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Ceiber Challenge - Opening Night

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 15:50 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

There was double excitement at the Penrhiwceiber Institute this week starting with news that Hollywood star Michael Sheen will be paying a very special visit to the hall to take part in a Q&A session with the public.

The Newport-born actor, who grew up in Port Talbot, has appeared in hit films from The Twilight Saga: New Moon and Frost/Nixon to The Damned United and Tron: Legacy.

As a special event during a Welsh film festival underway at the Institute to mark the return of the cinema there, Michael will answer questions from the audience before the screening of the classic film Tiger Bay on Saturday 12 March.

Michael Sheen

Michael Sheen

Sheen commented: "The Penrhiwceiber Institute has a glorious and inspiring history. I want to do everything I can to help the Hall's trustees and all the work that Communities First are doing for it to once again take its rightful place at the heart of the community."

As if that wasn't enough, it was also the grand re-opening of the cinema after almost 25 years and, despite pouring rain, there was a queue of customers snaking around the corner of the building - just like the picture house's glory days.

It was a dream come true for the small team of volunteers and community workers who had spent more than a year getting the project off the ground.

The cinema-goers braved the weather on opening night

The cinema-goers braved the weather on opening night

The opening night recaptured the heyday of the cinema with all the ushers and usherettes wearing 1940s costumes made by a drama group based at the hall - the Ultimate Stage Company. The usherettes also had retro hair and make-up thanks to local hairdressers and make-up artists who donated their time.

The usherettes getting ready for the grand opening


The usherettes preparing for the grand opening

The usherettes preparing for the grand opening

More than 220 people packed out the cinema, including familiar faces Roy Noble, who officially opened the festival, High Hopes' Boyd Clack and Pobol y Cwm actress Donna Edwards.

BBC Radio Wales' Roy Noble

BBC Radio Wales' Roy Noble

There was also a good luck message from Hollywood courtesy of Welsh actor Matthew Rhys, whose film The Edge Of Love is being shown during the festival.

He said: “I’ve been very impressed by what you have planned. I know you’re showing a particularly good film on March 4th, I’m just sorry I can’t be there to watch it with you!”

Matthew Rhys

Matthew Rhys

As the audience watched the 1941 film How Green Was My Valley, Lucy and Rhodri caught up with chairman of the trustees Ron Blacker. As a boy in the 1940s, Ron’s job was to play gramophone records before the films began.

He said: “If you can think 65 years ago as a little lad, I was putting the music on and then I saw the cinema shut, it nearly went derelict. But and all of a sudden it’s back to life again, it’s wonderful.”

Tickets for the Michael Sheen event (Saturday 12 March, 2pm) cost £2 for adults and £1 for children and concessions, and can be reserved by calling 01443 473711 (9am-12noon weekdays) or 01443 476750 (12noon to 4pm).

The film festival continues until the end of March. Upcoming films include:

  • Twin Town (15), Friday 11 March, 7pm
  • Tiger Bay (PG), Saturday 12 March, 2pm (includes special pre-film Q&A session with actor Michael Sheen, star of blockbusters including: The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Frost/Nixon and Tron: Legacy.)
  • House! (15) Friday 18 March, 7pm
  • Prince Valiant (U), Saturday 19 March, 2.30pm
  • Legends of the Fall (15), Friday 25 March, 7pm
  • The Vikings (PG), Saturday 26 March, 2.30pm


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