Widescreen Weekend Film Festival Returns with a Focus on CinemaScope’s 70th Anniversary

Photo by GR Stocks

Widescreen Weekend film festival will return for its 27th edition this autumn with a programme showcasing the pioneering process of CinemaScope, marking its 70th anniversary.

From Thursday 28 September – Monday 2 October, festivalgoers can experience a blend of classic and contemporary film, showcasing the widescreen aspect ratio using Bradford’s Pictureville Cinema’s world-class projection facilities and highly skilled projectionists. With exclusive talks from industry leaders, alongside glorious print screenings, Cinerama restorations and more, Widescreen Weekend aims to reignite our love for the magical experience of going to the movies.

New additions to the festival’s huge lineup include a very special 70mm screening of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015), which was shot in Ultra Panavision 70 for the first time in nearly 50 years and given a very limited roadshow-style release eight years ago.

The festival is also delighted to add Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018) to the bill. This landmark piece of cinematic storytelling in black and white will be shown on 70mm in an exclusive screening.

Local CinemaScope classic Billy Liar (1963) has also been announced, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and was filmed in Bradford. Festivalgoers can also see a brand new 35mm print of the momentous Rebel Without a Cause (1955), part of the BFI’s Keep Film on Film campaign, this will be only the second time this print of the film has been shown.

This year’s festival will pay homage to CinemaScope, a process that dominated cinema in the 1950s and 1960s. The process was created in reaction to the growth of television, with the aim to entice audiences back to the cinema with a more immersive viewing experience.

The festival will open with a rare screening of Kaagaz Ke Phool or Paper Flowers (1959), the first South Asian film to be in CinemaScope. This heartfelt story is told in black and white and was widely considered to be ahead of its time.

Other key titles include screenings of The Robe (1953), the first film to be released in CinemaScope, and Lady and the Tramp (1955), the first animation using the process. The festival will also spotlight international adaptations of the process, including the French ‘Franscope’, with a screening of The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), as well as Japan’s ‘TohoScope’, with The Hidden Fortress (1958).

Celebrating some of the trailblazing actors of this era of cinema, the Queens of the Scope Age strand will spotlight Joanne Woodward, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, and Hideko Takamine, with screenings of No Down Payment (1957), Guys and Dolls (1955), Bonjour Tristesse (1958), and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960).

On Saturday 30 September, the festival will also host its first overnight movie marathon. Festivalgoers can experience all three of the extended cuts of The Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back. This not to be missed event will show the films on Pictureville Cinema’s unique curved Cinerama screen, the last of its kind in the world, providing a truly unique and immersive experience.

With Pictureville Cinema now the only place in the world to see Cinerama, the festival programme will feature opportunities to see this cinematic spectacle in both analogue and digital formats. There will be a series of one-off Cinerama screenings, including Windjammer: The Voyage of Christian Radich (1958) and This is Cinerama (1952).

This year the festival will also be heading out into the city, with a series of partner screenings, including an earlier screening of The Greatest Showman (2017) as part of Saltaire Festival on Friday 8 September.

Festivalgoers can also see The Iron Giant (1999) at Bradford Cathedral, as well as partner screenings with Bradford Queer Film Club, The Unit, and The Bradford Movie Makers. There will also be nightly double bills at Bradford Playhouse, including 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 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 full Widescreen Weekend programme and tickets are available on the National Science and Media Museum website: https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/cinema/widescreen-weekend

The National Science and Media Museum is currently closed to the public until summer 2024 to undergo a £6m once-in-a-generation transformation. Thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and money raised by National Lottery players, the major Sound and Vision project will create two new galleries, an additional passenger lift and an enhanced foyer space.

Throughout the period of closure, Pictureville Cinema and Bar will remain open seven days a week with an enhanced programme of film screenings.