Oxford has thrown its support behind the latest Oxford Mail senior citizens’ film festival starting on Monday, December 16.

For the eighth year running, the Oxford Mail has teamed up with the Phoenix Picturehouse cinema, in Walton Street, Jericho, to present our Merry Christmas Matinee specials.

The much-loved annual festival festival gives anyone over 60 the chance to enjoy three fantastic films for the price of that day’s Mail.

The festival kicks off on Monday, December 16, at 11.00am with a spectacular screening of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, based on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel.

This is followed by the sumptuous remake of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, and finishes in true festive style on the Wednesday with the classic musical, Les Miserables, starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.

Sue Snelders, of Age UK Oxfordshire, said: “OAPs feel so ostracised by society that this is a wonderful idea. The film choice is excellent as it is contemporary and topical instead of simply churning out old black-and-white classics. And of course, the festival is very keen to welcome individuals as well as groups. Screening the films in the morning also means no-one has to go home in the dark.”

Tony Brett, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford, agrees: “I think it’s a really good idea that this initiative aims to involve and engage the older members of our community and I’m grateful to the Oxford Mail for organising it. Plus, the three films being screened this year are excellent.”

Kenny Gold, the manager of The Phoenix Cinema which hosts the annual get-together, said: “As the new general manager at the Phoenix, I’m absolutely delighted to be hosting the Oxford Mail’s Christmas Matinees.

“There’s no better way of getting into the Christmas spirit than by watching fabulous films with a free mince pie and a hot beverage. It's a fun, friendly atmosphere that I and the whole cinema are looking forward to hosting.”

Co-sponsoring the festival for a second year are Sainsbury’s Kidlington and Sainsbury’s Westgate, whose donations guarantee that each and every day fantastic prizes of champagne, chocolates and gift vouchers which will be raffled off.

Christine Norburn, PR ambassador for Sainbury’s Oxford, said: “I am proud to have the opportunity to work alongside the Oxford Mail and Phoenix Picturehouse for a second time with this year’s senior citizens film festival. Last year, I had such a laugh with all our guests that I can’t wait for this year’s to start.”

Jeremy Smith, group features editor for the Oxford Mail, said that for him the festival kicked off Christmas.

He added: “The Phoenix are marvellous, Sainbury’s are wonderful, but most importantly of all, our audiences never fail to supply that all important feel-good atmosphere which makes this annual event so memorable. We can’t wait to greet you.”

s For more information on the festival, call Jeremy Smith at the Oxford Mail on 01865 425435 or the Phoenix Picturehouse on 0871 902 5736. Tickets cannot be booked in advance. Look out for details in the paper all next week. Entry is with a copy of that day’s Mail, price 65p (but don’t worry if you forget, we’ll have plenty on sale in the foyer).