In 2006 Steve McClaren became England manager, Nintendo’s Wii was released, Radio One DJ Alan Freeman died, Daniel Craig made his first appearance as James Bond, and the Ritz Cinema opened in Belper.
This was thanks to the passion and vision of Amanda Mundin and Neil Roberts who, at the time, worked in the film industry.
The building dates from 1882 when it was Belper Town Hall and Law Court. Films were shown there, on a part time basis, from 1919.
In time it became a twin screen cinema until it closed it’s doors permanently in 1991.
That’s how it stood until Amanda and Neil came along with a determination to restore the Ritz and give it an individuality and personality.
Amanda said: “The Ritz is more than the films we show. It’s about the people who walk through the doors. It’s unbelievable that ten years have passed. We’re already planning for the next ten years.”
To many the opening of the Ritz was a catalyst to the rebirth of Belper, particularly in arts and entertainment.
The past ten years have seen trials and tribulations but these have been far outweighed by the successes.
Many incredible films, from what is usually an eclectic programme, have been supplemented by events, usually hosted by Andy Minion, guests, and members screenings.
Satellite shows are hugely popular with screenings of theatre, ballet and exhibitions regularly selling out.
The Silver Screen, introduced by Ashley Franklin each Thursday has queues up the street from 8am.
Thanks to the Ritz, students and their parents from Belper Film School have seen their films on the big screen.
Celebrating ten years of the Ritz doesn’t involve a big bash. The ‘Ritzy’s’ return in an unabashed celebration of cinema. The French Film Festival features three wonderful movies and French cheeses!
Remembrance day is marked with a special showing of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Belper town windband will play before a showing of The Queen of Katwe. It is here that I must declare an interest.
I was asked to contribute a short play and suggest a film for the evening of November 20. The film is Brief Encounter, David Lean’s fourth collaboration with Noel Coward and recently voted the most romantic film of all time.
The short play that precedes it, We’ll Call You, involves two actresses waiting to audition for Still Life, the Coward play on which Brief Encounter is based.
To top it all the foyer will be turned into a 1940’s railway station cafe.
Throughout November and December competitions to win a variety of Ritz related prizes will be underway. It has been a remarkable success story due not only to the ‘cinema’ but also to the staff who make a visit very personable. Thanks Ritz! Here’s to the next ten years.
Full details of films and events can be found at www.ritz-belper.co.uk. Alternatively, telephone 01773 822224 or pick up a brochure at the Ritz Cinema, King Street, Belper.