are owned and run by their members, and focus on independent films that are not available in mainstream cinema, including regular non-commercial screenings of films that challenge current economic, social and political arrangements and offer progressive alternatives.
Janet Hodgson said: “I am delighted to be able to take up this role in preserving such an iconic building’s memories through the medium of film and art but we need help from local residents to make sure their recollections are recorded.
“My first task in this role is to set up a Chester Film Co-op, inspired by the hay day of the Odeon in the 1930s, when a state attempt to give British film a shot in the arm resulted in the new form of film ‘Quota Quickie’.
“These films, where no more than ï¿½1 was spent for every foot of film, had surprising, vital and funny results and I hope that as many local people come on board as possible as we work with the idea of the home grown, self-made film.
“A big part of this project will involve the collection of people’s memories, heritage and memorabilia relating to the historic building and we are open to everyone who wants to be involved.”
Local residents are invited to come along and share stories, pictures, memorabilia and if possible be filmed.