Photo by Joe Lee
The EMD cinema in Walthamstow, a onetime favourite of local lad Alfred Hitchcock, is threatened with excommunication from the corporeal world: the notorious, not to mention humbly-named, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, bought the building in 2003 and, not content to be a mere lodger, wants to convert it into a church. On Saturday a posse including Blackadder star Tony Robinson and actor Meera Syall met to show their opposition with a candlelit vigil. Hundreds of local cinephiles turned out dressed in Hitchcock masks, calling for the cinema’s non-religious rebirth. Given that too many of London’s cinemas have been lost to religion, bingo halls, or Wetherspoons, the support to save one is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, most welcome.
The McGuffin Film & Television Society, organisers of the campaign, want the church to use an abandoned building next door, and the torn curtains and mothballed popcorn machines of the EMD be returned to their former splendor. The cinema’s future rests on the construction of a nearby multiplex: a redevelopment plan by the church was rejected due to a lack of local cinemas, but the multi-screen behemoth would have smited that obstacle. However, with its fate dangling by a rope, help arrived when the multiplex plan stalled. Despite suspicion that things may yet go the church’s way, for those in Walthamstow there is still hope that the listed cinema may once again play host to spellbound audiences of the future.
Whoever first spots all the laboured Hitchcock references in this piece wins a date with the charmless bore who put it together. The bill’s on you.