it’s the little cinema with a huge heart that has charmed film lovers for more than a century. And 100 years after its birth, Hyde Park Picture House remains a shining cultural gem for Leeds.
Wendy Cook, 32, general manager, started working there in her second year of university selling sweets and “fell head over heels in love with the place and with the customers”.
“I had an amazing education in film here,” she said.
“During the day, we get so many people popping their head through the door saying ‘I came here as a student’ and when they talk about it, a smile appears on their face. It’s a wonderful place, and it looks like a cinema that fell out of the movies itself.”
The old building has its fair share of creaking joints, and there have been many refurbishments which tried to retain its unique character while also bringing the facilities into the digital age.
“While we love the heritage of the space, our seats are a bit comfier than they were in 1914,” Wendy jokes. “We have quite a few epic all nighters, so comfort is important.”
The Picture House works extensively with partners like Leeds International Film Festival and Screen Yorkshire, two more stalwarts in the city’s thriving film scene. It also supports local filmmakers.
“Film is incredibly important in terms of cultural heritage,” says Wendy.
“It’s a way to access different worlds. Yesterday we had 150 people watching a documentary about teen movies. It’s fantastic to be able to move from that to It’s a Wonderful Life to a Q and A session with a filmmaker.”
BACK THE BID FOR #YESLEEDS
Wendy and her film-loving colleagues are backing the idea of the city bidding to be European Capital of Culture in 2023. She said: “The bid can bring together the whole arts scene. I love film, but also love how it engages with other art forms like music. It can really consolidate what’s going on in the city, and we have such a lot going on.”
The YEP has launched the #YesLeeds hashtag to back the bid. Get involved with the debate online via www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk, on our Facebook page or by following @LeedsNews on Twitter.