WOW 120 Years of Film in Sussex



120 years after the first film screening in Worthing took place, WOW is running a major two-week exhibition and festival to celebrate local film history.

The 120 Years of Film in Sussex event will run as part of the Worthing WOW (World of Words) Festival from 28 May to 12 June with a series of events including:

  • Film screenings
  • Exhibitions
  • Educational workshops celebrating early cinema
  • Heritage Trail

Two major exhibitions will take place as part of the event with Worthing Museum and Art Gallery exploring early film equipment, and Shoreham’s Marlipins Museum showcasing early filmmaking at Bungalow Town.

Shoreham Fort will also be recreating an exact copy of the film backdrop used in the first film ever made at the fort in 1914.

A printed heritage trail which the public can follow to find out about early filmmaking and screenings in the Worthing and Shoreham district will run throughout the festival.

Two plaques celebrating film in Worthing will also be restored. The first, which is currently on the wall of the Pavilion will be reinstated to its rightful home of the Southern Pavilion. The second, which is in a poor state on the wall of the Church of the Good Shepherd, will be replaced.

The celebration of film will culminate in the publication of a book about filmmaking in Sussex by Historical Film Expert Ellen Cheshire.

“We’re thrilled to have support from so many local groups and museums, and the funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, to make this exciting project take place. By celebrating achievements from the past we hope to inspire film-makers and story-tellers of the future.By celebrating achievements from the past we hope to inspire filmmakers and story-tellers of the future.”

- Melody Bridges, Artistic Director of Worthing WOW

The 120 Years of Film in Sussex event will be the climax of a series of collaborations with several organisations including Northbrook College. In the run up to the festival WOW will be mentoring Northbrook Students studying Drama in Education to help them lead How to Tell a Story workshops with children in five local schools and two two-day Make Me a Director workshops for the over 60s and the unemployed. The resulting films made in the workshops will be shown as part of the festival. The big launch celebration Recreating 1896 screening will take place at the Southern Pavilion on May 28.

The launch will also see screenings of the early films shown 120 years ago. Work is already underway on a film by award-winning local filmmaker Alan Stockdale to highlight the area’s links with filmmaking. Last year Alan directed a haunting film for the Jane Austen’s Worthing event which was shown at the Connaught Cinema.