The history of the unique Tyneside Cinema has been brought to life through the eyes of people who have shared its journey over the past eight decades

A new documentary telling the story of Cinema in the UK is set to premiere at Tyneside Cinema, in Newcastle next week. The Dream Palace has been created as a celebration of the Newcastle-based Tyneside Cinema, the only surviving Newsreel Cinema still operating in the UK, to mark its landmark 80th anniversary in 2017. It was originally built in 1937, as Newcastle’s News Theatre.

Funded by National Lottery players through a £59,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant as part of a wider cinema audiences project, the film brings the history of Tyneside Cinema to life through the eyes of people who have been part of its journey over the last 80 years. The film not only celebrates the Tyneside Cinema’s unique heritage and place in the history of the city, but takes a wider look at the history of cinema-going across the UK.

The project saw the Tyneside engage with people both in the cinema, wider community settings and beyond to capture their stories through workshops interviews and online crowdsourcing. These excerpts were then produced into a series of short films which were screened before feature films throughout 2017 at the Tyneside, as well as the feature-length documentary which premieres next week.

The final film was directed by Alex Ayre a graduate of Tyneside Cinema’s education, training and production programme, whose previous work has been showcased by Channel 4’s Random Acts and BBC Fresh. It combines these personal anecdotes with archive footage to show how cinema has evolved over the decades, from the Newsreel era of the 30s and 40s, to the impact of television, from the emergence of the arthouse scene and cult followings for world cinema and LGBTQ films, to the arrival of multiplexes and the loss of local cinemas.

Stories range from Mary recalling the luxury of going to the cinema in the Forties and Fifties, Sue discovering the sanctuary of the Tyneside for LGBTQ films in the Eighties, Jack’s emotional first journey to a galaxy far, far away, and Yolanda and Ignacio’s happy discovery of the “really weird” Tyneside Cinema when they first moved to Newcastle.

The film also goes behind the scenes with former staff members, including past chief executive Peter Packer, British Council film director Briony Hanson, and the Royal Exchange Theatre’s executive director Mark Dobson, as well as leading figures in film today, such as filmmakers Ken Loach and Mark Cousins, actress Andrea Riseborough, and the late filmmaker Derek Jarman’s partner Keith Collins, who met at Tyneside Cinema during a Lesbian and Gay film festival in the Eighties.

Producer of The Dream Palace Ian Fenton says: “Each story serves to add a unique and personal perspective of these pertinent moments in cinema history, as well as emphasising the importance of individual and collective cinema experiences, especially at a time when this experience faces new challenges from the quality and accessibility of home entertainment and online streaming. It reminds us of the important role cinema has played and continues to play in society, the power of shared experience and that coming together to watch films will always be a relevant and important thing to do.”

“The Dream Palace has been a unique opportunity for our audience to contribute to a lasting artefact that captures a sense of what Tyneside Cinema, and cinema-going is, and what it means to people across the North-East and beyond,” adds Tyneside Cinema chief executive Holli Keeble. “The film tells some great stories, and provides some fascinating insights into the history of cinema and that of Tyneside Cinema. We are extremely proud not only of our cinema’s wonderful history but also of the vital and relevant role it continues to play in the communities we serve, creating many more happy memories for years to come."

  • * The Dream Palace has its UK premiere at Tyneside Cinema on Wednesday, February 28, before opening to the general public at Tyneside on Friday, March 2. The film will then tour regionally, and be entered into major film festivals before it is finally made available online. To find out more and book tickets for the screenings at Tyneside Cinema, visit Tickets are £4.80.

A selection of links to some of the short films used in The Dream Palace are available to view below:

• Sue’s Story - Sue recalls a time before the LGBT+ community was accepted in society, and the sanctuary which the Tyneside Cinema provided.

• Mary’s Cinema Story - Mary recalls strong memories of newsreels during WWII.

• Yolanda and Ignacio’s Cinema Story - Yolanda and Ignacio remember first moving to Newcastle and discovering Tyneside Cinema.

• Vivek’s Cinema Story - Vivek remembers his first cinema visits in Bangalore, where audience participation in films is very popular.

• Mark Cousin’s Picture Palace - Director and film historian Mark Cousins talks about his favourite Picture Palace.

Tyneside Cinema 10 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6QG. T: 0191-227-5500; W: