Cinema under the stars

Cinema under the stars

The Lexi cinema, based in Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, brought some old fashioned Hollywood glamour to the park in the grand finale of their late summer screenings.

The clouds parted and the peaceful ambiance took hold as families and friends settled in to watch this classic American romantic drama starring the ultimate leading man and lady, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

Casablanca is a film which invariably appears in those top ten films of all time countdowns, and it is easy to see why.

It is a great romance which tells the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) who runs a club in Vichy occupied Casablanca, in Morocco. Europe is overrun with Nazis and the assortment of refugees and resistance leaders are trying to make their escape to America.

Cue Ilsa Lund, played by Ingrid Berghman, Rick’s old love interest (“of all the gin joints in all the world she walks into mine”). He must choose between his love for Ilsa, and helping her and her husband, the leader of the Czech Resistance, escape.

What ensues is a smart, witty and beguiling film which shows Hollywood at is best.

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Casablanca’s showing, put on in partnership with Screen on the Green, bought to a close the Lexi’s first, very successful, outdoor season of sunset screenings.

Organisers went the extra mile by bringing in Brent based jazz band True Experience to provide a soundtrack which could have come straight out of Rick’s gin joint.

While contortionists and knife throwers from Zippos Circus enthralled the audience during the interval.

Earlier showings had included everyone’s favourite action hero in his debut role – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And for those who have a penchant for sequined bell bottoms and pop music, Mama Mia! was shown.

Organisers got the film choice just right, providing an ideal mix of modern and classic films all fit for family consumption.

What makes the Lexi’s film showing a little more special than you average excursion is the level of community and charity involvement.

Spice Caravan, a group of refugee mothers who cook food to raise money for Salusbury Primary School, in Kilburn, laid on North African cuisine.

And all the profits raised by the cinema are donated to the Sustainability Institute in South Africa, an education centre which explores ways of creating a more equitable and sustainable society.

Lexi founder Sally Wilton said: “The Lexi’s mission is to bring the magic of cinema to the local community.

“The outdoor screenings in the park allow us to recreate the special experience of a visit to the Lexi on a much larger scale.

“It has been a great success. The turnout just shows what a demand there is for events like this locally.”