Surprises this December at Chelmsford Picture House.

December brings a cinematic feast to the Chelmsford Picture House's state of the art screen. From Whitney Houston to an underground campaign against the Nazis, to a child prodigy and undercover journalists,

December is filled with celluloid surprises as well as two classic films and a Christmas ballet.

‘Final Portrait' (15) on Friday 1 December, the fascinating and compelling story of Paris based artist Alberto Giacometti, who bumps into an old friend and critic James Lord and offers to paint his portrait over a couple of days in 1964. Slowly the days become weeks with no end in sight, until Lord realises that his life is being wasted by the artistic genius. However, as the portrait develops Lord starts to see the logic in the artist's chaotic mind and watches as one of the artist's last masterpieces takes shape. The Stanley Tucci film stars Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer.

‘Whitney: Can I Be Me?' (15) will be screened at 10am on 4 December as part of the Baby Cinema, which is specifically aimed at parents and guardians with little ones, and features softer volume and slightly brighter lighting. The Whitney Houston documentary by Nick Broomfield, uses never seen before footage and new interviews with the people who knew her. How did this superstar who sold millions of records, come to die at the age of just 48?

‘City of Ghosts' (18) is a hard-hitting documentary that follows Syrian citizen journalist collective ‘Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently' as they expose the atrocities and human rights abuses by ISIS in their homeland. Director Matthew Heineman follows the group as they live undercover, on the run and in exile, whilst they risk their lives exposing and standing up against evil. The documentary is screened on Thursday 7 December.

‘Lady Macbeth' (15) is set in rural England in 1865. Katherine is a young bride who has been sold into a loveless marriage with a bitter man, twice her age. His family are cold and unforgiving and she embarks on a passionate affair with a young man who works on her husband's estate. This affair unleashes a powerful force within her that makes her stop at nothing to get what she wants. The film stars Florence Pugh and Christopher Fairbank and is showing on Thursday 14 December.

‘Alone In Berlin' (12A) is the true story of an ordinary working-class couple in Berlin during World War II. When their only son is killed in battle and the fate of their Jewish neighbours appears perilous, they decide to start distributing leaflets denouncing the Nazi regime. The crime is then investigated by the police, whilst the SS are demanding that the perpetrators are found and tried for treason. Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson star in the Vincent Perez directed film which is screened on Tuesday 19 December.

‘Gifted' (12A) will be shown on Wednesday 20 December and stars Chris Evans as Frank and Mckenna Grace as Mary. In Florida, Frank is raising his young and educationally gifted niece, Mary, alone. However, Frank's plans for Mary to lead a normal school life are thrown into chaos when Frank's mother and Mary's grandmother, launches a custody case to ensure the child prodigy is separated from Frank and educated to fulfil her potential.

The restored 1954 Federico Fellini Italian masterpiece ‘La Strada' (PG) is December's Manager's Pick. The film portrays a young girl sold to a travelling strongman, played by Anthony Quinn, who teachers the girl a few tricks to help his act but treats her awfully. This film is often called one of the most influential films of all time whilst Fellini himself referred to the film being "a complete catalogue of my entire mythological world, a dangerous representation of my identity that was undertaken with no precedent whatsoever". See the film's power, simplicity, humanity and heart wrenching pathos for yourself on Thursday 28 December. As the film is the Manager's Pick, to encourage people to see a wonderful film, the film is a pay what you like when the movie finishes.

The evergreen ‘Howard's End' returns to the big screen on Saturday 30 December. The Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster's classic novel is set in Edwardian England and revolves around three families, the Schlegal's, Wilcox's and Bast's, and concerns class relations and changing times. The film stars Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins.

All of the above films, apart from the baby cinema, start at 8pm and tickets are £6.90 and £5.90 for concessions, except for the Manager's Pick which is a pay what you like.

Seasonal theatre being screened in December revolves around the Christmas themed ‘The Nutcracker'. The classic ballet is broadcast live from the Royal Opera House on Tuesday 5 at 7.15pm and is already sold out. However, there will be a chance to see a recorded performance of The Bolshoi Ballet's Moscow staged production of The Nutcracker on Saturday 9 December at 3pm. Tickets are £14.50 and £13.00 for concessions.

These are just a few of the highlights of the Winter season, for full details and to book tickets visit http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres or call the Box Office - Tel No: 01245 606505

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