‘We’re punching above our weight’: Dalston’s Rio is crowned the UK’s best cinema at the Screen Awards 2019

The Rio Cinema in Kingsland High Street

The Rio Cinema in Kingsland High Street - Credit: The Rio Cinema in Kingsland High Street

The Rio was named the UK’s Cinema of The Year at a prestigious awards ceremony last night.

The indie cinema in Kingsland High Street, Dalston, was up against seven other cinemas from all over the UK on a shortlist which included Hackney's other indie cinema The Castle.

The Rio also picked up an award for the best marketing campaign, beating large chains like Cineworld, Picturehouse and Odeon at the Screen Awards 2019.

The not-for-profit charity community cinema was also commended by the jury for its programme of festivals and immersive events working with the likes of Mubi, Vice, Dazed, Boiler Room and Deeper Into Movies, to put on enhanced screenings, live music, director and actor Q&As, dance and poetry themed nights and attracting young audiences.

And on top of all that it was recognised for its work as a pioneering community cinema, for its work making cinema accessible to everyone by working with local charities, marginalised groups, festivals, film makers, schools and educational bodies.

The jury also commended the sustainability work carried out at the Grade II listed art deco building thanks to a £150,000 crowd funder two years ago, which has reduced its environmental impact, and brought more of the building back into use by adding a second screen and new basement bar. Energy use has halved with a green heating system and LED lighting, and a recycling scheme ensures "zero to landfill".

Executive director Oliver Meek told the Gazette he was thrilled.

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"Normally at these awards the big chains are the focus, so it's really nice to get some recognition," he said.

"When I took over five years ago there were lots and lots of problems. The business was struggling, the staff weren't happy, the building was run down and in the last few years, we built a screen, renovated the exterior, and have got an amazing team organising lots of exciting things that make the Rio stand out.

"Getting the award is very much down to everyone's really hard work."

He continued: "The big cinemas will have marketing teams and we are managing these events with a small team. The Rio does so many different things and it's always a crazy balancing act, from film programming, to special events and community programming and we have demand for film shooting. "It's challenging but it's really exciting and with such minimal resources, we are really punching above our weight."

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