The Ballerina Ballroom - Cinema of Dreams

inveran nairn

glebe end nairn

boath stables nairn

greenlawns nairn

In August 2008, Nairn experienced a unique event. A crumbling and musty old building was transformed by a team of volunteers to become, once again, The Ballerina Ballroom - the Cinema of Dreams. It was the venue for a truly remarkable event in which Tilda Swinton, Mark Cousins and John Byrne staged a film festival quite unlike any other. What could be so special about re-runs of old films? Some struggled with the concept of a Cinema of Dreams and were equally puzzled that the seating would be bean-bags and entry would be free in exchange for a tray of fairy cakes. Some even got in free by wearing a kilt one day or pyjamas the next!
(Click photos to enlarge)
ballerina ballroom
But by the end of the week we understood. We had bought into the dream. We had entered a magical world with ultra-violet lighting, shiny, twinkling stars and spinning ballroom globes. The Cinema of Dreams gave us permission to be children again; to experience the sense of wonder and eager anticipation we thought we had lost long ago. We chatted with strangers not knowing who they were or where they were from - holiday-maker, movie star or film columnist. It didn't matter. As the spotlight swept across the audience, lounging in bean-bags or reclining in deck chairs, rousing music raised our spirits and we knew this would be one of life's unforgettable moments.
Tilda then announces, "Welcome to The State of Cinema". Just being there was almost more important than watching a film. This was no multiplex cinema with clever computer generated special effects. This was real. The actors left the screen and moved among us. We clapped, we laughed and we cheered never considering for one moment that they couldn't hear us. So thank you Tilda and Mark. Thanks to all who helped you share your dreams. You inspired us. We rediscovered our childhood and were held spell-bound by the magic of cinema. Now we understand. Now we also know what it is to dream.
state of cinema
The short video below is our tribute to The Cinema of Dreams team. For those who were there, a reminder of a special time. For those who couldn't be there, we hope you'll experience some of the magic and understand why the people of Nairn desperately hope that the Cinema of Dreams will one day return - and one day might even come to your home town. In the words of Brian Cox, "It's time to give cinema back to the people". Sorry we can't show you a film as well! This video was the last short film to appear on the screen at the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams on 23rd August 2008.

Would you like to contribute to research into the Ballerina Ballroom - Cinema of Dreams film festival, Nairn, 2008? The following short survey invites you to share your memories of the festival and other experiences of cinema-going. The results will be used in on-going post-graduate research at King's College, London and for the Edinburgh International Audiences Conference, 2009.

Survey Form here

Visit the new Cinema of Dreams web site