A new film society is starting in Sidmouth, with monthly screenings at Kennaway House's Cellar Bar.

The first is this Friday, October 27, with a showing of Cinema Paradiso, followed in December by a showing of  It's a Wonderful Life

Those who attend the launch event will be asked about the films they’d like to see included in the 2024 programme of screenings. The organisers are keen to screen films that might be ‘under the radar’ through not having mainstream release, as well as classic movies and those that have local or timely relevance.

The organisers of the new film club are all local residents. The team comprises Wendy Benwell and Ian Wonnacott (film buffs and Kennaway House volunteers), Kennaway House manager Nikki Dawkins, and Jennifer and Martin Jennings-Wright, a couple with 40 years' experience between them of running arthouse cinemas around the country.

Martin said: “When we moved to Sidmouth six years ago we were hugely impressed by the cultural provision on offer, including the Manor Pavilion Theatre, Kennaway House and of course the wonderful Radway Cinema.

“We're keen supporters of the Radway in particular and love to see the latest releases on its fabulously big screen.

“What we're keen to bring to Sidmouth is a slice of cinema of a different nature altogether, a programme of screenings that will complement what the Radway does so well for the town. We'll be showing films we love as well as all manner of films from all over the place. Old blockbusters, foreign gems and tiny avant-garde pieces. And all on a screen that's marginally smaller - OK, much smaller - than at the Radway!”

This Friday’s film, Cinema Paradiso [12A], is the much-loved tale of Toto, a young boy in rural 1940s Sicily who is obsessed with his local picture house and pesters the projectionist into teaching him all he knows.

Martin said: “Cinema Paradiso is one of our all-time favourites and the main reason why our dog (erstwhile Herald columnist and mastermind behind local dog shop Toto's of Sidmouth) is called Toto. Don't tell him though – he thinks it's a Wizard of Oz thing.”

Doors open this Friday at 7pm, with the screening at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5.50 (£4.50 for Friends of Kennaway House) and available by calling 01395 515551.

The Cellar Bar is fully licensed and refreshments will be available before and after the film, as well as during the 10-minute intermission.