Credits Roll For Rail Truck Cinema

South Wales Evening Post, 25 February 2008

Gorseinon rolled out the red carpet at the weekend as tiny cinema La Charrette made sure its last night was one to remember.

As Hollywood was gearing up for last night's Oscars, Academy Award- nominated actor Kenneth Branagh was bringing some of its glitz and glamour to a corner of Swansea. He was there to see La Charrette, which is housed in a converted railway wagon, bow out with a world premiere of one his films - "Alien Love Triangle".

And before 46-year-old Branagh took a pew in one of its 23 seats for its spectacular send-off on Saturday, he admitted he had never seen the comedy flick. He said: "I'm quite nervous - I expect I will have bitten my fingernails right down before the film is shown."

Following the Post's story in October about the cinema's imminent demise, BBC TV's 'The Culture Show' got to work on making a two-part documentary about La Charrette.

Presenter Mark Kermode was instantly hooked by the 55-year-old structure. He said: "It's a magical place, and we wanted to give it a special send-off.

"I've been trying for years to get "Alien Love Triangle" shown without any success, but La Charrette worked a charm."

The 1998 Danny Boyle film was supposed to be part of a trilogy, but the project was shelved when the other two parts - "Mimic" and "Impostor" - were made into feature-length films. Not only did Kermode persuade film distributors Miramax to agree to show the film, but he also got Branagh to go along to the event too.

Out came the red carpet and even a searchlight which dated back to 1939.

Branagh, who arrived in a black limousine, said he instantly fell in love with La Charrette: "It's a romantic idea and a symbol of why people go to the cinema. It's a real special occasion. The searchlight has that whole 21st Century Fox thing about it, and I didn't expect such a large crowd to turn up."

Around 100 people gathered to see Branagh arrive, with a lucky few managing to get close enough to get an autograph from the man himself. Film-fan Steve Speakman, aged 31, said: "He's a fantastic guy, and really down to earth."

Following flashes from the paparazzi, La Charrette members, Kermode and Branagh made their way into the tiny cinema to see "Trainspotting" director Danny Boyle's comedy sci-fi short.

Barbara Rees, La Charrette's only original member, said she enjoyed the film. "I've been coming here regularly since it first opened," added the 78-year-old. "I enjoyed the film, it was funny, and it's been such an unbelievable evening. I think Gwyn would have been thrilled to bits."

The Culture Show airs its documentary about La Charrette on BBC2 on Saturday at 7.10pm.

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