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THIS weekend Saffron Walden residents will get the chance to be part of history as the first outdoor film screening takes place on the Common.

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The free, large-scaled open-air screening of the much-loved crowd-pleaser Mamma Mia! is being hosted by the Cambridge Film Festival and Saffron Screen to celebrate the town’s community cinema and as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

But aside from pulling the far corners of the community together for a fun night out, the event takes on a socio-economic responsibility...it is part of the Cambridge Film Festival’s groundbreaking Screen Team project, a unique events and training programme for young people.

Inspired by the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the project aims to inspire young people not in work or education to take part in volunteering activity and help them to build their skills and confidence by playing an active role behind the scenes – and screens – at outdoor film events... and so improving their chance of future employment.

Sam Grant, 23, pictured, was eager to get on board with the project after graduating in film studies from Canterbury Christchurch University. He was part of the Screen Team last year and has taken up an internship with the trust which runs the festival this year.

The Hinxton resident has been given specialist training by industry professionals and an opportunity to develop the practical and technical skills relating to film projection, customer service, and marketing.

“It has helped me a lot,” he told the Reporter. “When I left university I wasn’t too fussed about the career I wanted to get into as long as film were at the centre of it. I came across this project and thought it would be a great opportunity to get extra experience.

“Lots of people are keen to get into this, but there isn’t much out there in terms of jobs. I’m just trying to pick up as much as possible so that, when the right job does come up, I tick all boxes.”

Established in 1977, the Cambridge Film Festival is the country’s third-longest running film festival after Edinburgh and London. This year’s festival, the 32nd, is set to push boundaries further still, extending its reach beyond its core dates – and its home city – to reach wider audiences.

Sam belives Saffron Screen on the Green will do wonders to raise awareness of the festival and Saffron Screen alike.

“We’re all looking forward to it. My favourite thing about this event is that is something to share in the community.

“The Common is a great location – perfect in fact – and Mamma Mia! is a real crowd-pleaser so it should be a great night. Watching a film outdoors completely changes the dimension. People who enjoy the film will enjoy it even more outside in a crowd.

“It will be really good for the town and, if successful, people will want to come back.”

• ‘Doors’ to Saffron Screen on the Green will open from 6pm and the film will be projected onto a giant inflatable cinema screen when darkness falls, at around 8pm, on Saturday (September 8). Tickets are not required. There will also be free screenings of rare archive films, including fascinating footage of the region from days gone by.

Family and friends are urged to sing and dance along to the joyous sound of ABBA Classics.

Julie Kendall, Saffron Screen cinema director, said: “We are delighted to be co-hosting what we understand to be the first ever free outdoor film screening on Saffron Walden Common.

“This event is our way of thanking the community for their incredible support of our not-for-profit independent cinema over the past six years.”

Locally produced food and drink will be available to purchase on site, or you may bring picnics.

More information about Saffron Screen on the Green is available from saffronscreen.com

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