What's Your Favourite Film-Going Memory?

From the first roars of Jurassic Park to queuing in the snow for Grease, programmers behind Cinema Day 2017 recall their best big screen experiences ahead of a Bank Holiday Monday filled with movie magic

Most of us will have a favourite film experience that is now etched in our memories forever. Mine is being sat poolside in the mid noughties at Brockwell Lido in South East London, watching an outdoor screening of The Lost Boys. I’ll never forget watching the opening sequence of the camera gliding over the ocean whilst I dipped my toes in the pool below me. Unforgettable.

Film can capture our imagination, bring us into another world and take us away from the many stresses or strains of life. Ahead of Cinema Day on Monday August 28, when venues across Northern Ireland host special one-off screenings for every age group, Culture NI asks some of the event’s key contributors to share their favourite film experience. From much-loved classics to more modern titles, there are a whole variety of favourite film experiences shared.

Rachael Campbell-Palmer, Black Box, Belfast

Screening The Jungle Book (1967) 2.00pm at Belfast Community Circus School – tickets £3 per person/£10 for family of four (£8.50 for Black Box Members)

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'One of the most memorable screening experiences I can think of was when we showed Little Shop of Horrors at Connswater Community Garden last September. It was a Black Moon Film Club event, our relaxed BMFC inclusive screenings specifically for audiences with autism or learning disabilities. We screened it on a Saturday evening and had hot soup available. People brought picnic blankets and flasks of tea, and huddled up inside a poly tunnel. Not only was the screening special because of the experience of being outside amongst the plants watching the movie, but a lot of the neighbourhood kids came along and watched it with us too.'

Little Shop of Horrors

Teri Kelly, Movie House Cinemas

Screening Mary Poppins (1964) 11.00am at Movie House Cityside (Belfast), Maghera and Coleraine – tickets £1.50 (book at box office) and grandparents go free

'My favourite cinema experience was watching A Goofy Movie! It may sound a 'goofy' choice but it was the first movie I took my daughter to see. She wasn’t even two years old and I had no idea what she’d think of it. We went to Movie House Cityside – still Yorkgate back then – and it was amazing to see her reaction. Movies are such a great thing to enjoy as a family and it’s something that we still love doing.'

Jim McClean, Banterflix

Hosting panel discussion What Is The Cinematic Experience in the 21st Century? 6.30pm at Strand Arts Centre, Belfast – tickets £3 (under 18s free)

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'My fondest cinematic memory will always be the first time I saw Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park on the big screen. It was 1993, I was on my school holidays and my mother had reluctantly agreed to take to see this ‘silly film about dinosaurs’ at my local family run cinema back home in Omagh, I was ten years old and whilst I maybe didn’t know it at the time, the moment I first saw that T-Rex appear on screen was the moment I think I fell in love with cinema…

'Ever since then I’ve held an unrelenting passion for cinema and the pure escapism it offers for the cost of admission. As an only child growing up in Tyrone those weekly trips to the cinema will always hold a very special place in my heart: the smell of the popcorn, the clickety click of the projector wiring away throughout the screening and just losing myself for an hour or two as I watched the drama unfold on the big screen.'

Jurassic Park

Aaron Guthrie, New Notions

Screening a double bill of Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach (2016) and I, Daniel Blake (2016) 5.00pm and 7.00pm at the Ormeau Baths, 18 Ormeau Avenue, Belfast

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'A film that had a big effect on me is The Act of Killing, a documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer. It's about a genocide in Indonesia in the '60s. The Indonesian military killed over one million communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. The killers have not been held to account for their actions, they are even glorified by the government and in the media.

'The director used very interesting techniques to involve these death squad executioners in the film; they're asked to orchestrate imaginative re-enactments of the events they were a part of. It's a dizzying, surreal film. The film is so memorable that I go back to rewatch it often. It broke all kinds of 'rules' of documentary film.'

Billie Phipps Tyndall, Rostrevor Aurora Community Cinema

Screening The Quiet Man (1952) 7.00pm in the Parish Meeting Room, Church Street, Rostrevor – tickets £5

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'One of my favourite film-going experiences was watching Coffee in Berlin at Freiluftkino Friedrichshain, a midsummer open-air cinema in a forest in Berlin. I loved the juxtaposition between the cosmopolitan coffee-drinking characters and the natural scenery of the venue. There were fairy lights in the trees as we walked through the forest and the screen was surrounded by trees. I could smell popcorn and pine in the air, and when rain started to fall towards the end of the film, the audience huddled together, committed to watching until the credits.'


Peter Murray, Into Film Belfast

'Cardboard Box Office' screening of The Lego Batman Movie (2017) 12.00pm (cinema building) 1.00pm (film) at Ulidia Resource Centre, Somerset Street, Belfast, BT7 2GS

Event now sold out

'One of my favourite cinema-going experiences is also one of my earliest memories of going to the cinema. I went to see Waking Ned with my parents and siblings while we were holidaying in Ballina one summer. I really can’t remember if I found the film funny at all, but it’s a memorable experience for me because of the way my parents reacted to the film; they found it hysterical, and as a child seeing your parents having such a great time watching something, their joy can be infectious even if you don’t quite understand the joke. I think that highlights the beauty of going to the cinema with family or friends.'

Ruairi Campbell, participant in Young Film Programmers at the Nerve Centre

Screening Good Vibrations (2013) followed by live music by Lost Avenue from 6.30pm – free admission

'For me it has to be seeing Alien on the big screen recently. It was part of a double bill where they showed Prometheus and then Alien right after – the prequel then the original. I always loved Alien because it’s just pure horror sci-fi, and I thought seeing that in the cinema, in complete darkness with the surround sound would be a legendary experience, and it was. It did everything for me. It showed that with special effects, anything that’s practically made always looks more real. I’ll never forget the John Hurt chest-burster scene.'

Johnny Ray Brolly, participant in Young Film Programmers at the Nerve Centre

'I was about five years old when I saw Spider-Man 2 and it was one of the first big movies I ever went to see. The cinema in Dungiven didn't get much business and was on its way out. It was still using celluloid film projection. But I was mad about Spider-Man; I had the first one on VHS and was really hyped for the new one. I remember going to see it and loving the spectacle of it, even though it was only a small cinema. There were kids putting their fingers in front of the projector and making shadow puppets, and my brother was scared of the villain. That was the film that planted the seed for my love of cinema.'

Mimi Turtle, Strand Arts Centre, Belfast

Screening The Passion of Joan Arc (1928) with live score by Heliopause and This Ship Argo at 8.15pm – tickets £8 (under 18s free)

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'The summer of 1993 we returned from the Costa Blanca to a particularly dreich Belfast July.  But there were no post-holiday blues, for this was the perfect cinema going weather and Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park had just been released. We felt like we had been waiting on this movie forever; the pre-release marketing for the film started about six months earlier (because of the long post-production CGI work the film required) and it seemed like every retailer had gone dinosaur mad (we'd been eating dinosaur breakfast cereal for at least two months)! The trailer included teaser footage of a T-Rex foot planted in the mud and a shadow of a Philosoraptor, but no big money shots of these amazing dinosaurs Spielberg had created – we knew we wouldn’t get to see these until they were as large as life on the big screen and we simply could not wait.

'Accompanied by my two sisters and three cousins (who had been the previous week and jumped at the chance of a second viewing) we set off to the Strand Cinema in East Belfast. I remember sitting in Screen 1 with a full house of 250 other expectant teens and adults. The collective wonder, euphoria and adrenaline were palpable as the storyline developed. It was also the first time I really noticed the impact a great score could make to a film. Such was the overall experience we had – along with the rest of the theatre - that we sat through the full closing credits, still in awe of what we had experienced.'

Nichola Clarke, Into Film Belfast

Screening The Wizard of Oz (1939) in collaboration with Strand Arts Centre at 4.15pm – free admission

'It’s a Wonderful Life at Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast. My fiancé and I had our first date at a screening of Charlie Chaplin shorts in the Waterfront Hall with the Ulster Orchestra providing the score (a close second in my favourite movie going experience). The following year the QFT screened It’s a Wonderful Life on the same date, so we went. For years the QFT continued to screen it on this date and we always go when we can. Despite being a seasonal film, It's a Wonderful Life is my favourite movie and all year long I look forward to watching it at least once in December.'

Thomas Robinson, The Picture House, Ballyclare 

Screening Jimmy's Hall (2014) 3.00pm at the Picture House Cinema, Ballyclare – 20 tickets available to book on a voluntary donation basis via Eventbrite

'My favourite film experience is watching The Third Man at Burg Kino in Vienna, Austria. The Third Man is set and filmed in Vienna but the city is also a character in the film. The locations still exist and after going to see this classic movie you can literally walk the sewers, have coffee in the Café Mozart and ride the Ferris wheel that are featured. Never have I felt so absorbed in a film as this.

'I forgot how funny it is, how Orson Wells is such a major character but is also so absent from the film (possibly its theme) and how even though we know there are characters that are less than honest, we end up liking and rooting for them during the chase scenes! It was an amazing movie from start to finish, well shot and deeply enjoyable. Not bad for a 68 year-old film!'


Lorraine Magee, Into Film Belfast

'My favourite film experience was Grease many moons ago, in a cinema in the '70s on Royal Avenue. It was so special because it was a musical and the music was so popular then, as were the clothes Olivia Newton John wore. I also love John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. From what I remember, I was allowed to go with my friends and older cousin (no parents!). It was so cold; in fact, it was snowing, and we queued for four hours to get in. But I didn’t care... I was so excited! There were five children in our family so we couldn’t afford the cinema. My mum gave me and my little sister money to buy a John Travolta poster and on our way home she dropped it on the road and John Travolta had oil splashed over his face. She still hung it on her wall and it made us laugh for years to come.'

Check out the programme for Cinema Day and be part of a great celebration of film across Northern Ireland. It will be a perfect opportunity to make memories of your own, or add to an existing list of favourite film experiences. For the full list of events and latest details go to www.filmhubni.org/whats-on. Get involved on the day with the hashtag #CinemaDay17.