Back in 2019…
It’s been too long. Back in 2019, as Friends of the Picture House I remember going to an open event, full of models of the cinema and architects renders of what it might look like one day. As exciting as it was, at that point losing our favourite cinema for a whole year seemed incredibly sad. How would we have felt if we’d known it would be 3?
The best laid plans go awry and 2020 obviously tore apart everyone’s plans everywhere. I don’t think we went to the cinema all year, so the loss of the Picture House was just a small part of the overall sadness (the short notice lockdown of Leeds specifically that killed off the 2020 film festival sticks out as a crushing disappointment). But in 2021 cinemas were back, the film festival was back, and The Hyde park remained closed. And for 2022 as well.
Seats with our names on
Even the most optimistic of film fans might have started to doubt it’d ever open at this point. Any fears were staved off by the fact you could physically see the work happening. On nice days we’d add a detour to outside wanders just to go see the massive hole in the ground next to the picture house. Concrete was torn up, foundations went in, all sorts of activity was going on.
Eventually things were starting to look up. The cinema introduced a number of crowd funding programs - from sponsoring lights to tiles to seats. We leapt at the chance for a seat. Or two. And now we have our names on little brass plaques on the backs of the best seats in the house (in my opinion, at least).
It wasn’t a hard choice to sponsor the cinema. It’s been such a source of joy over the 15 or so years I’ve been in Leeds. I still can’t quite work out what the first film I saw there was, but it might have been a student trip to see Aliens, accompanied by a free slice of pizza.
Subsequent happy times have been many and varied. I worked the film festival Night of the Dead a couple of times, emerging bleary eyed into Sunday sunshine after wall to wall splatter horror, and have fond memories of seeing all sorts of stuff there, from indie funded Iron Sky to a whole bunch of Greek weird wave and the adorable animation of A Town Called Panic.
HPPH into the future
I’m so pleased it’s back open again and really looking forward to seeing what they make of the space now. With a second screen, a bar area, accessible entrances, it feels like it has a lot of exciting times ahead.