One of the things that makes the Electric Palace such a great place to visit is our fabulous, dedicated volunteer and staff team. 

So, who are the people who welcome you  to the cinema? Find Ben Newell.

What prompted you to volunteer/work at the cinema?

Benediction film poster showing man in suit looking seriousI moved to Hastings in 2021 to become a primary school teacher. I didn’t get around to visiting the cinema until a year later after a friend bought me a voucher for the cinema as a wedding gift.

Anyway, I went to Terrence Davies's ‘Benediction’ which was fantastic. I happened to speak to Rebecca, shared my enthusiasm and knowledge for film and from there she very kindly asked if I would like to get involved.

How long have you volunteered/worked at the cinema?

Nearly a year!

What's your favourite thing about the cinema?

Electric Palace is a safe and open space bringing together passionate cineastes and people from the community.

What special perk do you love as a volunteer at the Electric Palace?

Watching the amazing variety of films on offer and meeting like-minded people.

Two Lane Blacktop film poster with man and carTell us about an experience at the cinema (not necessarily from at the Electric Palace).

I once sat with Arthur Penn (director of the 1967 classic Bonnie & Clyde) and watched Monte Hellman’s thrilling Two-Lane Blacktop at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Big fanboy moment!

What film would you like to watch at the cinema?

I have always been a fan of Terrence Malick. His films are almost dreamlike and should be watched in a cinema. I was fortunate enough to help curate a series of films for the Electric Palace American season earlier this year and I put on Malick’s first film Badlands (1973). I’ve seen this film numerous times but it was the first time watching it in a cinema and it brought a new and alluring dimension to it. A masterpiece of cinema.

Have you ever gone to see a movie and wanted to watch it again immediately?

Yes - I remember seeing David Fincher’s crime classic Zodiac (2007) in Times Square in New York and when I came out of it I instantly wanted to see it again. Fincher made a mystery classic by depriving the audience of what they expected - and wanted. I needed to see it again in case I missed something. 

Volunteers at the Electric Palace sometimes see movies they may not have planned to watch, occasionally outside of their comfort zone or usual taste. Tell us about a film you saw at the Electric Palace that took you by surprise.

I was really taken and surprised by ‘Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over”. I found it as short, anarchic and explosive as a punk song and hugely entertaining.

Tell us about your favourite film of yours.

Some of my favourite films include: Vertigo (Hitchock, 1958), All the President’s Men (Pakula, 1976), Blow-Up (Antonioni, 1966), The New World (Malick, 2006), A Good Year (Scott, 2006).

More recently I found Charlotte Wells’s Aftersun to be one of the most affecting and translucent films I’ve ever seen.

Tell us a good film to watch that makes you laugh out loud or blub your eyes out.

For pure comedy: The Other Guys (Mackay, 2010) - pure comedy gold. For pure tears: I cried at a lot of things randomly, from Dunkirk (Nolan, 2017) to Aftersun (Wells, 2022).

Do you have a hot tip to share for where you get your film news? A good blog, online reviewer, enewsletter or podcast, for example?

Lots, really. Everything from Empire Magazine to Sight and Sound. Podcasts such as Kermode on Film and The Empire Film Podcast. But I’ve always been a big film historian so I tend to read a lot of film books.

I can recommend Eyes Wide Open (Frederick Raphael) which is about Kubrick, Walter Murch’s book The Conversations and the art of editing, and Peter Biskind’s Easy Rider, Raging Bulls.

What's a great soundtrack you listen to?

Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar soundtrack is extraordinary. Epic, vast and poignant. And recently I’ve had Ludwig Gorranson’s fusion-filled soundtrack Oppenheimer on continuous repeat.

What's your favourite snack or drink at the cinema?

A cold beer and a bag of nuts/crisps.

What's your favourite seat at the EP?

In the middle, on an aisle.

Finally, tell us something unusual about yourself.

I was an extra in season one of Game of Thrones (episode 5) and I once spent three days hanging out with George Romero.

Everything you wanted to know...poster with film reels and question marksBen hosts the upcoming Hitchcock talk at the Electric Palace on Wednesday 11 October as part of Hitchcock Week:

Everything you wanted to know about Hitchcock (but were afraid to ask!)

Find out more about volunteering at the Electric Palace