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Leicester’s Phoenix celebrates its 60th anniversary with exciting programme

Film, art and special events will help mark six decades as part of the city's cultural fabric.

A close up on the Phoenix building in Leicester.

A Leicester institution for well over half a century, Phoenix started life as the Phoenix Theatre on Upper Brown Street in 1963, becoming a registered charity in 1989.


Over the decades Phoenix has developed and grown, relocating to the Cultural Quarter in 2009 as a cinema and digital art centre.


On Sunday, October 8, Phoenix reaches its 60th anniversary – bigger and better than ever following the completion in January of a multi-million pound expansion, and looking ahead to an exciting future as cinema and creative technology continue to evolve.


Phoenix is marking the occasion with a thrilling anniversary weekend of film, art and special events.


In partnership with Opal22, on Saturday, October 7, Phoenix is hosting the world premiere of Casta: Origins of Caste, a new film examining the enduring legacy of one of the world's earliest forms of pictorial human classification. The film coincides with an exhibition of five restored Casta paintings at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery which were discovered in the museum’s basement in 2010 by Tara Munroe, a former trainee curator who is now Creative Director of Opal22.


Screening alongside it is Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind, a new documentary by award-winning journalist Nadine White that tells the untold stories of the Caribbean children left behind when their parents came to Britain on the Empire Windrush. Both films will be followed by Q&A sessions, and there’ll also be a Caribbean-inspired menu and a DJ set in Phoenix’s Café Bar.


On October 6, Phoenix launches its new exhibition Virtual Textual, which brings together innovative work by 12 artists from across the globe to explore the intersection of poetic writing and game-making through the use of lower impact technology.


And on October 8, people can join the celebrations in the Café Bar, with a special “Phoenix 60” draught pilsner available; and customers will be able enjoy some delicious complimentary 60th birthday cake... though latecomers may find there are only crumbs left!


As ever, there is a full daily programme of films across Phoenix’s four state-of-the-art cinema screens. Anniversary weekend highlights include Robert Aldrich’s 1962 classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane as part of Phoenix’s new film season, Hell Hath No Fury; Japanese anime sensation Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time; The Great Escaper, starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson (in her final screen role) in the heart-warming true story of an elderly WWII veteran who 'broke out' of his care home to travel to France for the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations; and Ken Loach’s latest (and probably final) film, The Old Oak – a clarion call for compassion and community.


Finally, a new artwork to celebrate Phoenix’s 60th anniversary has been commissioned from local artist Jon Attfield. The large-scale work will adorn one of the walls in the Café Bar and will be unveiled later in the autumn.

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