The 27th edition of the Widescreen Weekend film festival is set to make its return this autumn, highlighting the pioneering CinemaScope process on its 70th anniversary.
From the 28th of September to the 2nd of October, attendees will have the opportunity to indulge in a mix of classic and contemporary films. These movies will utilise the widescreen aspect ratio, showcased through the top-tier projection capabilities and skilful projectionists at Pictureville Cinema. The festival will encompass exclusive talks from industry leaders, stunning print screenings, revitalised Cinerama works, and more, all with the intention of rekindling our enchantment with the cinematic marvel of going to the movies.
The festival’s impressive lineup has been enriched with notable additions. This includes a highly anticipated 70mm screening of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015), a film shot in Ultra Panavision 70, a format unseen for nearly half a century before its limited roadshow-style release eight years ago.
Another notable inclusion is Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018), an iconic monochromatic cinematic masterpiece. This film will be exclusively screened in the grandeur of 70mm.
Among the celebrated classics is the local favourite Billy Liar (1963), filmed in Bradford, which commemorates its 60th anniversary this year. Additionally, festival attendees can relish a fresh 35mm print of the iconic Rebel Without a Cause (1955), a part of the BFI’s Keep Film on Film initiative. This print has only been showcased once before.
The focal point of this year’s festival is the tribute to CinemaScope, a groundbreaking process that dominated the film landscape during the 1950s and 1960s. Emerging in response to the rise of television, CinemaScope aimed to entice audiences back into theatres by delivering a more immersive cinematic encounter.
The festival commences with a rare screening of Kaagaz Ke Phool or Paper Flowers (1959), the premier South Asian film in CinemaScope. This emotionally resonant tale, depicted in black and white, was widely regarded as ahead of its time.
Prominent titles in the festival also comprise screenings of The Robe (1953), the first-ever CinemaScope film release, and Lady and the Tramp (1955), the inaugural animation applying the CinemaScope technique. The festival’s purview extends to international adaptations of the process, encompassing the French ‘Franscope’, featuring The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), and Japan’s ‘TohoScope’, spotlighting The Hidden Fortress (1958).
Under the banner of “Queens of the Scope Age,” the festival honours pioneering actresses from that era, such as Joanne Woodward, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, and Hideko Takamine. The screenings of No Down Payment (1957), Guys and Dolls (1955), Bonjour Tristesse (1958), and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) showcase their remarkable contributions.
On the 30th of September, the festival introduces its inaugural overnight movie marathon, offering cinephiles the chance to experience all three extended cuts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in succession. This unparalleled event will occur on the distinctive curved Cinerama screen at Pictureville Cinema, the world’s last remaining of its kind, promising an utterly distinctive and immersive encounter.
Given that Pictureville Cinema is now the exclusive venue for Cinerama presentations, the festival will present opportunities to witness this cinematic spectacle in both analogue and digital formats. The lineup will incorporate an array of one-off Cinerama screenings, including Windjammer: The Voyage of Christian Radich (1958) and This is Cinerama (1952).
This year, the festival is branching out into the city, with a series of partner screenings. This includes an advance showing of The Greatest Showman (2017) as part of the Saltaire Festival on the 8th of September. Moreover, festivalgoers can delight in The Iron Giant (1999) at Bradford Cathedral, along with partner screenings hosted by the Bradford Queer Film Club, The Unit, and The Bradford Movie Makers. Nightly double bills at Bradford Playhouse are also on the agenda, pairing films like House of Usher (1960) and The Babadook (2014), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and Heat (1995), and Lola Montes (1955) and The Handmaiden (2016).
Commenting on this year’s programme, Sally Folkard, Head of Screen and Cultural Engagement, said: “We are thrilled that Widescreen Weekend Festival is returning this autumn with a packed programme celebrating a diverse range of stories from around the world. This year’s programme is particularly special as it marks the 70th anniversary of CinemaScope, a process which dominated cinema in its golden age.
We’re excited to be opening the festival with a screening of Kaagaz Ke Phool the first South Asian film to be made in CinemaScope, it’s a beautiful film and a real treat for audiences to see in it on the big screen. Our programme allows festivalgoers to be immersed in truly unique cinema experiences, from the film on film to being able to see Cinerama in the last remaining venue in the world to screen it. This year, we’re also excited to be working with so many great local venues and partners and taking Widescreen out on the road.”
The comprehensive Widescreen Weekend program and ticket details can be accessed through the National Science and Media Museum website: https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/cinema/widescreen-weekend
Please note that the National Science and Media Museum is presently closed to the public until the summer of 2024, undergoing a £6 million transformative project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and contributions from National Lottery players. This endeavour, named the Sound and Vision project, will usher in two new galleries, an additional passenger lift, and an enhanced foyer space. During this closure period, Pictureville Cinema and Bar will remain operational seven days a week, offering an enriched selection of film screenings.