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Nominate your Cinema Heroes in celebration of Sam Mendes’ Empire of Light

To celebrate the UK release of Empire of Light on January 9th, Searchlight Pictures has partnered with the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) to launch a nationwide competition to celebrate the UK’s ‘Cinema Heroes’ – those who have dedicated their careers to keeping the magic of the big screen alive for communities throughout the country. From the box office, projection, managers, to anyone who has helped keep the cinema flame alight.

Nominations are open now and can be submitted here at the UKCA website nominate your local ‘Cinema Hero’, please explain in 250 words or less, why the person is a hero and explain the exceptional contribution they have made to their workplace and/or individuals (whether staff or customers).

Welcoming the launch of the competition, Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UKCA said, “We are delighted to support the UK Cinema Heroes competition, shining a spotlight on those who – just like the team featured in EMPIRE OF LIGHT – work hard every day up and down the country to make our cinemas tick and keep audiences entertained. We look forward to working with Searchlight Pictures and the team behind the movie in reading their nominations and picking the winners.”

The winning ‘Cinema Hero’ will win a trip for two to Hollywood plus a pair of tickets to an upcoming Searchlight Pictures red carpet event in London. Searchlight will also provide a staff party package at the winner’s cinema to celebrate their victory with their colleagues.

Set in and around a faded old cinema in an English coastal town in the early 1980s, EMPIRE OF LIGHT follows Hilary (Olivia Colman) a cinema manager struggling with her mental health, and Stephen (Micheal Ward), a new employee who longs to escape this provincial town in which he faces daily adversity. Both Hilary and Stephen find a sense of belonging through their unlikely and tender relationship and come to experience the healing power of music, cinema, and community.

You can read our reviews of the film here and here.

Two runner-up ‘Cinema Heroes’ will each win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Searchlight Pictures or Disney red carpet event in London including dinner, travel and accommodation.

Nominations close on January 9th and winners will be selected within 20 business days of the closing date.


The top 10 entries will be selected by Searchlight Pictures and those will then be judged by a panel consisting of EMPIRE OF LIGHT filmmakers, representatives from Searchlight Pictures and the UKCA will select one first prize winner and two runners-up winners.

Selection of the winners will be made based on the explanation of exceptional contribution made to the workplace and/or individuals (staff or customers), how the individual has gone above and beyond expectations, and inspired others to achieve their full potential.

Nominations are now open and can be submitted at the UKCA website:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT will be released in UK and Irish cinemas on January 9, 2023

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