On Saturday February 20, CellB’s second cinema screen was officially opened by The Amazing Spiderman & Kingsman star Rhys Ifans, in a virtual livestream event. The screen has even been named after him as a gesture of appreciation for all his community youth work during the pandemic.
CellB is run by Gwallgofiad, a not-for-profit social enterprise that has been providing creative training for the young people of Blaenau Ffestiniog since 2003. Situated in the old police station, it has been a hub of activity over the years, hosting a range of gigs and youth projects, then expanding into a hostel, bar, restaurant and now most recently, a cinema.
Free Creative Arts at Clwb Clinc
Owner and Blaenau local Rhys Roberts has always believed in broadening the horizons for young people, a core value behind CellB’s Clwb Clinc, a Welsh language youth club providing a range of free creative arts and media workshops.
When the pandemic first struck in spring 2020, these workshops had to move online. Members still benefited from structured virtual meetings and were also treated to Q&A sessions with Rhys Ifans and Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens. Since his first zoom appearance in May last year, Rhys Ifans proved a hit with the kids, forming a lasting mentorship and inspiring them to create their own videos, as well as committing to support future creative projects for the youths.
Thanks to support from Art Council Wales, Community Foundation Wales, Cist Gwynedd, Ffilm Cymru Wales and Film Hub Wales as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN), made possible by the National Lottery, this creative energy fueled Clwb Clinc’s reopening in August 2020, where the team worked together to reshuffle its priorities, namely asking the question, how to keep a cinema open in a socially distanced world?
It soon became clear that space was extremely important, with many of the locals having expressed concern about revisiting the cinema due to being in proximity with others. It was decided that the upstairs courtroom, previously used for social events, would become the second screen, with its large space providing room for flexibility both in terms of functions and audience seating. This includes six ‘creative pods’ where the young people can also work on their projects outside of screen time.
Diverse Programme of Films at Cell B
The aim of the cinema is to use any profits to subsidise the costs of these youth workshops, thus creating a sustainable community system that benefits the public as well as young people. Training opportunities in box office and projection skills will also be provided, with the long-term goal of securing future work in the industry.
A diverse programme of films is currently being put together, featuring films from around the world as well as much loved classics including Spirited Away Pain and Glory and Capernaum.
The ‘Rhys Ifans Sgrin 2’ was opened with a live-stream event. Rhys Ifans said: “it is a great honor to be part of such an exciting initiative, the Cell B team & Gwallgofiaid is a great example of a community pulling together to create a safe and creative space for the young people of the area.”