News / The Network


The Network - 14/11/2008


Europa Cinemas Awards 2008 - Best Entrepreneur


LightHouse _ Access Cinema


Supporting "cultural diversity and personal expression in world cinema"

It took almost twelve years for Light House Cinema to be reincarnated in a permanent, custom-built 21st century building as part of the large-scale urban regeneration project at Smithfield Market after operating on the site of the former Curzon Cinema in Dublin's city centre for eight years from 1988 - 1996.

On May 9 of this year, cinema managers Neil Connolly and Maretta Dillon were finally able to open the doors to the four-screen, 600-seat commercially operated cultural cinema, with screens ranging from the intimate 68-seater to a spacious cinema with seating for 277.
The project had been endorsed by the Cultural Cinema Consortium, a strategic partnership of The Arts Council and the Irish Film Board, with a capital grant of €750,000, and the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism provided the vital additional grant of €1 million, prompting the developers Fusano Properties agreeing to stump up the rest of the investment required to complete the project.

In their mission statement, Connolly and Dillon declare that the Light House Cinema is “committed to championing films of quality from original, creative film makers” while passionately supporting “cultural diversity and personal expression in world cinema”. Their aim, they say, is “to firmly establish Light House Smithfield as a springboard for wider distribution of independent, world cinema in Ireland.”

Meanwhile, access>CINEMA, managed by Maretta Dillon during many years and now by Maeve Cooke, is an indispensable element of regional cultural cinema exhibition in Ireland, working with over 60 venues around Ireland, 18 of which screen from 35mm and the rest from DVD.
access>CINEMA's member groups range from professional arts centres to voluntary film societies and exist in various different kinds of venues. 12 of its 35mm screening venues, including Wicklow's Mermaid Arts Centre, the Galway Film Society, Waterford Film For All and Bantry Cinemax have been members of the Europa Cinemas network since 2004.

The key aims of access>CINEMA are “to give local audiences the opportunity to see a range of world cinema, not usually available on commercial cinema screens, to act as an information resource, offering advice and expertise in the area of film programming and technical presentation, to undertake a lobbying/advocacy role within the larger arts and film sector, and to support the work of Irish film makers.”
Recent activities have included a collaboration with the Carlow African Film Festival; a special screening of the Irish film Anton at the Clones Film Festival; and a partnership with Waterford Film For All in the French Film Festival at Waterford's Storm Cinemas.

Pictures (from left):
Neil Connolly, Maretta Dillon, Light House, Claude-Eric Poiroux, Éoin Hayes (access), Mermaid Arts (Wicklow)