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David Williams is the manager of Oxford's best loved arthouse cinema, the Phoenix Picturehouse on Walton Street

My Oxford: David Williams

David Williams is the manager of Oxford's best loved arthouse cinema, the Phoenix Picturehouse on Walton Street
"The sheer diversity in the people of Oxford is amazing – we are very lucky"

Having opened its doors more than 100 years ago, the Phoenix Picturehouse today continues to provide audiences with a wide and diverse programme of independent, international and mainstream releases.

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Oxford?

I've worked in Oxford for seven years, having moved here with my wife (then fiancé) when I was looking to move from a small independent cinema chain to a multinational group.

Ironically, seven years later, I'm back at an independent chain and couldn't be happier. I've lived and worked in many places over my career, from small Welsh towns to the capital, and none of them have had the charm of Oxford.

What are your favourite haunts around the city?

It's difficult to know how to pick a favourite place as Oxford has so many historic and interesting places. Sometimes, though, it's the simple things that bring us the most joy, and there can be few things more relaxing than sitting in the beer garden of one of the many restaurants occupying the riverside and watching the world float past on a summer's day.

What to you are the most iconic aspects of Oxford?

I don't think it's possible to have spent any time in Oxford and not think of the 'dreaming spires' whenever talking about the city. Few cities have such an iconic and instantly recognisable skyline, there's an incredible amount of history contained within Oxford and whether it's one of the fantastic museums or the universities themselves, it's all contrasted against an incredible sense of vibrancy and life.

Where do you eat and drink?

I don’t think I have one particular favourite in Oxford. We truly are spoilt for choice, and even in Jericho where the cinema is located, you could never want for more food choices – if you're after a quick Mediterranean lunch, some Spanish Tapas, Italian or a fish dinner, it's all here.

What about Oxford has inspired you or helped your creative process?

The sheer diversity in the people of Oxford is amazing – we are very lucky to have people from many different countries and backgrounds, living, studying and working in Oxford.

The different cultures and views on offer mean it's always easy to find a new way of looking at things. After all, there aren't many places where you can have a conversation with a college professor who has lived here their entire life and then five minutes later chat to a foreign student who is experiencing the city for the first time.

What’s the worst or least attractive thing about Oxford?

Ha! This one's pretty easy - I don't live in the centre of Oxford, so the commute (despite the fact Oxford has fantastic bus, and soon rail, services) can still take a very long time, often longer than it would take me to get to London.

Do you have an area, street or village in Oxfordshire that is special to you?

Having lived here for several years, I have many fond memories of different areas in the county, but the one that will always stand out for me is where my wife and I got married: The Holt Hotel, just outside of Bicester. It's a 15th century coaching inn and provided an incredibly picturesque backdrop to our big day.


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