The message “This place is run by amateurs!” flashes up in large letters before films are shown at Wallingford Corn Exchange Cinema and there is some truth in the joke. All of the people who work inside the Grade II-listed cinema are volunteers; only the cleaner receives wages.
It’s about time that the passionate cinema fans who run the plush red-seated cinema got some overdue praise so I was heartened to read that the Corn Exchange is the subject of an article in the Cine-files section of the Guardian newspaper.
The Cine-files column allows readers to nominate their favourite cinema and Wallingford software consultant Peter Bispham has nominated the Corn Exchange.
Reading Peter’s article I learned several new things about Wallingford. For instance, I never knew that TV critic Charlie Brooker spent his early years in Wallingford (he actually attended Wallingford School) – his scowling face apparently hangs in one of the local pubs. I wonder if Charlie has ever reviewed a film in the dark of the Corn Exchange.
As alcohol is allowed to be consumed on the premises, the Corn Exchange is certainly an inviting place for film buffs to visit. And the fun doesn’t stop when a film’s closing credits roll – the cinema hosts post-film discussion groups and even provided a flip chart so that people could try and work out the plot of the film Inception.
The cinema also stages DVD evenings – perhaps one day it will screen a compilation of clips of Wallingford in Midsomer Murders; Wallingford, of course, doubles as ‘Causton’ in the popular TV series.