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Electric Picture Palace in Southwold Suffolk


In these days of vast multiplexes with a dozen screens and digital streaming, the independent cinema was supposed to fade away into non-existence. Happily, the independents haven’t read the script and over the last decade their numbers have actually swelled by 13%, bringing the magic of the silver screen to packed houses across Suffolk.
Independent cinemas in SuffolkThe Electric Picture Palace in Southwold is one of the most stylish independent cinemas in Suffolk
Photo (c) Hello Romance Photography
The title of Suffolk’s oldest independent cinema belongs to Leiston Film Theatre, which opened in 1914 and has traded continuously ever since. Despite its age the cinema has not been left behind, and currently boasts Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround EX sound, and Dolby 3D projection. It’s a long way from the days of the three colour projector.
Aldeburgh Cinema is one of the oldest cinemas in the county; the auditorium has been screening films since 1919 and the era of the silent movies. It was threatened with closure in the 1960s, until a group of locals (including Benjamin Britten) banded together to purchase the cinema and run it for the community. As well as feature films, Aldeburgh screens live transmissions from (amongst others) the Royal Opera House, The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the National Theatre. It’s also the centre of the Aldeburgh Documentary Film Festival, where filmmakers such as David Attenborough, Melvyn Bragg, and Louis Theroux have come to introduce their work to full houses.
The Electric Picture Palace in Southwold is named after the very first Southwold cinema which once stood in York Road. Opened in May 2002, it is owned and run by Southwold Film Society. The showings are run in seasons, with short breaks in between each one. It’s also one of the few cinemas in the country that holds a Wedding Licence, providing a unique backdrop to a couple’s happy day!
Screen in the Barn is located in the small village of Thrandeston, close to Eye in the north of Suffolk. The auditorium, as the name suggests, is a barn. Seating is provided by a selection of stacking chairs, while gas fires and a wood stove add warmth to the venue. It’s a true rustic cinema experience, and all the more special for it.


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