A season of dementia-friendly film screenings is coming to Hitchin, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Film Audience Network (FAN). Hitchin Film, in conjunction with advocacy charity POhWER, will host the screenings in the Studio at the Market Theatre on Sun Street.

The screenings are made dementia-friendly through the use of brighter lighting, quieter sound and an interval. They seek to offer a safe space where those who live with dementia and their carers can engage with the community in a calm and happy environment. The Wetherspoons next door is also allowing drinks to be pre-ordered for the interval.

Maria Meehan, who works for POhWER and volunteers for Hitchin Film, set up the initiative. She said: “We are aiming for an atmosphere that is accepting and welcoming – people can bring a blanket or a favourite cushion, a thermos flask, sandwiches and whatever is going to make them feel comfortable. I think the musicals in particular will go down well, as everyone will be able to sing along.”

Tim Ray, from Hitchin Film, said: “Hitchin is a dementia-friendly town. We are so excited to have been awarded this funding as it allows us to play our part and it means Hitchin Films can strengthen their partnerships with a new community group.  We want to get film used and shown across the town in as many ways and to as many groups as possible.”

Jane Marland, Chair of North Hertfordshire District Dementia Action Alliance, said: “We‘re delighted that Hitchin Film and the Market Theatre have come together with advocacy group Pohwer to put on a season of dementia-friendly screenings. Actions like these send a strong and clear message that our objective of making North Herts a dementia-friendly community is achievable.”

The ten pilot screenings are as follows:


11th January: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei's fiancé, as well as a rich, enamoured old man and many other doting admirers. 91 minutes.


25th January: On the Town (1949)

Three sailors on a day of shore leave in New York City look for fun and romance before their twenty-four hours are up. 98 minutes.


8th February: Duck Soup (1933)

Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighbouring Sylvania over the love of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale. 68 minutes.


22nd: Calamity Jane (1953)

The story of Calamity Jane, her saloon, and her romance with Wild Bill Hickok. 101 minutes.


8th March: The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbour to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers. 78 minutes.

15th March: Stormy Weather (1943)

The relationship between an aspiring dancer and a popular songstress provides a retrospective of the great African American entertainers of the early 1900s. 78 minutes.

12th April: Jungle Book (1967)

Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization. 89 minutes.


26th April: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

A "typical" day in the life of The Beatles, including many of their famous songs. 87 minutes.


10th May: Bugsy Malone (1976)

The classic gangster story of Bugsy Malone told with an all-child cast. 93 minutes.


14th June: Jailhouse Rock (1957)

After serving time for manslaughter, young Vince Everett (Elvis Presley) becomes a teenage rock star. 96 minutes.