It’s a quiet Saturday morning in downtown London. The traffic flows with ease and the buses run on time. Within the hush of the grey cloudy day resides Citi Plaza, where the sound of empty escalators and runners at Goodlife whir, holds a hidden gem of festivity. Up on the top floor, Rainbow Cinema hosts a screening of the newest Star Wars Movie for London’s underprivileged children.
Flashing toy lightsabers, tiny Sith Lords and Jedi bounced about in an excited frenzy before the film with their grinning parents in tow and before the families entered the world of The Force Awakens, the children had a chance to interact with colourful cosplayers. In front of the backdrop of corporate logos, the eager moviegoers pose with the cosplaying likes of Han Solo and Darth Vader.
At first sight, Janet Cox, a member of the London Rogues Star Wars club, appears to be Ahsoka Tano. However, this Jedi was invited to the event as a cosplayer to help entertain the children. She’s been a Star Wars fan as long as she can remember. On a personal level she “loves sharing Star Wars with other people and seeing how happy [the kids] are when they interact with us [cosplayers].”
Cox isn’t the only person delighted to see their generosity come to fruition in such a joyful way. Shawn Adamsson, chief culture officer at Ellipsis Digital, one of the event organizers, was pleased to bring the wonder of this film to these kids. Although he wasn’t in costume, he exuded a type of well-natured tired content that only comes after the hard work of giving.
He describes how his business partner came to him before the Christmas break and said, “You know, there’s probably a lot of kids who can’t afford to see [Star Wars].” And…Star Wars is about a poor farmer who saves the universe…and I would argue that it’s most important for these kids to see this movie.”
The spur of the moment idea came to fruition with a single Facebook post. Adamsson attributes the success of the short notice event to the philanthropic power of over 20 local companies.
“I’m a very proud Londoner … to see all of that outpouring in literally three days,” Adamsson said.
The film wasn’t the only thing that came for free, but the concession snacks as well.
“A movie is an experience,” Adamsson insists. “And part of that is the snack and part of that is the film and part of it is just being with your family and friends when it happens. So if we didn’t have the concessions open and Rainbow couldn’t make that happen for us and the money didn’t come, in it wouldn’t have been full experience … and because of everyone’s support that’s happen.”
After the families file into the dark halls of the cinema in a haze of anticipation, the cosplayers, corporate reps and Ellipsis volunteers ease into packing up. In a state of relaxation they gather up their ray guns and storm trooping helmets. Rainbow employees busy themselves cleaning up from the rush of a kid’s popcorn quotas and the cinema’s lights cast warm reds and pinks into the calm lobby.
A few stragglers make the trek to the bathroom and ready refills. A quiet young boy beams as shows off his lego Star Wars figures as he grabs his Twizzlers and CocaCola. He hurries off back into the theatre excited to see the next scene. Like many of the children, he bounds with an extra bit of energy in his step.
Martha Mattice is guiding one of these wide eyed tiny stragglers. A spoiler talking, well-versed grandmother at the screening carries the same sort of bounce in her step.
“It’ll be awesome for them [and] it’ll impact them for a long time.…The fact that they got their pictures taken with the characters also helped,” Mattice said. “That’s something, a memory, that they’ll have for the rest of their lives.”
A Star Wars fanatic herself, Mattice eagerly questions the origins of Rey and the plot of the movie before she makes it back into the theatre with a smile on her face and tots in tow.