Documentary Screenings Reign in Bloomsbury

Mel Plant, BA Arabic and Turkish

Living in Dinwiddy last year, I walked to Russell Square everyday through a, I’m sure, familiar route to the readers of this paper. After a too-early morning walk through our local graveyard-turned-park, I would arrive onto the street adjacent to the Brunswick Centre. For the majority of the year, the old Renoir Cinema in the Brunswick was closed, and I was anticipating the opening of a new Curzon in the same location. The Bloomsbury Curzon is a comfortable, stylish cinema housed underground in what feel like warm caverns discovered under the Brunswick and renovated to fit the arthouse crowd. The aim of the game is simple: a small, 5-screen cinema in Central London and a speciality in world cinema and documentaries. With SOAS around the corner, what location could be better?

Once a sort of travelling circus of documentary cinema, the Bertha DocHouse has found its home within Bloomsbury. Twice a month is DocHouse Thursday, and there you will find documentaries being screened that are otherwise hard to find, accompanied with a Q&A with the director. If you can’t afford to make the screening, then the fascinating Q&As are uploaded onto the DocHouse’s website. Last Thursday, the pick of the day was A Syrian Love Story, a surprising take on the Syrian revolution depicted through the story of a husband and wife – two anti-regime activists – and their sons. The film will be screened at the Curzon until the 24th, but after that I’d suggest you go out of your way to find a way to watch it.  Amr and Raghda, the lovers central to the film, met in prison through a hole in the wall 20 years prior to filming, and the film follows their journey through the revolution and in and out of love. At times funny, and at others heart-shaking, A Syrian Love Story is a virtuoso look at passion, comradery and what Asad’s regime has taken from the Syrian people. The next screening, 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets on October 1st, is a tightly directed film on the shooting of Jordan Davis, an African American teenager shot dead at a petrol station in 2012. Apart from these special screenings, watching a film at the Curzon comes at a good price. All other screenings are £7 for students (£9 full price) or, if you attend before 5pm Monday-Thursday, £5 for all.

A Syrian Love Story
A Syrian Love Story

Most exciting are the cinema’s two upcoming documentary series: ‘The Rule Breakers’ and ‘Filmmakers’ Favourites’.  Starting on the 29th September – perfect if your schedule allows you a Tuesday afternoon break (or you’re already sick of classes) – ‘The Rules Breakers’ will be a series of 10 films which changed the documentary genre. Particularly stirring is the upcoming screening of Punishment Park, a revolutionary documentary based in a manufactured reality where protestors of the Vietnam War are given the choice between a long prison sentence and 3 days in a detention camp.

3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets

All actors used were either real activists or ex-law-enforcement officers. ‘The Rule Breakers’ is priced at £5 per screening, or £40 for a season ticket, and will run every Tuesday at 3:45pm. ‘Filmmakers’ Favourites’ finds its basis in a Sight & Sound poll: renowned film directors will be presenting the documentary that influenced them most every Thursday at 3:45pm, from the 8th of October. The line-up so far is populated by documentaries you’ve probably never heard of – and probably thought you’d never watch. In the lead up to winter, Bloomsbury seems like the place to be for a warm, cozy seat and a discovery on the silver screen.

Post Author: Mel Plant

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