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Bury St Edmunds cinema legend Pat Church’s excitement as 35mm film returns for special screening of Hitchcock’s Psycho

A Bury St Edmunds cinema legend was 13 years old when he first handled the 35mm film of Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho.

Now, 63 years later, Pat Church is preparing to screen the film in 35mm form once more.

The Abbeygate cinema, in Hatter Street, is holding a special screening of the original 35mm of Psycho on October 29 – it is one of a few cinemas still to have the ability to show films in the original 35mm format.

Abbeygate Cinema, Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds Pat Church. Picture by Mark Westley
Abbeygate Cinema, Hatter Street, Bury St Edmunds Pat Church. Picture by Mark Westley

Pat said: “I was 13 years old when I first encountered this film, working in a projection room three evenings a week, after school, at a small suburban cinema in Peterborough.

“Little did I know that some 63 years later I would be so excited at running this film through my fingers again.”

Pat is now the only member of staff at the cinema with the skills to screen 35mm films and he cannot wait to get back in the projector room for the venue’s screen one and put those skills – which ‘you never forget’ – to good use.

“The new modern cinema builds just put digital projectors in and there’s no such thing as a projectionist any more,” he said.

“There is an art to handle and physically show a 35mm film.

“But once you have done it, you never forget how to handle it or the feel and smell of it – everything is so different about it. It is a world of its own.

“When you watch the film, 35mm is much softer on the eyes where digital is very harsh and sharp. I was brought up on 35mm and can really notice the difference.

“I am hoping this 35mm screening will trigger people’s memories and lead to more in the future.”

The film should arrive at the Abbeygate a week before the screening, on six separate reels.

“We run a single-reel system and it will have to be made up into one complete reel. It is a dying art,” said Pat.

“This screening is something I have been asking to do for years – it is a rare event and hopefully everyone will enjoy the experience so we can do it again. Then, I could help others learn the skills of 35mm and we could start a new era.”

Book tickets online at www.abbeygatecinema.co.uk

Hitchcock: Psycho (1960) on 35mm film will be screened on October 29 at 1.30pm, with an age rating of 15.