Each week, we round up the most exciting film events happening in London over the coming week, from pop-ups and one-offs to regular film clubs, outdoor screenings and festivals. Here’s this week’s top five…
Open City Docs Fest: ‘Sacro GRA’
Need a shot of hard truth? The Open City Docs Fest is London’s biggest and best documentary celebration, its five-day programme crammed with new docs and shorts, from festival award winners to premieres. A few highlights to mention include nocturnal odyssey ‘Shado’man’, about the disabled ‘Streetboys’ of Freetown in Sierra Leone; ‘Manakamana’, an intimate story shot entirely within a tiny cable car transporting worshippers to a temple high in the Himalayas; and ‘Particle Fever’, filmed over five years and following the physicists and scientists who populate the CERN laboratory. But our pick is ‘Sacro GRA’, the unexpected winner of the Golden Lion at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and the first documentary ever to nab the prize. It’s an oblique but engrossing collage of real lives lived in the shadow of the ringroad that circles Rome. Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Rd, E15 1BX. 8.30pm, Thu Jun 19 – £6.50.
John Waters All-Night Movie Marathon
The erstwhile icon of bad taste cinema may have become an ageing, even respectable grand dame, but John Waters’s early DIY efforts still retain the power to shock and offend. This six-film all-nighter includes four of his most grotesque and wonderful experiments – ‘Desperate Living’, ‘Pink Flamingos’, ‘Female Trouble’ and ‘Polyester’ – alongside the two films that brought this underground icon blinking into the light, ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Cry Baby’. If you’re not familiar with Waters’s one-of-a-kind oeuvre, this would be the perfect place to start. Take a sickbag, though. Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. 9pm, Sat Jun 21 – £25, £22.50 concs.
Anxiety Arts Festival: ‘Solaris’
The Anxiety Arts Festival continues its programme of films dealing with issues of depression and modern-day angst. This is the original Russian 1972 adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel, a mystical and powerful film that sees cosmonaut Kris Kelvin travel to a troubled (and breathtakingly designed) space station that hovers above the planet Solaris. Once there, he is forced to deal with the recent suicide of his wife Hari, who is mysteriously resurrected by the strange force of the nearby planet. Tarkovsky mixes sci-fi ephemera with solid human enquiry. Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS. 3pm, Sun Jun 22 – £11.50, £10.50 concs.
Classic Cinema Club: ‘Persona’
Another great choice from these Ealing-based film experts. In ‘Persona’, director Ingmar Bergman is at his most brilliant as he explores the symbiotic relationship that evolves between an actress suffering a breakdown in which she refuses to speak, and the nurse in charge as she recuperates in a country cottage. To comment is to betray the film’s extraordinary complexity, but basically it returns to two favourite Bergman themes: the difficulty of true communication between human beings, and the essentially egocentric nature of art. Here the actress dries up in the middle of a performance, thereafter refusing to exercise her art. We aren’t told why, but from the context it’s a fair guess that she withdraws from a feeling of inadequacy in face of the horrors of the modern world. Not an easy film, but an infinitely rewarding one. Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, W5 2BY. 7.30pm, Fri Jun 20 – £6, £5 concs.
The Hounds of Zaroff
By far the most chilling version of Richard Connell’s much adapted and imitated short story ‘The Most Dangerous Game’. There’s an authentic touch of de Sade in Leslie Banks’s performance as the world-weary big game hunter and owner of a remote island fortress to which he ensures that passing ships are attracted and then wrecked on the reefs. Still one of the best and most literate movies from the great days of horror, it is particularly effective in its measured graduation from words to action with the long, ferocious, beautifully choreographed hunt sequence, in which the human prey ironically wins the day by drawing on all his reserves of animal cunning. BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT. 8.40pm, Sun Jun 22. £8.15-£11.50.
For the full list, go to Time Out’s film events page.