Electric Palace in top ten UK independent cinemas

The Electric Palace in the Old Town has been named one of the countries top ten independent cinemas.

According to the Guardian newspaper the popular venue in High Street is one among the best places to enjoy a trip to the cinema while avoiding the over-hyped blockbusters.

It was picked out alongside, among others, Nottingham's Screen Room, The Kino in Hawkhurst and The Cube in Bristol.

Being singled out for praise in a national newspaper is big news for the small cinema, which celebrates its fifth birthday this year.

Like many small independent cinemas, the Electric Palace often shows classic films and world cinema, with screenings staffed by volunteers.

It also screens the work of local film-makers and runs a scheme to support budding directors, as well as putting on festivals and art exhibitions.

Considering its humble beginnings the article, which was out last week, was praise indeed for the team behind the Electric Palace.

Co-owner Rebecca Marshall was frustrated at the lack of alternative film venues in the town so decided to do something about it. The results? A thriving venue thought by many to be the jewell in the crown of Hastings cultural renaissance.

She said: "There was just nowhere to show alternative films, so we rented a hall and started it as a cinema.

"It's really cosy and people come here for the atmosphere. We have 1,500 members and it's like a little community.

"Our regulars can come and enjoy a film and chat about it afterwards, and we do film club nights."

Serving wine during screenings, the cinema is popular with movie-goers looking for a more laid back and cultured film experience.

However, it is not just the trendy 30-somethings who flock to the Electric Palace. Oh no. The cinema has a weekly screening aimed exclusively at young film fans. In fact, its Saturday morning pictures has become one of the town's most popular events for kids.

Volunteers also take the films out of the cinema and onto the streets - or rather onto the beach. Last Summer, amid a wave of shark fever, more than 2,000 people gathered on Hastings seafront to watch a big screen version of the classis thriller Jaws.

Independent film fan Gareth Marshall (no relation to Rebecca) alerted the Observer to the story and said he often made the trip down from his London home to visit the Electric Palace.

He said: "I have a real passion for film and have been to a lot of independent cinemas but not many have the charm of the Electric Palace.

"The people who run it deserve all the accolades and the variety of films they put on is enough to intice anyone to the town.

"It deserves to not only be in the top ten but it should be number one."