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Leigh Film Society

2220. Elizabeth Costello
2221. Paul Costello

Elizabeth and Paul Costello, from Leigh, run the ‘Leigh Film Society’, bringing over 3,500 people from their community together every year for film screenings at the purpose-built independent cinema in a converted grade 2 * listed mill.

Elizabeth had found cinema escapism invaluable while suffering from unrelated cancer and renal failure, setting up the society in 2013 with her husband to help others feel the same therapeutic benefits. Starting as a ‘book club for films’ in a local cafe, ‘The Leigh Film Society’ now run film screenings at their own purpose built cinema to reduce social isolation, provide opportunities for young people and promote community cohesion. Working with Film Hub North, Wigan Council and other organisations, Elizabeth and Paul and Leigh Film Society volunteers provide screenings for those with autism, child and adult carers and dementia sufferers to make film accessible to all. The new independent cinema, named ‘Leigh Film Factory’, serves as a central community hub that brings members of the community together through film.

Elizabeth and Paul also run ‘The Leigh Film Festival’. The annual two-day festival provides an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers to showcase their talent through 15 minute films, ranging from animations to comedies.  Now in its tenth year, the festival continues to provide opportunities for young people, through work placements, to work in the film industry and showcases young filmmakers and filmmakers from the North West. It now receives submissions from around the world.

Lucy Frazer MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, presented the award to Elizabeth and Paul at a Downing Street reception celebrating the British Film Institute and British Film. (Elizabeth and Paul and pictured below with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Picture by Alice Hodgson / No 10 Downing Street)

In a personal letter to Elizabeth and Paul, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“You have harnessed cinema’s unique power to bring people together, by holding free screenings for people across your community, giving them a chance to escape but also to connect with others.

“The fact you have gone from screening films in a local cafe to transforming a mill into a purpose-built independent cinema is truly remarkable.

“Alongside this, over the past ten years you have also been running The Leigh Film Festival, allowing aspiring local filmmakers to showcase their talent and providing valuable opportunities for people to work in the film industry.”

Congratulating Elizabeth and Paul on their award, James Grundy, Elizabeth and Paul’s local MP for Leigh, said: 

“Paul and Elizabeth Costello have worked tirelessly to make the Leigh Film Factory project a reality, and I am delighted the Prime Minister has chosen to recognise the valuable work they have done for the Leigh constituency.”

Elizabeth and Paul said:

“We are both honoured to have Leigh Film Society recognised in this way for its charitable work with film. The development of Leigh Film Society and the building of the new Leigh Film Factory has been a labour of love of film and community led by volunteers.”

Find out more about ‘Leigh Film Society

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