A Celebration

The David Lean Celebrates 10 Years as a Community Cinema

The David Lean Cinema was opened by Croydon Council on 3 March 1995, along with other Croydon Clocktower arts venues. It was named in honour of the Croydon-born, Oscar-winning director of films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. Major arts budget cuts caused the council to close the cinema in April 2011, but dismayed film-lovers soon set up the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign, to explore ways in which it might be reopened. Following nearly three years of hard work, the Campaign gained the council’s approval to run it as a community initiative. It reopened on 27 March 2014 with a screening of Basically, Johnny Moped, attended by punk luminaries that included Captain Sensible and Johnny Moped.

In 2015, the Campaign became a Community Interest Company. Since then, pandemic excepted, it has maintained a distinctive programme of arthouse and mainstream films, with the assistance of over 80 volunteers who act as projectionists, stewards and box office and Arts Bar staff. With over 20 screenings a month, it has given south London residents the opportunity to see outstanding independent and foreign language films at reasonable prices. During 2023-24 it screened all 10 films nominated for the Best Film BAFTA and all 16 films in the Best Director category.

With the 10th anniversary approaching, Heather Hardie (the cinema’s chair) said “we want it to be a celebration of all the David Lean’s dedicated volunteers, who have given their time and energy to make the cinema a success. It also concludes the steps we have taken to raise the cinema’s profile during Croydon’s year as London Borough of Culture.”

Three special anniversary events will showcase the work of Sir David Lean, starting on Saturday 23 March, when his final film A Passage to India (1984) will be shown. This gained Croydon-born Dame Peggy Ashcroft the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. There will be a Q&A featuring actor Art Malik and Assistant Director Patrick Cadell, chaired by BAFTA-winning actress (and Croydon resident) Joanna Scanlan, who has given the cinema fantastic support since becoming its patron last year.

There’s also a chance to see the perennial favourite Hobson’s Choice (1954), which will be presented on 35mm via a BFI print. The David Lean is London’s only cinema south of Brixton to retain 35mm projection. Finally, on the anniversary, there will be the UK’s first ever screening of Nostromo: David Lean’s Impossible Dream, kindly provided by Warner Bros. Discovery in Spain. This fascinating 2017 documentary reveals how close Lean came to bringing Joseph Conrad’s novel to the screen, before his death in April 1991. The film was made in collaboration with The David Lean Foundation, and two of the Foundation’s trustees will be amongst the guests attending.

Full details of all upcoming films can be found on the David Lean’s website: www.davidleancinema.org.uk.