Bristol IMAX is reopening for the upcoming Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

The Forbidden Worlds Festival will take over the old Bristol IMAX cinema siteThe Forbidden Worlds Festival will take over the old Bristol IMAX cinema site
The Forbidden Worlds Festival will take over the old Bristol IMAX cinema site | Forbidden Worlds Festival
The IMAX cinema on Anchor Road has been closed up for years, but in May you’ll be able to step inside again for the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

The former Bristol IMAX cinema at Bristol Aquarium will be reopening its doors from 13th-15th May for the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival, despite having been used as a storage space for years.

Film buffs and cinema lovers will be delighted to be able to step inside the space again, with the festival taking over the once-popular movie house to show a whole host of classic and cult films.

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For the last decade, the former cinema hasn’t hosted any regular film screenings and has not been used as a space to celebrate films since closing its doors.

Bristol Aquarium states that the cinema space within their building was “formally home to an IMAX cinema, this large auditorium retains the impressive 19 x 15m screen to create the ultimate visual experience. The theatre has tiered seating for 340 people with a small stage area.”

Having been used as a space for conferences and presentations of late, there’s no doubt that cinema lovers and film enthusiasts will be excited to see the room put back to its former glory and used as a space to celebrate film.

It’s easy to see why they think it’s the perfect setting for the film festivalIt’s easy to see why they think it’s the perfect setting for the film festival
It’s easy to see why they think it’s the perfect setting for the film festival | Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

So, why is it reopening now? To celebrate the beloved Bristol film shop 20th Century Flicks turning 40, Forbidden Worlds Film Festival is a brand new film festival.

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It will be a three-day event, dedicated to genre cinema with a particular focus on some of the classics and curios that emerged in 1982 (the year they first opened their doors).

Described by the founders as “a film festival dedicated to screening repertory fantasy, action, science-fiction and horror films from around the world and celebrating the people that made them,” the festival has already sold out the early bird weekend passes, but regular weekend tickets are still available to buy.

The Forbidden Worlds programming team. L-R Dave Taylor, Tessa Williams, Timon Singh, Anthony Nield, and Thomas VincentThe Forbidden Worlds programming team. L-R Dave Taylor, Tessa Williams, Timon Singh, Anthony Nield, and Thomas Vincent
The Forbidden Worlds programming team. L-R Dave Taylor, Tessa Williams, Timon Singh, Anthony Nield, and Thomas Vincent | Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

Apart from the obvious fact that it has clearly got people’s attention, why the old IMAX cinema? “Originally opened in 2000, this venue has tiered seating for 340 persons and is site to an impressive 19m x 15m screen – truly a big-screen experience!” say the organisers of Forbidden Worlds Film Festival.

On their website, they continued on to say that they felt it was the perfect space “to create the ultimate visual experience.”

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Perhaps it’s not surprising, given that the cinema is the biggest film screen in the city. David Taylor, co-owner of 20th Century Flicks says: “To celebrate the unlikely event of our 40th birthday we wanted to do something special, so we are hosting a film festival for the whole city as a way to say thanks!

“Forbidden Worlds will complement the many film festivals that already operate in this city such as Slapstick and Cinema Rediscovered, tapping into the more disreputable type of cinema that video shops made such fertile territory of back in the early days.

“If the festival is successful, we hope to make this an annual event with a different theme and line-up each year. It’d be quite something if a video shop’s birthday party could bring the largest cinema in the south west back into use for the city!”

The festival will also be showing Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 to mark the 100th anniversary of Christopher Lee’s birth.The festival will also be showing Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 to mark the 100th anniversary of Christopher Lee’s birth.
The festival will also be showing Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 to mark the 100th anniversary of Christopher Lee’s birth. | Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

What can we expect from the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival? The festival has already confirmed screenings of Ridley Scott’s science-fiction classic Blade Runner, Australian post-apocalyptic masterpiece Mad Max, Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper’s supernatural chiller Poltergeist, and Basket Case, the film that may have influenced Malignant.

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Those attending can also see Roger Corman’s gleefully gory Alien rip-off Forbidden World and John Frankenheimer’s criminally underseen martial arts movie The Challenge, starring Scott Glenn and Japanese acting titan Toshiro Mifune.

The bizarre Taiwanese fantasy adventure Thrilling Bloody Sword which plays out like the weird love child of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be shown at the festival and Masters of the Universe.

Additionally, the festival will also be showing Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 to mark the 100th anniversary of Christopher Lee’s birth.

What about the future of the former IMAX Cinema after the festival? According to 20th Century Flicks, if successful, the festival could lead to them being able to use the space for more community cinema projects. So, film lovers - watch this space.

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