News, People, The Last Word

The Last Word: Dena Blakeman – founder of the East Dulwich Picturehouse

Dena is the founder of the East Dulwich Picturehouse, which she worked on getting for many years. The building is her children’s old school St. Anthony’s and later, St Thomas More Hall.  Dena has worked in the film industry off and on for over 30-years as well as in arts community regeneration in the local area.

How long have you lived in the area?

I moved here in 1997 when my first son was two.

What brought you here?

I loved the indie shops like SMBS, Cheese Block and the houses were then affordable.

What has changed most during that time?

We’ve become known as a trendy place to live, eat, shop, drink and watch films.

What do you most value about the area/street you live in?

The schools are great, parks are beautiful and the independent shops, market, pubs/cafes and Cinema!

What one thing would you change?

The old harvester pub turned into an affordable spa.

What’s the one thing you couldn’t do without?

Films, hence the cinema.

Do you know your neighbours?

Yes.  Love thy neighbours, or I wouldn’t be here.

The most famous person you’ve seen or met?

I‘ve met many so not star struck at all, except for when I met Anthony Hopkins around the time of Hannibal and Johnny Depp when he was cool. They both made my knees go a bit.

Describe your perfect weekend

Dinner with friends and family. Park days and film nights.

What’s your favourite place for a night out?

Soho still.

What is your favourite place to eat?

Home, friend’s houses who are marvelous cooks, or Franklins for quality old fashioned English fare.

Coffee or tea? Where?

Both. Kanela’s, Jade’s, Tart

The best meal you’ve ever had?

Quo Vadis, many years ago with very special people, two of whom have since won Oscars.

Cafe, pub or bar?

All three please.

What’s your favourite place to go for a drink?

Locally Franklin’s or Palmerston, in town Kettner’s, French House, The Dog and Duck.

Where’s your favourite place to walk?

The Sydenham & Dulwich Woods

If money was no object…

I’d start my own charity, help the homeless, refugees, and disaffected youth that are sadly just killing each other, oh and build independent cinemas around the country

What book you are reading at the moment?

I’m not unfortunately, but I’m reading a script by the producer Nic Powell, (not an auto-bio on his Virgin start-up with Branson though, unfortunately).

Describe your perfect holiday

An eco beach with family & friends, good food, good books, films & cocktails at hand.

What’s your secret ambition?

To be immortal and then to die’ (J-LGodard) No, now it’ll be to see my 3 kids right who will leave something amazing behind and to work on some personal projects; stories, art, photos, films, for me to leave for others to hopefully share, love and enjoy when I’m gone.

www.newwavefilms.co.uk

This article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of SE22 magazine.