Events
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    Flickering, lost, forgotten: London’s silent picture palaces

    By Sophie E Pleterski, on 10 June 2014

    Hale's_Tours_of_the_WorldWill you come with me to a talkie to-day?

    During my second film event of the UCL Festival of the Arts in two days, I was transported back to the origins of cinema in London’s ‘filmland’.  From the bright lights of Leicester Square to the back alleys of Soho, our group of fifteen retraced the steps of early twentieth-century film-goers through Bloomsbury and the West End.

    There were a few familiar faces from the previous night’s event Memories of 60s Cinema-Going, all equally curious to discover the hidden stories behind these hitherto innocuous buildings dotted around London.

    Led by Dr Chris O’Rourke (UCL Centre for Humanities Interdisciplinary Research Projects) who is researching the social experience of cinema-going in the period of silent film, we began in front of the brutish façade of the Odeon on Tottenham Court Road.

    The birth of cinema in London, we were told, was Newman Street, 1894, where private demonstrations of peepshow kinetoscope machines showing a mixture of everyday and spectacular theatrical subjects were captivating 19th century audiences.

    From these flickering beginnings, 500 cinemas opened in the London area. Tottenham Court Road alone was home to six including The Majestic Picturedrome, Carlton Cinema and The Court (not the pub) where  The Dominion now stands. Somehow they were all commercially successful, just as today’s Starbucks and Costa manage inexplicably to sell enough Americanos to reside next to each other.

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    This is Where We Came in: Memories of 60s Cinema-Going

    By Sophie E Pleterski, on 10 June 2014

    60s cinema An acre of seats in the garden of dreams.

    Trips to the big screen are often some of our fondest childhood memories. So it was no surprise that the first UCL Festival of the Arts film event was a popular one as we spent a nostalgic hour reconstructing the space of 1960s cinema in Britain through the memories of cinema-goers.

    The tiered flip down chairs of the Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre and slideshow of iconic cinematic moments—Sean Connery and Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger, Marilyn Monroe, Breakfast at Tiffanys—set the scene for Dr Melvyn Stokes and Dr Matthew Jones (UCL History) to talk about the findings of their research project, which explores how cinema shaped the collective experience of during a period of turbulent social change.

    Their research opens up questions about our notions of the relationships between memory, experience and space, as well as questioning received narratives of the 1960s decade.

    Dr Henry K. Miller (film historian and critic) complemented their talk with a discussion of his research into the history of the first university film department to open in the 60s at UCL Slade School of Fine Art.

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    Smoking at the Odeon: Memories of British Cinema-Going of the 1960s

    By Clare S Ryan, on 14 May 2013

    Cinema screen, by m4tik on Flickr

    Cinema screen, by m4tik on Flickr

    What are your most vivid memories of going to the cinema? Perhaps childhood visits to see cartoons, or seeing a film on a date? A new UCL project is asking people about their experiences of cinema-going in the 1960s, and, in doing so, raising interesting questions about what we remember about seeing films, and why.

    As part of UCL’s Festival of the Arts, Matt Jones (UCL History) gave a talk about how he is researching people’s response to 1960s cinema.

    The project is interested in how people remember films, what part cinema played in their lives and whether films have shaped their memory of the time.

    Going to the cinema seems to evoke strong memories in all of us. Even though I wasn’t around in the 1960s, my own memories – like most people’s – of going to see films are mixed up with memories of who I went with, how old I was and where I saw the film.

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    A riotous success

    By Ben Stevens, on 29 June 2012

    Four days. One hundred and thirty seven films. Numerous workshops and masterclasses. The Open City Docs Fest is every bit as frenetic and stimulating as London itself.

    Now in its second year, the festival took over the UCL campus and large parts of Bloomsbury from 21 to 24 June.

    Mission To Lars posterFunding for the festival was provided by a number of sponsors and donors, including a major contribution from Batman film director and UCL alumnus Chris Nolan (UCL English 1993) and his wife Emma Thomas (UCL History 1993), who is a Producer at Warner Brothers.

    The couple made a gift to UCL of $300,000 with the wish that the funds should be used to support new priorities and opportunities across campus. Their gift also supported the development of the Institute of Making and the Grand Challenge of Global Health.

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