There’s a lovely piece in the Brixton Bugle about the origins of the Ritzy Cinema. I particularly like the details that it was saved by the 1981 Brixton riots, and scuppered by the 1995 ones; and also that it first came about through an ad in Time Out. (So many creative people I’ve spoken to over the years owe some sort of debt to Time Out; David Hare would always speak to us as he credited Time Out with helping to launch his career, back in fringe theatre days.)
I remember the “Little Bit Ritzy” well, as it was then: an art-house cinema showing the sorts of movies people now take for granted on DVD or streaming, but which back in the early ’80s we would have to scour listings and travel across town to see. It was so purist about film that it refused to serve popcorn, lest the munching disturb fellow film-goers (you’ll still get shushed for munching now), though in compensation the carrot-cake was superb.
The Ritzy is one of the main reasons I have chosen to live in and around Brixton for more than 20 years. Though it is now a six-screen multiplex, allowing more films to be shown, they achieved this without — as so many cinemas have — breaking up the wonderful main auditorium, instead building on an extension. Given the cinema’s egalitarian, right-on roots, I was incensed by the recent wage dispute, about which I wrote several blogs; they are now happily resolved, so it’s okay to love the Ritzy again.
If you love the Ritzy too, read the full article here.