Screen Wednesday - Staffordshire Film Archive Logon


The archive was founded and developed by Ray Johnson and is housed at Staffordshire University – forming one of the Special Collections. In addition to the original archive films collected, there are many hours of complementary video material generated by Ray to inform and enhance the period films – location filming, interviews, relevant visual materials and complete documentary video productions.

All SFA screenings are free of charge and start at 7.45pm unless otherwise stated.

Please note that seats cannot be reserved - arrive early to avoid disappointment.

For more details please visit the SFA website here.

Wednesday 24 January - 6.00pm - 9.00pm


Premiere screening of Semester 1 work of final year students of the Media/Film Production degrees.

All welcome.

Wednesday 31 January


Philip Astley Circus Season

Cecil B De Mille's multi-Oscar-winning epic filmed in the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey 3-Ring Circus. Starring Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Gloria Grahame, Dorothy Lamour. Passions run high between leading characters in a narrative linking a wide range of classic act, filmed in the world's largest circus. Followed by a discussion on featuring acts with wild animals in circuses of yesteryear: acts never featured by Philip Astley – father of the modern circus himself. 

Wednesday 7 February

LA STRADA (1957)

Philip Astley Circus Season

Federico Fellini's Oscar-winning classic, Starring Anthony Quinn, Richard Baseheart, Guiletta Masina. Mingling elements of biography, metaphor and symbolism – we follow the hard work and emotional pressures of small-scale touring circus life. It combines charm with the hard-edged realism of domestic violence and decaying, desolate towns – and volcanic tempers erupt with tragic consequences. Shown in the English language version and followed by a discussion of issues raised in the film.

Wednesday 14 February


Philip Astley CIrcus Season

A story of magic and illusion spanning the decades – packed with photos and rare film footage – produced by Ray Johnson. From creating the act in a circus, through touring all types of venue in the 1950s to the international and television scene today, The Van Buren Show has become the largest Illusion act in the UK and has maintained its link with Circus. This special insight into an act acknowledged to be "the backbone of show business" is introduced by Roy Hudd. Andrew Van Buren is currently a leading light in the Philip Astley Project and will lead a Q&A and conversation after the film – and give information about all the events throughout 2018 instigated by the Philip Astley Project.

Wednesday 21 February


Philip Astley Circus Season

The great silent film by Charlie Chaplin. The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires the Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. At the time, the film was the seventh-highest grossing film in cinema history. Emphasising the visual side of circus, with clips from other films with circus themes, and followed by a final discussion on issues related to circus over its 250 years since Philip Astley first devised it as an entertainment and presented it in a 42-feet diameter ring (still the international standard today).

Wednesday 28 February: 6.00 - 9.00pm


Premiere screening of the latest films from final year students of the Media/Film Production Courses at Staffordshire University.

Wednesday 7 March


1964: THE JOLLY POTTERS – the first musical documentary at the pioneering Victoria Theatre in Hartshill: key scenes speculatively filmed for television by Philip Donnellan but never edited or broadcast. Now the original takes have been edited together by Ray Johnson following the stage script in the Victoria Theatre Archive.

1973: THE FIGHT FOR SHELTON BAR – a 1973 documentary about the struggle against the threatened closure of our steelworks, produced by Philip Donnellan working with the steelworkers themselves – but never broadcast. It show the steelworks in full production and features the important role played by The Sentinel and BBC Radio Stoke in keeping our community informed on the daily progress of negotiations. 

Wednesday 14 March


BBC Radio Stoke began broadcasting on March 14th 1968 as BBC Radio Stoke-on-Trent. This celebration has archive footage of the station in operation from day 1 – featuring the pioneer presenters and staff in action and period interviews in the formative years. This is enhanced with contributions and reminiscences from a host of broadcasters, extracts from early programmes and showing how technologies and techniques have changed over the decades. 

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Stoke Film Theatre, College Road, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2EH Registered Charity no. 504600