The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes
The Picture House turns 109!
For the last three iterations of the Picture House’s birthday we have celebrated from a strange limbo-like position. First Covid then a building site. We have been unable to mark the occasion in the way we would like; doors open, sharing the day and the space with friends, colleagues, audiences alike.
These are some of the reasons why today feels momentous. We are marking our 109th birthday back in our building and it’s bigger, steadier, and more beautiful than it’s been for many a year. We are also back doing what we love, showing films to people. And, oh gosh, since we opened at the end of June there have been so many wonderful films!
But why then, is there a strangeness to this sort of occasion?
I think there is something in the history of the Picture House, which is so rich, it pours over the brim and fills the cup of those who spend most of their time here. It becomes easy to feel a shared part in the long life of the building, the institution, the work. And there are so many gifts associated with that sense of so much time unfolding so confidently out both before and after one. Principally the sense we have the time to learn, to improve, to change and grow. And I think this is the nub of the hardness of the day when celebrated in the current climate both at home and around the world.
There are too many buildings, too many organisations, but more devastatingly, too many people in this world around us who are not gifted this same opportunity to grow, or even to grow old. How can a 109 cinema possibly navigate that fundamental, horrific, truth and what should it mean for what we do next?
That’s where I have looked to Frank Lloyd Wright’s words today, to make some sense of our role. We, as a team and as the Picture House, can help make that beauty easier to find. That doesn’t mean just sharing beautiful images and beautiful people moving around a silver screen, it’s the stories that are beautiful. Even the difficult ones, the harrowing ones, the tragic ones, there’s humanity in them all. These beautiful stories have the potential to keep us connected to that humanity when the immensity of what is happening around us can make people outside our immediate world feel distant, removed, less than.
So, we are 109. And we are grateful to all the people and organisations who have gotten us here but in our celebration today we hold the beauty and the complexity of the world into which we are ageing and will continue to work to bring that into our work in the years to come.