I happened to get involved in movies recently in a different way. I found myself running an independent cinema, completely by accident, even though it was my dream for long time. It is also the reason why I have not been blogging for a while.
Ever since my high school times in Bratislava, I enjoyed going to Film Clubs, little independent cinemas, usually located in universities or old abandoned cinemas from yesteryear, showing independent movies or cult classics from around the world, movies you would never find in mainstream cinema. Serving quality as an antidote to the Hollywood junk food. And cheap, an important factor when you are a student. They opened my film horizons, inspired me and showed me cultures I only read about in books (there was no internet then, or there was, but not in every household). Now do not get me wrong, I do enjoy the occasional no-brainer of Hollywood production on a huge screen, an escape from reality for the two hours and they also come with quality pictures once in a while, but film clubs were a different kind of experience. You had to be a member (with a cool membership card, which you could get from any of the Film Clubs and it was valid for all the others), they usually introduced the movies with some interesting facts; sometimes they showed some random short or animation. It made me feel older and very sophisticated, because even though I was always reading lots of books, our only other after school activities consisted of drinking and doing drugs.
I am now living in Cork in Ireland and to my big surprise I could not find a single place like the film clubs I remember from home. There was one called the Kino, but it was shut down shortly after mine moving here. I even considered opening one myself, but got lost in the licences issues and rent and all the bureaucracy that comes with it. But it was more of a wishful thinking, since I could not afford to invest much in such endeavour. I did find eventually two places that come very close to my idea but not quite. For one thing they are too expensive, prices in indie cinemas cannot be the same as in mainstream. Especially if a venue is so small and not really comfortable. But still it is great that somebody is doing it and their movies are great. But now there is also a third one on scene. My own. The Deja View in Camden Palace Hotel (not really a hotel)
Camden Palace Hotel is an old building in the city centre, used for various purposes in the past then abandoned, until Bertrand the artistic director of the venue talked to the owner into giving it over the artists purposes for a nominal fee. Now it provides studios and workshops for artists, who were overlooked for funding, practice rooms for musicians, they do exhibitions and theatre and they are the most amazing, inspiring bunch of people you could ever meet. It is an Artists community, which brings amazing projects to Cork, and Camden Palace tries to support them all, receiving no funds whatsoever and making money only through gigs and fundraisers, but still charging very little for any of these things.
My Cineclub is called ‘The Deja View’. I was hoping to come up with a more original name but it was all happening so fast, and my restriction was not to use the terms film, cinema or movie. It was like the game Taboo, and the name had to reflect in some way that it is a cinema without using those words. Because it is not a cinema, but a cineclub, we are not competing with cinemas out there; we are a members club that shows movies. Some legal bullshit, but I do not mind because I have my own cinema, I mean cineclub. And it is all thanks to Camden Palace Hotel (not really a hotel) who provides everything from the venue, budget, licences in other words all the bureaucratic crap you do not want to deal with. I choose the movies, make the posters, and advertise it, so all the fun part. What a great deal, I am not getting any money doing this, but I get to won my own cinema/cineclub, show my favourite movies, talk to people about films and even be the projectionist. I will be showing independent, underground and cult classic films every Wednesday. And it’s only a fiver.
My goal is to create a movie going experience (you can read it on the flyer as well). There is a cafe open beforehand, with coffee and herbal teas, some cookies and cakes. I also plan to have some snacks for free that go together with the movie (e.g. sushi with a Japanese movie). Strictly no popcorn and no coke. I always introduce the movie personally, explain something about the director or the theme. There will be a short live act ready for each film, done by the amazing Marguerite, who I mention bellow. I always have some shorts or animations ready, vintage commercials ( e.g. Doctors prefer Camel from the 60’s), trailer for the next film and I stay behind if people want to discuss the movie. I bought blankets, because it gets bit chilly even with the heating on and I want to add some couches in between the chairs to create a more homely feel.
Last week we had an opening night, again thanks to the support of Camden Palace, with a night of free movies, bake sale and wine. This is the poster my sister/graphic designer made.
One artist from Camden Palace came to me with an idea shortly before the night, that she has eight performers who would dress up as movie characters complimenting the theme of the movies I chose and will do living statues in the foyer. They will only move ever so slightly when somebody comes near, never leaving the character even when people approach them, talk to them or want pictures with them.
The most amazing was Marguerite, girl who came with the idea and who organize the whole thing in two days, who was the ‘Lady In Red’. She was holding a candelabra and standing outside in the cold for four hours and only moved her eyes when someone came to indicate the direction in which they should enter. I felt like it is somehow my fault that she is standing there, and it was in a way, but she even thanked me(!) for the opportunity to participate on my event. See what kind of people are the Camden community. I am so proud to be a part of it.
For my opening night I chose following movies. Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch, Serbian comedy-drama Cabaret Balkan, original silent Nosferatu from 1922, and a cult classic post apocalyptic sci-fi A Boy And His Dog. I showed one more movie the next day at lunch time, Japanese animation Howl’s Moving Castle but not many people came to that one. My only issue was the introductions; public speaking is not really for me. It was also my first time doing a fundraiser, first time in charge of a cinema which did not help my nerves, not like the shot of Jameson before the speech
Last night I had my first screening, Emir Kusturica’s Underground, and even though city had a flood warning for the evening, quite a few people came. We have a café open before the movie start which is great as well, my friend made a soup which could people try for free. I had some shorts and vintage commercials before the actual movie started and my sister was doing the box office. She had a table and a little money box so it was a literal box office.
All photos are by Naomi from the Darkroom who had an open day event the next day after my opening night, and who has been amazing in helping me and advising me the whole time.
I wanted to come back to writing after this long pause and it was difficult to start so I thought I will begin again with the reason why I had the “little” break and certainly not perfect but if I do not post it straight away I will just procrastinate again.
Inspired by the Daily Prompt