feature: Light House Cinema, Smithfield re-opening!1 Comment
New operators, Element Pictures, say they plan to screen the best of international art house and Irish cinema, as well as re-runs of classics and special events. They are, hopefully, starting as they mean to go on, with the programme for this (re)opening weekend includes The Artist and Shame. Other films include Madonna’s W.E. and Clint Eastwood’s latest, J. Edgar.
Their (likely) re-vamped website is not up and running just yet, but you can contact them on twitter @LightHouseD7 or on their Facebook page. They have been up and answering queries, so if you have a question get over there and start following them! If you’re wondering if they’re going to have a loyalty scheme, from their responses this morning it looks like one might possibly be on the cards…
The Light House Cinema has had a slightly chequered history. This particular Light House Cinema first opened in Smithfield in May 2008 under the ownership of Neil Connelly and Maretta Dillion. Dillion and Connelly had run the original Light House Cinema on Middle Abbey Street. That cinema enjoyed a run of 8 years in it’s Abbey Street premises, the art-deco style facade of which can still be made out, till it’s lease ran out in 1996.
The site in Smithfield was then custom-built with 614 seats across 4 screens and areas which could be used for events and exhibitions. The arthouse cinema was heralded as a centre to invigorate the cultural cinema landscape and deliver a greater choice and diversity of films in Dublin. Indeed, the site was designated as a cultural space under the planning permission given for Smithfield Market and some €1.75 million was granted by the state for its development.
Unfortunately the cinema, and Smithfield in general, became a victim of the property crash and in April 2011, The Light House had to close it’s doors again in the wake of a rental dispute with the landlord, Mr. John Flynn of Fusano Properties. Fusano’s properties had been taken over by the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA).
Under NAMA and Fusano Properties a new tenant was sought for the site and happily one has been found in Element Pictures.
Element Pictures is a Irish film and television production company, founded in 2001 by Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe. They have produced such successful Irish films as The Wind That Shakes The Barley and last year’s massive hit, The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson. The company also operates Element Pictures Distribution, who are responsible for the distribution of StudioCanal (formerly Optimum Releasing) films in Ireland.
From the press release for the official launch today, 17th January 2012:
Welcoming the reopening of the Light House, Minister for The Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan said “The Programme for the Government committed us to seek to capture some public good from NAMA buildings for arts and culture facilities. The reopening of the Light House is a tangible expression of that commitment. I believe that this outcome is hugely positive for the arthouse cinema sector, for the Smithfield area and for employment and economic regeneration locally“.
Directors of Element Pictures Andrew Lowe and Ed Guiney are “delighted that the Light House Cinema will be screening films again. We are opening the cinema at the earliest possible opportunity and have lots of ideas, which we will implement over the coming months . We really appreciate the warm support and goodwill we have received following the news and look forward to ensuring that a visit to the Light House is a unique and wonderful experience. We would also like to extend our thanks to the Minister Jimmy Deenihan, the Arts Council and Bord Scannán na hÉireann / Irish Film Board for their support in getting the Light House up and running again”.
Commenting on the news, James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann / Irish Film Board said “The reopening of the Light House brings an important renewal of the Irish exhibition landscape. It will once again provide Dublin audiences with reinvigorated access to the wide range of independently produced films than are currently available. It is our ambition that the Light House will contribute to the growing appetite for independent cinema amongst Irish audiences, in a cinematic environment with the availability of the latest digital equipment.“
Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council, said, “The Arts Council wishes Element Pictures every success in the operation of the Light House cinema. Element Pictures will build on the programming foundations laid by the Light House since its opening and will continue to bring a diverse range of cinema to audiences in Dublin to this fine cinema setting“.