I don’t make resolutions at New Year but this year I promised myself that I would get back to one of my passions and go to the cinema more.
Things haven’t quite gone to plan so far. I had a splendidly bizarre evening back in February visiting Barts Pathology Museum and watching the 1920 silent film of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I have also seen The Lego Movie (nothing more to say on that). But, considering the fact that May is a-beckoning, it’s not a bumper year so far. Yet.
It probably doesn’t help that I live in a desert of cinemas. As the wonderful website Lewisham’s Lost Cinemas shows, Lewisham is one of only two London boroughs (the other is Waltham Forest) with no surviving cinemas. I almost cried when I saw that The Ritz/Brockley Picture Theatre/Giralda Cinema/New Palladium Cinema used to stand within walking distance of my home. Long since, it was demolished in 1960.
Anyhow, things are about to change as the New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival kicks off this Friday. The festival is a member of the Free Film Festivals not-for-profit community group, run by volunteers entirely for the fun of the local filmgoing public. The NXD version is in its third year and promises 40 films across its 10 days, which will be shown in pubs, schools, pool saloons and pattie shops across two postcodes. My picks? There are so many. How about watching the promo to whet your appetite…
The outdoor events, powered by bike pedalling courtesy of the mega Electric Pedals, are definite highlights – especially if we get dry weather. This Saturday there are two: firstly, one for the kids at Old Tidemill School with a double bill of Project Wild Thing, the documentary about the movement to get kids outside and reconnecting with nature, being shown along with Hearts, Farms and Gardens, about the city farms and community gardens in London.
Then later in the day we have Attack the Block showing at Fordham Park, following a live DJ set at 7pm. Particularly relevant as the Heygate Estate (where it was shot) finally enters its last phase of demolition.
The following Saturday we have the great crowd pleaser of Singalong Grease, showing in Telegraph Hill Park. There is already talk of dressing up (and not just for the cold) so if you harbour a PVC cat suit, now may be the time to get it out. Or maybe not.
Other than the bike-powered events, I am looking forward to so many more. For instance, the opening film at the Big Red Pizza bus, the Supermen of Malegaon, sounds like a lovely documentary about a group of Indian film lovers who make their own low-budget blockbusters.
I also like the sound of the triple bill of Film Africa, put on by Deptford Film Club on 26th April at New Cross Inn, showing films from Kenya, Ghana and Senegal. Also, the podcast chappies South London Hardcore are screening Once A Jolly Swagman at No 178 on New Cross Road on 1st May, a 1949 film featuring Dirk Bogarde, Sid James and Thora Hird, and filmed locally at the old New Cross Speedway track (which used to be opposite the old Millwall Den).
My last main highlight has to be the screening of O Brother Where Art Thou which is being organised by Salt and Pepper Cinema and is happening at the Old Police Station in Deptford on 2nd May. This venue still has its cells, where local musicians Danny & The Moonlighters and The Hellfire Orchestra will be performing before the film starts.
And if none of the above float your boat, how about watching The Hustler in Shades Pool Hall, The Harder They Come in Honey’s, two consecutive nights of Film Noir at Gallop or But I’m a Cheerleader at the Amersham Arms?
I suppose there is one up side to having no cinema in the borough. At least it encourages festivals like this to flourish, and all the screenings put on by local venues and film clubs such as Big Red Pizza, Deptford Film Club, Cinetopia, all the Free Film Festivals group (includes Camberwell, Peckham + Nunhead and Herne Hill festivals, as well as NXD), the Bechdel Test Film Club and the Film Club at number82 to name a handful.
I for one am so excited about this year’s festival. Hope to see you at one of the events. If you go and see something, don’t forget to drop a coin or two into the bucket, that way we can have another festival next year.