First film screening on Hastings pier

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The first film screening on Hastings pier’s open air cinema will take place tomorrow (May 12).

Last week the new the gates of the swung open to the public for the first time since it was devastated by fire in 2010.

Visitors smiled as they stepped onto the new, rain washed decking, re-claiming pieces of the past and embracing a brighter future for the pier.

On social media, smiling ‘me on the new pier’ selfies jostled with old photos of days gone by.

Few are more aware of the significance of Hastings Pier’s return to life than BAFTA Award-winning director Archie Lauchlan, who started filming the run-down, quirky pier when he moved to Hastings in 2006.

“Everybody loves piers,” he says. “They’re focal points for our seaside memories: days of fun, fancy and freedom.”

In the case of Hastings Pier, it wasn’t just the days that were fun.

As the sun set on the ‘kiss me quick’ hat stalls, Hastings pier started to rock.

From 1956-2006 a grand parade of pop royalty: Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Kinks, T-Rex, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and Nick Cave, superstar DJs Carl Cox and Sasha all played the ballroom at the end of the pier.

But the music stopped as Hastings pier, like many others, deteriorated into a sad monument to the demise of the British seaside resort.

Archie’s film, Re: A Pier, documents the pier’s community-led salvation over a decade, during which the film-maker forged a close relationship with some of the characters who lived, loved, worked and played there over the years.

The film weaves together funny, strange, sad and happy pier stories, creating a sparkling, humorous and nostalgic portrait of the pier and town.

But it’s the musical stories that form the spine of this life-affirming documentary, with memories, archive footage and memorabilia shared by those who count themselves lucky to have been at those legendary gigs in the ballroom at the end of Hastings Pier.

The pier re-opens in what is a big year for Hastings. It’s 950 years since the most famous battle in history took place, and celebrations are afoot this Autumn, including Root 1066, a major international arts festival.

Just up the road from the pier, The Source, the largest underground bike and skate park has just opened in the former derelict Victorian baths and the town is buzzing with the optimism and excitement of its cultural renaissance.

“Young people in the town often don’t realise that Hastings was cool. Seriously cool”, says Archie.

“But this film is a chance to show them that some of the best bands in the world played here.”

The famous ballroom at the end of the pier may be gone, but Hastings Pier’s platinum musical credentials are rising from its ashes.

New audiences (and some old ones) will be rocking to Madness, the Happy Mondays, the Orb and the Levellers on the pier this May.

Tickets had already sold out before the pier re-opened.

Re: A Pier will be the first ever screening on Hastings pier’s open air cinema tomorrow Thursday, May 12) at 7pm.

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