FILM fans have been filing through the doors at a Cardiff cinema throughout the day after it opened for the first time since December. 

Chapter Arts Centre in the city's Canton district has two screens that show independent and art house films. 

Like every other cinema in Wales it has been closed since early December, when tougher restrictions were reimposed to clamp down on the rising spread of coronavirus at the time. 

Cinemas in England and Scotland have also been able to reopen from yesterday (Monday, May 17). 


Claire Vaughan, who runs the cinema at Chapter, said the first of its two screens opened at 10.30am this morning and the second just half an hour later. 

Throughout Monday the cinema's two screens will have hosted eight screenings of triple Oscar-winner Nomadland and Sound of Metal, about a drummer losing his hearing. Both films had been streamed by the major online services. 

"I did four introductions, before the films, by lunchtime. I couldn't wait to get in front of my audience and see them again and make sure they were properly welcomed back," said the cinema boss. 

“Both today’s films have been on streaming but people still want to come out and see them.” 


Social distancing measures however mean cinemas must operate with a reduced capacity. 

The centre's biggest screen would normally have room for 188 people and two wheelchair spaces but that has had be cut down to some 40 people and one space for a wheelchair while the capacity of its smaller screen, that has 58 seats, has been reduced to just 12 and a wheelchair space. 

The cinema opened under the same restrictions following last year’s spring lockdown and the imposition of new public health measures which forced Chapter’s cinema to close on December 4. 

Chapter’s booking system also automatically block books empty seats to ensure social distancing when a customer purchases a ticket. 

“When we were able to open last year we would think we’ve got all these sell outs but it’s about 12 or 40 people but the atmosphere is still there,” said Ms Vaughan. 

Monday had been a busy day with the 2pm showing the best attended of the early screenings and one of the evening screenings had also sold out in advance. 

This week the cinema will also show The Human Voice, starring Tilda Swinton, on Wednesday and the Welsh-shot fim Rare Beasts that stars Billy Piper from Friday. The romantic drama was filmed in Wales with the support of Ffilm Cymru, the development agency for Welsh film. 

At present film distributors are showing flexibility to help cinemas through the pandemic but Chapter’s film chief said the industry is facing tough times:

“The distributors are not being as strict on how much they charge, which is helping a lot, but it’s not sustainable in the long term to operate on 20 per cent capacity.” 

During the past year Chapter has been helped by the job retention scheme, though all its staff have now returned from furlough, the Welsh Government’s cultural recovery fund and grants from the British Film Institute and the Arts Council Wales. 

With its doors closed Chapter hosted Zoom events were people could watch a film at the same time and join a chat to discuss it afterwards and also made films by local filmmakers available to view on its website. 

“We called that Chapter Player and we had hundreds of people watching them when normally it may have been 57 people in the cinema.”