Futurist film to be shown on Friday

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A SHORT documentary about the Futurist Theatre is to be screened by Scarborough Film Society on Friday.

The 20-minute video by local filmmaker and journalist Steve Hill will be shown before the main feature, The Illusionist, at the library.

It was produced for the campaigners seeking to have the Futurist listed as a building of historical and architectural interest, amid fears that the Foreshore theatre could soon face demolition.

It focuses on the steady loss of Scarborough’s irreplaceable historical and architectural treasures over the past few decades.

Scarborough Film Society secretary Tony Davison said: “Our main feature on Friday is quite short. It’s an 80-minute comedy animation set in Scotland and based on a script by the great French director Jacques Tati.

“I’d seen Steve’s documentary, which is very interesting, so I thought it would be a good idea to screen it first as an appetiser.

“We’re always happy to see people who are not regular members. If people want to pop in who are mainly interested in the Futurist or in Scarborough issues, then we hope they’ll stay for the main film but we won’t twist their arms!”

The Futurist campaigners are appealing against a decision in May by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to refuse a listing after considering a recommendation by English Heritage.

Mr Hill scripted, filmed and edited his video The Shows Must Go On! in just over a week. He was helped by campaigners Diana Tasker and Patricia David, who had mounted an exhibition about the Futurist while the listing application was being considered.

He said: “I was asked by the organisers to make a film of the exhibition shortly after they had been told that the listing application had been rejected. The idea was to submit a DVD as part of the appeal.

“An exhibition, of course, is a very static thing, not terribly well suited to filming so I decided to focus on the broader picture of the way in which Scarborough’s architectural and historical assets have been lost over the years.

“It’s basically a direct appeal to the Department of Culture to reverse its decision rather than a straightforward documentary. I had to make it in a matter of a very few days with limited materials and a very bad head cold, which made the voice-over work quite difficult,” Mr Hill said.

“It is a bit rough around the edges here and there but on the whole I think it gives a fair summary of the arguments in favour of the listing and preservation of the theatre.

“It also corrects some misconceptions. From the reasons given for refusal of a listing, the department clearly thought that the Futurist was simply an ordinary building put up for local businessman Will Catlin from plans drawn up by an ordinary local architect.

“In fact Catlin was not from Scarborough. He was the most popular entertainer in Britain in his day and a pivotal figure in the history of entertainment, theatre and cinema in the UK. The architect, Frank Tugwell, was well-known for theatres he designed all over Britain, including the listed art-deco interior of London’s Savoy Theatre and several other listed theatres,” said Mr Hill.

“The Futurist has a wonderfully elaborate well-preserved façade hidden by the exterior cladding. It is the fifth biggest theatre outside London and the only one of comparable size on the whole of the east coast of England. It would be a terrible tragedy to lose it.”

Scarborough Film Society meets at 7.30pm on alternate Fridays from September to May in the library’s large, first-floor music room.

Among the 19 films showing this season are the Cohn brothers’ new adaptation of True Grit and Mike Leigh’s latest movie Another Year, starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville.