One of the highlights of summer here at the seaside is the grand arrival of the Brighton Big Screen, an open-air seafront cinema with a huge 40-square-metre screen that pops up on the beach just east of the pier. In fact, one of my favourite summer memories was watching Top Gun on the big screen with a bunch of friends and a few beers, and the 200-strong crowd bellowing out “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…” to a close up of Tom Cruise’s face. This year, the Brighton Big Screen is back to celebrate its fifth birthday with another fantastic line up of football and films.
“In 2012, we decided to build a big screen on the beach for the Olympics; how hard can that be?” said Bill Murray, the CEO of Brighton Big Screen, at the event’s launch in March.”We thought we might get about four or five thousand coming to the event, but in fact, more than 23,000 people turned up!”
Between the 10th June and 10th July, Brighton residents and visitors can hit the beach for a programme of classic films including Jaws (surprisingly thrilling when sat just yards from the water’s edge), Grease, Dirty Dancing and Labyrinth, plus more recent releases such as the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Inside Out and Stars Wars: The Force Awakens. The Brighton Big Screen will also show all of the Euro 2016 matches live, and Wimbledon.
But the Brighton Big Screen is as much about the experience as it is the movie. Alongside a fully licensed bar, this year’s offerings include food from our homegrown Pizzaface and Bagelman, both of which will have pop-up stalls, Aunty Bunny’s Hut for fabulous Caribbean food, and Greedy Goat ice creams. This year, the Big Screen has partnered with hotel company, Ibis, to offer a VIP rent-a-bed experience, where you can watch films lounging on one of Ibis’ new range of Sweet Beds, plus pizza, popcorn and booze and the best view in the house.
But if you miss the month of beach screenings, have no fear. No sooner than the Big Screen closes, the city welcomes the Bicycle Film Festival, a hip arts event originating in New York which celebrates our obsession with two-wheelers with a whole host of films and short features dedicated to the humble bicycle.
It’s no surprise that Brighton was picked by the NYC-based festival as the UK’s host city, as we have a long history with the silver screen and it was in Brighton where photographer and inventor, William Friese-Green, pioneered the use of colour cinematography back in 1898. At the flickering heart of the city’s film scene is the Duke of York’s Picturehouse, Brighton’s legendary art house cinema on Preston Circus (famous for its huge pair of black-and-white stripy legs kicking from the roof!). It opened in September 1910 on the site of the former Amber Ale brewery and is regarded as the country’s oldest, continually serving cinema.
The festival takes place between the 14th and 16th July and will feature short films like ‘Bear’, a black comedy about a boyfriend’s birthday surprise gone wrong by Aussie director, Nash Edgerton, and ‘Personal Gold – An Underdog Story’, an American film about a team of female cyclists who became US hopefuls for the London Olympics in 2012 after the men’s team were banned over the Lance Armstrong drug scandal. There will also be live music events and a talk by Boneshaker cycling mag’s lead writer, Jet McDonald.
So if you fancy paying homage to Brighton’s fabulous film scene over the next month or so, then plan your next trip to the seaside. Start by checking our Brighton hotel deals.