Monday, August 18, 2008

Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams

Iright went to the Ballerina on Sunday
Sunday afternoon is not my usual time to go to the cinema, I just don’t go. I had but written off attending the big screen ever again post a couple of unhappy trips to the Vue in Inverness, so I hadn’t really thought of attending another magic lantern show until our new venue in Nairn opened this week. Fascinated by the world wide attention which the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams has created I have read all the on-line news and gossip. Strange facts arrive about Tilda Swinton the patron of new cinema, none of which I really want to know. All the reviews seem to be pleasant, some are clearly unhappy that the event is taking place at all, and hard as they look most cannot find fault. As I settle down in my deck chair in the newly refurbished cinema, I for one am absorbed by the black and white film showing on the screen, and for an hour or more I am swept away from the humdrum of a Sunday afternoon - success! I have watched the succession of work folk over the weeks enter the old bingo hall. I can only view the finished article and imagine it was quite a task to turn the smoke encrusted building into a cinema.> Just like venues of old there are queues outside the door. A piper plays some welcoming tunes although his close proximity makes we want to ask him if he knows the reel ‘play it across the street’. The person behind me arrived with a bundle of fairy cakes rather than cash and jigs and digs the tupperware box into my back as she dances to the tunes. ‘This performance is sold out, another one will be at 4:30’ is not what I want to hear, but slightly dented rather than crushed I purchase (With cash) my ticket. Entering the theatre is both magical and wondrous as it is hand crafted and different. My eyes adjust to the gloom (Atmosphere?) and see rows of chairs, bean bags, and deck chairs. Although proper deck chairs are rarely seen on the beach these days it is another stroke of genius to choose them as seating, and very comfortable they were too. Music plays as we wait. The kitchen on the side sells all sorts of goodies, and people emerge with mugs of tea and sweet items. The seating arrangement still allows for folk to stand on your feet as they shuffle past, again, and again, and again, till you wonder if their bladders can possibly need further emptying! I have never been to a cinema before where there is a total lack of advertising. No Pearl & Dean, no local garages. Even the nibbles are without labels, although there does seem to be a certain demand by some members of the audience to appear cool (Clothing)! The show begins, music, lights, and Tilda and Mark on step ladders. A banner ‘The State of Cinema’ is held aloft and suddenly it all makes sense. This is the High Street shop as it should be, no supermarket cinema here. I am absorbed into the film only to be transported back into a cinema again by the rustle of a sweet wrapper behind me. All over too soon we clap politely at the end of the film and there is a gentile crawl to the still bright daylight exit. Eight and a half days is not long to have the joy of a cinema in the High Street. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the folk of Nairn if Tilda decided to give up the day job and run our cinema full time?
Thanks Iright, saw that movie too ( I know where I'm going) and had an extra laugh or two at some of the excellent use of Gaelic in the dialogue. It was a wonderful film and a great experience inside the Ballerina. It's so different from the experience of the Vue yes, the last time I went there was to see the Gaelic film Seachd and it'll be a long time before I go back. Just getting there is an unfortunate consumer experience of the new millenium with the 'you could be anywhere' consumerscape of the Golden mile. So different in Nairn, thank you Tilda and I'd like to second Irigth's motion: can we have more please?
And just looking at one of the hundreds of articles that mention Nairn and the Ballerina perhaps our dream of a full-time cinema showing wonderful films will come true. Reported in the Scotsman:
'I speak to Swinton shortly afterwards, next to the box office. She seems giddy with success. When I tell her that locals have been saying they want something like this here permanently, her eyes gleam. "Actually, my great dream is to run a cinema," she says. "That would be absolutely wonderful."

1 comment:

stephen smerdon said...

Being part of the team in the "ballerina cinema of dreams" (festival fixer ) I would just like to thank my townsfolk of nairn for there enthusiasim and attendance both as cinema goers and volunteers in what turned out to be a magical 8 and a half days . This is a prime example of what is needed in nairn to give it a kick up the kyber pass (somewhere around broadhill ) and get tourists coming back not only for our truly wonderful location but for what is becoming "festival town " including jazz , art and book, and now a film festival who knows whats next ! and a big thank you to tilda swinton who came up with the idea and got nairn worldwide coverage during the festival.. she even went on to the david letterman chat show watched by millions to talk about her new movie but instead ended up turning the interview in to one huge advertisment for our town .. when i mentioned this to Tilda.. she said maybe she should "calm down on plugging Nairn" to which my reply was "don't you dare !" plans are in motion to see how this film festival might continue ...watch this space !

Stephen Smerdon