Maxine Peake Reads A Special Poem Celebrating the Power of Cinema

Posted on 17 March 2021

Hebden Bridge Film Festival patron Maxine Peake has recorded a special poem that celebrates the power of cinema, as part of the 2021 Festival.

‘The Picture House’, read by star of stage and screen Maxine, is available to watch online.

The specially commissioned piece of work, funded by Hebden Royd Town Council, has been written by Hebden Bridge based poet and performer Clare Shaw. Her work, according to the Times Literary Supplement, is “fierce, memorable and visceral”.

Watch the video here

Tickets for the festival, taking place online this weekend (19-21 March 2021), are now on sale. The festival presents world cinema, UK and US independent features and shorts, as well as Q&A’s and panel discussions with filmmakers.

Maxine Peake, Hebden Bridge Film Festival patron said:

“As the Patron of Hebden Bridge Film Festival I am delighted to introduce you to this commissioned work, ‘The Picture House’ by Clare Shaw. Hebden has always had its own unique way of resisting the status quo and in a world of increasing inequality, where ordinary people are being “othered”, it is important to have a film festival like HBFF, which celebrates different voices and brings people together.”

Louise Wadley, Hebden Bridge Film Festival Director said:

“Thank you to Maxine and Clare for this very special poem. It really captures what is so magical about the cinema here in Hebden Bridge, something we have all been missing in the past year. We are delighted to be able to bring a huge range of films from around the world into people’s homes for the 2021 festival and as a way for our community to be together while we are apart. We can’t wait to get back to the big screen when it is safe to do so.”

The full line-up of the 2021 Hebden Bridge Film Festival is available at

by Clare Shaw

Because we gathered here,
we came in all weathers,
we breathed together.
Because we spoke our secrets to each other.
Because we shared our dreams.

Because we saw our angels on the screen.
Because miracles happened –
we could fly,
we could fall from great heights and survive.

Because this was life. because stone could hold us
and bricks could protect us.
Cinema could weather the storm
because it is formed under pressure,

because it is made of grit
and our town is a river of light.
It flows from the moorland
and down through the valley

and in rough waters,
the waves could not take us.
Because we laughed in the darkness,
because we would not give in.

Now we see ourselves reflected on the screen
because we are heroes, because we are afraid.
Because we have fallen in love with each other;
because we cannot touch each other

because we have lost each other.
Because we still stand together,
because we are other,
Because we are all the same.

And though there are miles of darkness between us
this is a way of being together.
Because you are listening,
because you are watching

the door is still open,
the lights are still blazing
and the chairs all ache to hold us in their arms.
The chairs all ache to hold us in their arms.