10 quirky independent cinemas in Sussex
PUBLISHED: 11:29 15 March 2016 | UPDATED: 15:22 21 February 2018
Move away from the multiplex and into one of our historic independent picture palaces...
Duke of York’s Picturehouse
Located just a stone’s throw from Brighton station, the Grade II-listed Duke of York’s Picturehouse serves up a tantalising mixture of screenings ranging from current blockbusters to cult classics. Not technically an independent – it is part of the Picturehouse chain – it is the oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK and boasts a 283-seat auditorium which includes balcony seating. Local film festival Cine-City has taken place annually since 2003 showcasing previews of the year’s most anticipated films. Duke of York’s also holds a civil ceremonies licence, making it the ideal wedding location for loved-up cinephiles. Future highlights include a 35mm screening of Carol and a reshowing of Hitchcock classic Psycho.
This characterful Edwardian auditorium is mainly run by a dedicated team of volunteer staff from the surrounding community which makes Hailsham Pavilion a hub of cultural activity. Surviving many changes of hands, this Grade II-listed building even had a brief stint as a bingo hall before being bought and restored by the local council and residents between 1993 and 2000. A lovingly refurbished 203-seat auditorium provides a “uniquely friendly atmosphere”, which offers an extensive mix of films, live music and theatre production. A true community triumph on every level, Hailsham Pavilion is an independent gem.
This intimate two-screen cinema in East Sussex is home to a plethora of cinematic offerings which just goes to show that size isn’t everything. Fully equipped with state-of-the-art high definition digital projection and sound equipment, Kino Rye is wholly dedicated to providing the best movie-going experience. A number of special events run alongside the diverse film programme including a number of in depth Q&A screenings, the latest being with Bridge of Spies screenwriter Matt Charman. Kino Rye is unusual in being a popcorn-free zone as it is not on sale on site.
Another Grade II-listed Edwardian cinema, which recently celebrated its centenary, is the stylishly opulent Dome in Worthing. Showing an eclectic assortment of the latest films seven days a week, The Dome had its own starring role in David Leland’s short critical hit Wish You Were Here. For the film quiz experience (which is held on the last Tuesday of each month) contestants are asked to watch a specific film before the big event. Other unique features are the double bills and midnight openings which rival even the biggest multiplex.
Hastings Electric Palace
An independent bijou cinema situated in the heart of Hastings, the volunteer-driven Electric Palace specialises in presenting a smorgasbord of contemporary, classic and foreign language screenings. The cinema programme is put together quarterly with staff choosing films they would like to see the most. Set up in 2002, The Electric Palace became a haven for those with less mainstream cinema tastes. Striving to put arthouse well and truly back on the map the film listings read like a cinephile’s ultimate dream – there’s even a B Movie Fan Club.
Woody Allen’s Love and Death was the first film to be shown in 16mm on 20 September 1979 at what was then named ‘Chichester College Adult Education Film Society’. Founded by Roger Gibson, who is still the artistic consultant and festival director to this day, Chichester Cinema is probably best known for its annual international film festival which hits its 25th anniversary this year. Local adult and school communities benefit from the film education offered at New Park which provides invaluable insight into the many forms of film. From The Iron Giant to Jean-Luc Goddard, there is truly something for everyone at this diverse cinema.
Uckfield Picture House
Currently celebrating a hundred years of cinema, Uckfield Picture House has been managed by the Markwick family since 1964. A recent addition to the cinema is its restaurant, which offers themed evenings such as the upcoming Food and Film Quiz and the recent 007 evening. The Picture House offers a wide range of screenings, including new releases, classics and cultural screenings from the National Theatre and Royal Opera. Movie events are also a major highlight and future plans include Moulin Rouge – Burlesque Night, Grease – ’50s Night and Dad’s Army – Don’t Panic! Dinner and Dance.
Picturedrome – Bognor Regis
Originally built in the late 19th century, the Picturedrome Cinema has managed to retain its original architecture from when it was first used as an assembly hall in 1886. Purchased by Reeltime Cinemas Ltd. in 2003 the Picturedrome now houses three distinctive screens, which are all fully equipped with modern digital projectors and Dolby Digital Surround Sound for the most immersive experience possible. Conveniently located opposite Bognor Regis railway station, the Picturedrome’s screening schedule offers a wide range of the latest blockbusters alongside live screenings of opera, theatre and ballet and occasional foreign film events.
Opening its door in 1920, the colourfully historic Eastbourne Curzon (originally named The Picturedrome Cinema) started out by showing a selection of silent films with a live accompanying orchestra. The Curzon is home to the immensely popular Eastbourne Film Society which presents a series of 11 films, many of foreign origin, during its season which runs from September through to March. Recent films have included the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup and Polish Oscar winner Ida. Eastbourne Curzon also offers an extensive range of competitions on its website with prizes varying from blu-rays and DVDs to film merchandise.
Roundhill Picture Palace
By far the most singular cinema on this list, the Roundhill Picture Palace is a unique ‘pocket picturedrome’ which is located next to the main door of the New Park Centre in Chichester. A large shepherd’s hut exterior hides the transportive 1930s Odeon-inspired interior which is lined with plush vintage carpet and 14 authentic cinema seats. On the walls is a series of lavish paintings that pay homage to classic British films including Harry Potter, Swallows and Amazons and Doctor Zhivago. Anyone can commission a private screening in the world’s smallest travelling picture house, the most unique cinema experience!