Samsø - My Island

The golden palm goes to…

Ellen Lynard enters the bright foyer with the round tables from the darkness of the cinema. She straightens the palm patterned tablecloths. On February 4, 1912 the island’s first cinema called the Palm Cinema opened. Two artificial palm trees were to give the cinema an exotic feel.

Ellen is the chairman of the board of the association Samsø Film Club, which runs the cinema. She knows all about the history of the cinema but prefers to look ahead to all things new; the new films, the new technology and the new volunteers, who must be welcomed and helped in getting started with their tasks as part of the community in the association-run cinema.

Many hands make light work
An active board and 60 volunteers undertake tasks such as cleaning, selling tickets, running the kiosk and as projectionists. “There are no problems finding volunteers for the cinema on Samsø. They contact us themselves and we know we’re quite privileged like that. Interested parties are allowed to assist for a while to see if life as a volunteer suits them,” Ellen explains.

Going to the cinema should be welcoming and cosy and guests are encouraged to come up with suggestions for movies. Suggestions are passed on to Ellen, who chooses the upcoming films. There must be a wide selection on offer and on Samsø there is also an audience for indie and arthouse films. This means Ellen can be brave in choosing movies. Even if the audience stays away, the economy of the cinema is fortunately good. Ticket revenues from the arthouse films often only just cover the cost of the film hire but it is important for the board to be able to accommodate different wishes.

Only a few premieres
During holidays, films that Ellen refers to as “Wizz-Bang-Wallop children’s films” are on the programme. And then there are the premiere films. The cinema on Samsø does not show many premiering films but James Bond is always one of them. “It is quite festive to have a premiere at 00.07, where the guests arrive nicely dressed and all the volunteers have made a special effort. It costs more in film hire to show premiere movies and it actually isn’t necessary. The audience numbers are no greater than if we delay the launch by three weeks and only reluctantly do we set a higher ticket price. Our guests think it’s cheap to go to the cinema on Samsø –  but then they have more money for buying sweets in the kiosk,” laughs Ellen.

A committed chairman
It takes dedication to remain up to date in the world of film and many hours are spent doing so each week. Asked about the commitment, Ellen laughs. “I don’t really like to count the hours spent on my voluntary work in the cinema but it’s probably around 15 hours a week.” Ellen deservedly received Samsø Municipality’s Ildsjælspris (‘Fire-soul’ prize) in 2020 for her enormous commitment. It provides a meaningful purpose in life and she enjoys the contact with the volunteers and the guests who visit the cinema.

Ellen finds it hard to name her own favourite film. “All projectionists’ favourite film is “Cinema Paradiso” but otherwise I can’t point to a single film. I’m bad at remembering the films from the past because I’m constantly thinking ahead. I have a very broad taste. I watch the arthouse films but also watch Star Wars with great pleasure. There aren’t many films I don’t like. In principle, I never walk out on a film. You can’t judge a film after half an hour, so I stay until the bitter or happy end”.

You can stay up to date on current and upcoming films on the cinema’s website, at Biografen Samsø on Facebook and in VisitSamsø’s event calendar. The cinema has been updated with the latest equipment for sound and image and a very pleasant experience awaits you.

Last updated: 24/02/2021 20:36