Sinema'r Byd (World Cinema) - Bringing the world to Blaenau Ffestiniog through film, drink and food. At a time when we can’t travel, what better way to escape than through the world of film? Led by youth project Gwallgofiad, Sinema CellB has persevered through the pandemic and is back in business with a movie take-away box and brand new second screen named after Rhys Ifans, who has been working with the group since lockdown. This is all offered all at affordable prices and in a safe space designed to support the local community.
Sinema'r Byd (World cinema): At a time when we can’t travel, Cellb brings the world to you.
To create a safe space where the community can travel the world through film, at affordable prices, providing a safe place where they can enjoy watching films together.
Cellb is located in an Edwardian police station with a state of the art cinema. With 48 seats, the pandemic created obvious challenges in terms of social distancing. The new ‘Sgrin 2’ is located upstairs in the courtroom, providing a very different add on cinema experience with a flexible seating plan.
I had to find a way to connect our audiences, we had given so much energy to the project that we just had to transform and adapt. I began looking at our Sinema'r Byd concept from 2007 where our cinematic journey began - bringing the world to Blaenau through film, drink and food at a time while we’re unable to travel. We'd chose a country then do a themed menu of food and drinks - something different to buying a DVD, or choosing a film on Netflix. If they can’t come to us, we'd take the movies to them, but with a special all in package. Let’s face it, having a munch and a tipple is such a large part of a cinema outing. Working with Rich from the Isallt Coffee Shop, a retired head chef from The Gherkin in London, we launched the Sinema'r Byd movie take-away box!
To boost positivity and confidence and create an add on cinema experience like no other! To connect people with the world by exploring international culture, bringing the world to Blaenau Ffestiniog by allowing us to travel the planet through film.
To emphasise young people are local assets, to continue training them despite lockdown and to make our cinema screen accessible and affordable to as many young people as possible in our community.
We found a way to bring the joy of cinema to our audience while we were separated, keeping them connected to the world while we were on lockdown and unable to travel,
We boosted positivity and confidence amidst our local community, particularly our young people who benefited from structured virtual meetings, and were also treated to Q&A sessions with Rhys Ifans and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens.
Having already faced the challenges of weather damage in 2019, we adapted yet again in order to survive the pandemic and created a new cinema experience that we’d never tried before, through our take away movie box,
We collaborated with another local business and supported one another at a time of uncertainty.
I am not a Witch
Yu tu Mama Tambien
Isallt Coffe Shop
Lebanos Foods London
Budget in brief
The fact that we could connect to our audiences during lockdown,
We launched a new program at at time of closure.
What has been difficult
Finding large DVD bulk suppliers of world films!
What you would do differently if you did it again
Not have a pandemic
Selected in partnership with our youth groups and partners such as Age Cymru, our choice of films were designed to bring diverse languages, cultures, perspectives, people and attitudes to local audiences in Blaenau. The project itself was also run with the input of our youth groups.
Knowledge & Experience
Gwallgofiaid is a not for profit social enterprise that has been providing creative training for the young people of Blaenau Ffestiniog since 2003. Gwallgofiaid use 2 spaces in Cellb (the old police station of Blaenau) where workshops in creative arts and media are facilitated. The Cinema, owned and run by Gwallgofiaid, is a not for profit initiative and the company’s goal is for the surlpus from the cinema to subsidise the cost of the arts workshops.
In addition to Sinema’r Byd where the group gained access to films from across the world, they recently also led a project where they passed on their artistic skills to a new generation of young people from the town.
Blaenau Ffestiniog is a slate quarry town in the shadows of the Moelwynion mountains in Snowdonia National Park. A popular tourist area, it’s known for walking trails, mountain biking, Llechwedd Slate Caverns and has a strong sense of community. As a largely rural area, the pandemic could have a hugely damaging affect on people who would be isolated by the closure of community services. Sinema’r Byd was all about maintaining a connection with audiences throughout this time, to minimise the impact and keep the community together
The cinema programme creates regular activities for three main groups with the aim of creating social cohesion:
- Young families – parents or carers with children aged 2-6 & 6-12 at matinees
- Young people – young programmers and youths aged 12 16 & 16-25
- Pensioners – collaborating with Age Cymru on ‘Forum’ screenings, Film education / ‘Into Film’ programme for people aged 2 – 25
The cinema team work hard to support audiences of all ages across the community. The Gwallgofiad youth group have been running Clinic TV as part of Clwb Clink. During a recent arts session, they also created a Christmas film and gifts package for the cinema’s regular pensioner’s forum, which included a mixture of films chosen by Age Cymru and Cellb.
Cellb was heavily impacted by extreme weather in 2019, leaving dry rot in the main cinema space. After facing this challenge head on and getting back to business, the pandemic followed shortly after. Income ceased overnight. By creating a collaboration between two local business forced to shut, the project generated imporant income.
What audiences said
"We might not be able to fly to the 4 corners of the earth at the mo so this is wonderful." - Ceri J, Customer
What professionals, press and partners said
“It is a great honor to be part of such an exciting initiative, the Cell B team & Gwallgofiaid is a great example of a community pulling together to create a safe and creative space for the young people of the area.” - Rhys Ifans, Actor
"The role of cinemas in our communities has become even more crucial during the pandemic. CellB continues to put their young creatives first, keeping them connected at a time when they are most at risk of isolation. The opening of screen two, with the invaluable support of Rhys Ifans, is a testament to their hard work and creativity." - Hana Lewis, Film Hub Wales Manager
"The aim of the cinema is to use any profits to subsidise the costs of youth workshops, thus creating a sustainable community system that benefits the general public as well as young people. Past projects have proven that arts workshops often lead to the development of an exciting and successful career in the arts, whether in theatre, music, literature. I am confident that we can repeat this goal again and again". - Rhys Roberts, Cellb