Directed by highly acclaimed filmmaker Sam Mendes, “Empire of Light” is considered a love letter to the cinema and a moving drama about the power of human connection during turbulent times. Set in and around a faded old cinema in an English coastal town in the early 1980s, it follows Hilary (Colman), a cinema manager struggling with her mental health, and Stephen (Micheal Ward), a new employee who longs to escape this provincial town in which he faces daily adversity. Both Hilary and Stephen find a sense of belonging through their unlikely and tender relationship and come to experience the healing power of music, cinema, and community.
Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes (1917, Revolutionary Road, Road to Perdition, Jarhead, American Beauty) writes and directs “Empire of Light”. Mendes shared that the movie was almost entirely born out of the pandemic. “Lockdown was a period of intense self-examination and reflection for all of us. And for me it meant starting to confront these memories that I’d been wrestling with since childhood. That was the spur to write – to explore those memories and to see if I could unlock anything interesting.”
Ayala Malls Cinemas’ A-List Series release of “Empire of Light” comes at an opportune moment when the cinemas have started reeling again after the pandemic, creating parallels on the passage of time, how the cinema used to be and how movies are being projected in the contemporary world. Today, the art of film projection has largely passed to digital, but the film is part of a time when movies were projected by a skilled professional using two machines, with celluloid passing by an arclight, watching for secret signals to switch reels. It is a valentine not just to movies, but to movies as exhibited in the cinema locally and around the globe. The film was also inspired by the concern that people weren’t going to these places anymore – places where people usually gather for shared experiences.
“When I wrote the movie there was also another common obsession: we were all worried whether the cinema was going to die, along with live performances,” added Mendes. Harris also shared that, “They’re a beacon and a place that bring people together, that’s what cinema always should do and can do. It’s a place where people go who maybe don’t fit in elsewhere but can find a home and joy in that shared experience of watching a film together.”
Watch out for the other upcoming titles to be included in the A-LIST SERIES, follow Ayala Malls Cinemas’ social media pages on Facebook and Instagram for updates.