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By midlandsmovies, May 15 2020 09:41AM

A Batman premiere forever in Leicester hearts

Leicester Square! The home of the red-carpet movie premiere in the country. Well, the famous London location didn’t get its hands on one particular UK premiere back in the 90s - but the city of Leicester in the Midlands sure as hell did. Holy cinema, Batman!

For it was on 12th July 1995, the European premiere of Batman Forever unbelievably took place on an industrial estate just outside this East Midlands city. What?? You heard right. A 9-screen Warner Cinema complex opened at Meridian Leisure Park on the outskirts of Leicester and to celebrate its launch, Warner Brothers decided to launch its summer blockbuster right here.

A sequel to the 1992 film Batman Returns and the third instalment of the 90s Batman film series, superstar Val Kilmer replaced Michael Keaton as the caped crusader. He appeared alongside a host of Hollywood hot properties including Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman and Chris O'Donnell.

But given its slightly less than elegant whereabouts, this event probably just had z-list celebrities though, right? Well, there were a few it must be said. But amongst 90s Neighbours soap opera actor Craig McLaughlin and British entertainer Bradley Walsh, the film’s stars Val Kilmer and Chris O’Donnell did in fact attend the bash!

As well as that, director Joel Schumacher was also present with many of these A-listers dropped off by helicopter right next to the glamorous M1 motorway. And to welcome them all to Leicester, a frankly astonishing 2,500 people were invited to be a part of this special occasion.

The recently constructed cinema was unique as well, resembling as it did a giant film set. High ceilings had hanging lamps and gantries added, and placed alongside were life-size models of the Looney Tunes characters. It sounds as gaudy as the sets from Batman Forever itself.

Gabrielle Miller, owner of Cool As Leicester, was there on the day and fondly remembers the event. “I loved that day. My mum took us down early to be near the front because I wanted to see Ryan Giggs and my sister wanted to see Craig McLaughlin. It was completely mental that there was an actual film premiere down the road! I remember Craig McLaughlin turned up in some leather outfit and being very excited”.

Other celebrities out on the carpet included the band Oasis, Julie Walters, Patsy Kensit and half of the Manchester United football team.

Truly one of the strangest cinematic events to befall the Midlands, another attendee was young Leicester resident Mathew Pearce who was involved in even more bizarre antics. “I got a signed football that was kicked out into the crowd with the autographs of the cast on it”, says Mat.

“I remember getting into huge trouble because I was 10 and didn't tell anyone I was going. You can imagine to a small kid that getting one of those balls was the most exciting thing possible. Bradley Walsh must have presented it and came over to us with Lesley Joseph. I remember being scared because her character Dorian was a bit mean in Birds of a Feather”.

Mat finishes off, “Bradley Walsh asked if I wanted him to sign the ball as well. I said ‘I don't know who you are but sure’. He just laughed and signed it. I was dark when I got home and I was grounded for an eternity but well worth the punishment”

“It really was a great day and obviously growing up in Braunstone it was massive having all of these film stars come to town. There were helicopters flying over the house all night and Warner Brothers had Batman-style lasers lighting up the sky that you could see for miles”.

Local drama principal Karen Stevens has fond recollections too. “I won tickets to the screening an hour before in Town Hall Square. I raced down in whatever I was wearing to walk the red carpet!”

Despite mixed reviews (and the ugly addition of nipples on the Batsuit), the film was in fact a financial hit grossing over $336 million at the box office worldwide. And its successful soundtrack featured monster hit singles "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" by U2 and "Kiss from a Rose" by Seal.

And one final shock from the time was the remarkable fact Batman Forever was nominated for three Oscars! Less surprisingly however was that it won zero.

So come on, Hollywood. What are you afraid of? The welcoming and friendly folk of Leicester ask you to set your spotlights once again on our fair city. Let’s see another huge premiere head our way as it’s about time you tried to top the last one.

Michael Sales

By midlandsmovies, Mar 8 2020 11:16PM

On Friday 6th March I had the pleasure of being invited to attend the screening of It's Just a Boy, the first short film from Nottingham-based Leap of Faith Films. It's also the first film from writer/director Jane Louise Webb.

There's always something special about attending a screening with the people who made the film. I hid at the back, in a great position to soak up the atmosphere. There's a thrill of energy that runs around the room, seats filled with cast members and crew members and family members (and at least one random roving reviewer). Children run up the aisles as people catch up and reminisce about the shoot, all waiting for the announcement that showtime is upon us.

As this is Webb's first film, it's easy to imagine the nerves that come with seeing your work on the big screen for the first time. It's Just a Boy started its journey with a teaser trailer and crowdfunding campaign in 2018, and now it's screening in a cinema and doing the festival rounds. She needn't have worried though as it's turned out to be a very strong debut indeed!

13 year old Amy (Angel-May Webb) has a secret admirer, a boy she messages but has never met. He desperately wants to meet up so she tries to give her mother Penny (Sarah Eastwood) the runaround. Penny's not easily fooled, though, as she intercepts the messages and confronts her naive daughter. Amy can't see what the fuss is all about - after all, it's just a boy. Isn't it?

The film gets a little uncomfortable to watch at times, seeing poor Amy excited at the prospect of a boy liking her and embarrassed by what she sees as her mum's overprotective behaviour. The story might seem predictable, but if so then it's only because it needs to be to deliver its warning message. As the story cruises to its inevitable end, Amy's refrain of 'it's just a boy' hammers home how sinister the situation is. She's being catfished, gaslight and groomed and she's too young to appreciate the danger she's in. Even her dad doesn't seem overly bothered until it's clear that things aren't on the level.

It's Just A Boy is an excellent film, well-shot with great performances from the two leads and an important message. A statement at the end provides some worrying statistics about the number of kids on social media and the percentage of them that have been contacted by suspicious accounts. It can be hard to protect vulnerable children and teenagers in the digital age, and parents will always worry for their safety. The hope is for the film to be shown in schools to raise awareness of the issue and to help protect as many kids as possible.

The credits roll, the lights come up to a well-earned round of applause and cheers, then it's off to the bar for celebratory drinks as everyone congratulates each other on a job well done.

Jane Louise Webb has delivered a powerful first film, and something tells me this is far from the last we'll see of her and Leap of Faith films!

Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend

By midlandsmovies, Nov 18 2019 11:32AM

Award-nominated 15-year old filmmaker Luke Allen hosts premiere for new film Unstable

The premiere for the latest short film from award-nominated 15-year old filmmaker Luke Allen is taking place next month in the Midlands.

Based in Telford, his latest short film UNSTABLE is having a red carpet premiere event now production is complete.

Unstable tells the story of Adam (Alexander Westwood), a man whose life starts to go downhill when his ever-increasing increasing addiction starts to affect his relationships.

Made on zero budget with all the members of the cast kindly working and travelling free of charge, what was initially going to be a small screening to kindly thank the cast and crew has now led to a much larger event.

The premiere will take place on Saturday 7th December at Telford Priory School in Wrockwardine Wood from 7.30pm.

Luke goes on to explain how the short was concepted ; “The idea for the film came about as I volunteer with a charity called ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) which has led to me coming in contact with several recovering addicts”.

“I've always felt that their representation has been incorrect in media and that addicts are very rarely (if ever) presented as ordinary people who've made a mistake and need help. I hope that this film is successful in portraying them in such a light”, adds Luke.

Tickets are free with a small cost for refreshments and dress code is formal and the audience will be treated to a Q&A with the director and the film’s cast members.

All details for the premiere are available at www.lukeallen.co.uk and free tickets are available to book at Eventbrite:


Check out the full trailer for UNSTABLE above.

By midlandsmovies, Oct 17 2019 01:42PM

BAME female filmmaker sells out screening of debut short film Lost Identity

West Midlands filmmaker Ruth Holder is an ambitious, driven 19 year old who has written, directed and self financed her debut short and has now sold out the Mockingbird Cinema for the premiere. The screening, on Wednesday 23rd October, sold out in a week.

‘Lost Identity’ is a short, experimental dance film that explores how we change ourselves, altering our appearance and behaviour in order to please other people and the emotional and mental impact that has on us.

The film is deeply personal to Ruth who shares, “Lost Identity is a love letter to myself and was influenced by my experiences in secondary school. I was hardly ever paid any attention to, no one even batted an eye at me and I hated it, I hated feeling like I was invisible. So I changed who I was in order to get my classmates attention and yes I got the attention I hoped for, but not in the way that I expected".

She goes on to add, “I was called names, punched and hit repeatedly like it was okay to do so and used by people who I thought were my friends. Despite knowing that what was happening to me was wrong, I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay because I finally got the attention I wanted, despite it being negative".

“So I decided to make a film about what happened to me, not only to share my experience and inspire others to stand up for themselves but also to heal. Working on this film made me realise that I'm still hurting from my past experiences and to grow and move on, I knew I had to tell my story", says Ruth.

Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood
Credit: Jade Jones-Blackwood

Ruth sourced a professional crew and choreographer and shot the film in the Old Print Works, Balsall Heath and is keen for the work to be seen by as many people as possible, hoping to be able to tour the film in schools and youth groups to discuss the issues in her film with others who may be experiencing similar issues.

This premiere event will be the first delivered by Birmingham Young FIlmmakers Network in partnership with the Mockingbird Cinema, which is working to create a collaborative community for underrepresented creatives.

BYFN founder Cassie Smyth says, “Ruth’s film is incredibly impressive and confident, much like Ruth herself, and really confirms our suspicion that there is a lot of amazing potential in Birmingham that just needs the space and support to shine and we’re thrilled to be able to facilitate that.".

Watch the trailer here:

By midlandsmovies, Mar 21 2018 02:14PM

David Tennant walks the red carpet with other stars for Birmingham Easter charity premiere - You, Me & Him

David Tennant will be joined on the red carpet by cast including Faye Marsay, Georgia E Tennant, Sally Phillips and Director Daisy Aitkens on Saturday 31st March at Cineworld, Broad Street Birmingham, for the charity premiere of You, Me and Him. David Tennant, Faye Marsay and Daisy Aitkens will also introduce the film before the screening.

You, Me & Him is a comedy-drama about a lesbian couple at different points in their lives - high-powered lawyer Olivia (Lucy Punch) is nearly 40 and wants to start a family but her free-wheeling younger partner Alex (Faye Marsay) doesn't share her urgency. What happens next involves recently-divorced neighbour John (David Tennant) and creates a tangled web of consequences and pregnancies.

There are a limited number of tickets available for this special screening at £36 each for the event at Cineworld Broad Street, Birmingham 31st March 2018 6.30pm.

Baby Lifeline is the official charity partner of the film You, Me & Him and it is hosting the Birmingham red carpet premiere which will be attended by the cast and many other well-known names. The film was shot on location in the Midlands.

Other well-known celebrities from the music, television and radio world also confirmed are, Peter Davison, Tessie Orange-Turner, Christian Brassington, Jack Savoretti, Nick Owen, Jack Cork, the cast of BBC's Doctors, Ainsley Harriot and Heart West Midlands Breakfast presenters Ed James and Gemma Hill… more to be announced!

David Tennant and Sally Phillips are both Ambassadors for the charity Baby Lifeline’s £5 million Monitoring for Mums appeal to provide maternity and neonatal equipment for maternity services nationally, and the premiere will raise funds for this appeal.

Tickets are available from http://babylifelinetraining.org.uk/home/product/birmingham-film-premiere/

Watch the film's trailer below:

By midlandsmovies, Sep 26 2017 03:47PM

Midlands Spotlight - New drama short from Chilli Rose Productions

Midlands Movies finds out about the latest short film from Chilli Rose Production who are soon to launch their new drama “Who’s There”.

Shot entirely in Kidderminster and directed by local talent Fernando Antonio Maffei, Chilli Rose Productions are launching their film with an official screening event night in just a few months time.

The official screening will take place at Kidderminster Town Hall on 7th December at 7.30pm with a £2 entry fee and with DVDs of the film itself available after the show.

Who’s There stars Antonio Magro (Blood Orange, The Alienist), Amy Shepherd (WPC 56)

Greg Hobbs (The Truth), Grace Valloriani (Harry Brown), and Sophie Canare (ARTICHOKE)

Chilli Rose Productions are a local film production company based in Worcestershire UK and, on Facebook, Fernando had plenty to say about the support he’s received about the film so far on.

“I'm so proud of what we have achieved with ‘Who's There’. My cast and crew all worked very hard to achieve something so stylish and we shot the film using the RED EPIC camera”.

Fernando adds, “There is so much talent around here, I believe there are some great filmmakers around Kidderminster and the Worcestershire surrounding areas, the more we work together the stronger the local industry will become”.

For more information follow the film on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chilliroseproductions

Watch the trailer for Who’s There below:

By midlandsmovies, Aug 6 2017 07:15PM

Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm: The Untold Secrets

Pre-release Screening, 4th August 2017, Stourbridge Town Hall

The question of who put Bella in the Wych-Elm has both baffled and captivated the public since 1943, when the body of an unidentified female was found in the innards of a tree in Hagley Woods in the West Midlands.

Director and paranormal investigator Jayne Harris set about trying to solve this long-standing mystery and uncovered some shocking revelations along the way. Stourbridge Town Hall sold out early with four hundred people wanting to be the first to see the film that documents her findings.

A director’s introduction detailed the evolution of the project, from YouTube clip to documentary feature before the audience was introduced to the case. Harris opened the introduction with claims that she isn’t a filmmaker. This is an assertion which needs to be reassessed.

The sheer wealth of material that has been excavated and created is staggering: Soaring aerial expositional shots of Hagley and its surrounding areas situate the audience slap-bang in the middle of the crime scene; ‘misplaced’ post-mortem documents were dug up and acted recreations were used effectively, never once evoking that unintentional ‘Horrible Histories’ feel that hampers some documentaries. Seamlessly put together, exhaustively researched and passionately presented, this wouldn’t look out of place under the Documentaries tab on Netflix.

Talking heads interviews with case experts and witchcraft aficionados translate as authoritative and impartial and are all the more engrossing for it. However, the medium’s insight does ask a lot of the audience, leaving this pragmatist somewhat sceptical and wishing the film was five minutes shorter.

However, depending on your inclination this and the eyewitness accounts of ghostly figures in the area will either send you running for the Wychbury hills…or running for the hills.

Although a few audio issues with the venue detracted from the presentation, it was inspiring to hear so many audience members discussing their thoughts and theories in the lobby after the film. This is clearly a case which captures the imagination and to see it in such an environment (a stone’s throw or two from the crime scene) separates this from your run-of-the-mill multiplex experience.

That the story invites such engagement is unsurprising; it’s delightfully dark and rich for exploration. Who was Bella? A prostitute, a traveller, a German intelligence agent? What about the actual killer? Was it ritualistic witchcraft, a local cover up or even Mi5 influenced? You’ll have to see it to find out for yourself.

Bella will haunt Stourbridge Town Hall again at a further screening on the 31st of October. Links to tickets will soon be available here

The DVD of Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm is available to order here with bonus features which include copies of the original police files/photographs and an interview with Director & Producer Jayne Harris.

Robb Sheppard


By midlandsmovies, Jun 19 2017 01:27PM

Who Put Bella in the Wych-Elm? – The Untold Secrets

First Official Screening. Friday August 4th at Stourbridge Town Hall.

Have you heard of the Wych-Elm legend? Nearly 75 years ago, the remains of an unidentified female were discovered in a hollowed-out tree in Hagley, giving birth to a murder mystery which captivated the West Midlands and soon spread much further afield.

Addressing questions left unanswered since 1943, local Director Jayne Harris attempts to solve a mystery that eluded the authorities, unearthing Nazi Espionage, Witchcraft, and the Supernatural along the way.

You can see the trailer here:

With previously classified MI5 and police information uncovered for the first time and local residents breaking their silence, maybe the mystery of "Who put Bella in the Wych-Elm?" can finally be put to rest.

The first official screening takes place at Stourbridge Town Hall: a venue the director chose for its Victorian elegance and its proximity to the site of the Wych-Elm.

Tickets cost £3 and are available here.


Keep your eyes on Midlands Movies for a review soon.

Robb Sheppard

By midlandsmovies, Mar 29 2016 10:13AM

Midlands Spotlight - Crossing Paths Premiere

On 26th March Midlands Movies had the great honour of being asked to host the cast and crew premiere for the Derby short film Crossing Paths which was being shown at the Broadway cinema.

Nottingham’s Broadway cinema is in the heart of the city’s creative quarter and was the perfect venue for the first big-screen showing of this exciting Midlands-shot short film.

We have already reviewed the film (read here) so knew what to expect but the added support from those involved in the making of the film including the actors, writers and musicians made the screening all the more special for its inaugural presentation.

Director Ben Bloore was the first to arrive and had with him a brand new banner with the film’s artwork printed on. The poster uses a shot from the film which centres around the lives of two intersecting souls whose circumstances lead them to question guilt, responsibilities and family matters.

Also in attendance was writer Ben Fowkes and after a test of the sound and projector, Screen 4 was all set to receive the first guests on this bright Saturday morning.

The actors arrived first and with a variety of different experiences had fun meeting up again and before long, guests were invited down to have photos taken and then subsequently took their seats in the auditorium.

A warm welcome was given by Ben before he explained that today’s showing was the culmination of a year long journey and that the audience would have a chance to ask questions of the cast and crew once the film had ended.

The lights dimmed and the film began and although under 10 minutes long, the serious themes of the film came across with power and a few gasps were heard as well as many tears shed.

Once the lights came up, a huge round of applause erupted before the cast were asked to come to the front to discuss their involvement.

First up was film and TV actress Michelle Darkin-Pirce who is currently recording 'Breaking In' for radio, a play by writer Adrian Reynolds. She has also appeared in Emmerdale on ITV and plays Alison in the film. The audience were surprised to hear her love for physical roles and had people laughing when she exclaimed that she is often cast as a drug user, although she made clear SHE wasn’t – and more recently, had been cast as the mother of a drug user.

Next up was the experienced Mark Tunstall as Sean who has also appeared in Doctors on BBC1 and explained that his background helped him come to the brief role with a fully formed idea of what was required and enjoyed the chemistry with his fellow actors.

Phil Molloy was praised by Ben for only coming aboard a week before shooting after another cast member dropped out. Phil plays Matthew in Crossing Paths and has also starred in the films Soft and Dysnomia. He felt the tough themes of the film contrasted with the lovely atmosphere on set, especially the park-shoot which was filmed on a glorious day but had some problems with public passer-bys.

And the final cast member to take the stage was the exceptional Tina Harris as Lorraine. Tina is known for her wide range of roles in films on The Regiment, Northern Soul and Happy New Year as well as coming from a stint from sci-fi TV series Red Dwarf.

And last but not least was the man who had thrown his own heart and soul into creating, filming and completing Crossing Paths, Ben Bloore himself. Thanking the enormous support from those involved, Ben also explained that film was soon to be released on the festival circuit with them waiting to hear from 5 exciting possibilities in the coming months.

A few questions from the audience were thrown out about the superb music from the film before the event finished on a high note from Ben who recommended anyone trying to get a project off the ground to get out there and do it no matter how long, and sometimes frustrating, it takes to achieve.

And with that a final good bye was said and a hugely proud and supportive audience congratulated both Bens for all their hard work and wished them success on their ongoing career and journey with the film.

A few photos can be seen on the film’s Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530286923938232/

Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Feb 15 2015 09:33PM

The team behind new Leicester-set film Beverley have arranged a full-on weekend of screenings of the film along with a wonderful 'Behind The Scenes’ insight into the making of the movie.

The film will be shown in Nottingham Friday 6th March, Leicester Saturday 7th March and Coventry Sunday 8th March, with each event being very different with the White Lion Bar Beeston being a free private screening for all arranged by Nottingham Alternative Film Network. Stars Vicky and Jonny Owen will be there too.

In Leicester, the film will be shown at Phoenix Square, which will be a red carpet premiere and should serve as a great reunion with everyone - cast, crew and all the help the production had last Easter during filming. Then for the Sunday, the team are lucky to have Neville and Christine Staple who have helped arrange with the crew an event at the amazing 2-Tone Village in Coventry. This day-long event will involve music and DJs and the team hope that people who enjoy the ska scene to turnout for a screening of Beverley for this daytime event.

The 3 events are all in the Midlands with strong links to those involved in the making of Beverley and tickets are limited so but producer Cass Pennant is looking to share his pride in what they have all made.

Beverley is a Midlands-centric short with great performances staring Laya Lewis, Vicky McClure, Kieran Hardcastle and Winston Ellis. The local talent that were cast came from the Television Workshop and Young Urban Actors with local film extras also chosen after an appeal made in the Leicester Mercury Newspaper.


Nottingham Alternative Film Network screening Beverley at The White Lion Bar & Kitchen cinema evening of Friday 6th March in Beeston at 7.30pm.

Address: 24 Middle Street, Beeston, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG9 1FX


Phoenix Cinema and Art Centre

Cinema Art house cinema showing indie, family-friendly and retro films, plus exhibitions, food and drink.

BEVERLEY plus Behind The Scenes – Screen 2 at 5pm, Cast arrive 4pm

Address: 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG


Come to the 2-Tone themed café, Caribbean restaurant, clothes and memorabilia shop and visit Coventry's wall of fame. Forth-coming events include exclusive screening of Beverley with a ska music party with Neville and Christine Staple on Sunday 8th March at 4pm - 9pm.

Address: Unit 7, The 2-Tone Village Courtyard, rear of 74-80 Walsgrave Road, Coventry CV2 4ED

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