Events
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    Danny Boyle’s Sunshine: the science behind the fiction

    By Ben Stevens, on 12 November 2014

    From Georges Méliès to Tarkovsky and Kubrick, the wonders of space have taken a special hold on the imaginations of some of the world’s most visionary film directors.

    UCL’s very own Christopher Nolan (UCL English, 1991) is the latest to offer his response with the hugely anticipated Interstellar, which opened on Friday.

    Solar2

    Before him, Danny Boyle gave us his own epic vision in Sunshine (2007) – which was shown at a special screening organised by the UCL Public and Cultural Engagement (PACE) team at the Stratford Picturehouse in east London on 28 October.

    The film, starring Cillian Murphy, follows the crew of the Icarus II as they attempt to reignite our dying Sun with a specially designed nuclear weapon that must be delivered directly into its core, if life on Earth is to survive.

    Before the screening, visitors had the chance to view the space-themed objects from UCL’s museum collections, including a meteorite, part of a crashed satellite and some historical NASA images of space. (more…)

    Open City Docs Festival 2014

    By Jack H C Dean, on 4 July 2014

    Open City Docs Festival began on 17 June with the opening gala, Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers (2014), directed by University of London alumnus Edward Owles.

    Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers

    Auction House: A Tale of Two Brothers

    The director’s opera prima tells the story of brothers Anwer and Arshad who own India’s oldest auction house, the Russell Exchange, in Calcutta. Despite the difficulties the brothers face due to the popularity of eBay, the story was light-hearted, largely owing to the good humour of the siblings.

    Anwer, who had emigrated to London in the 60s, takes on the role of pseudo-elder-statesman. He has business experience in London and returned to India four years ago to inject some expertise back into the team and educate his younger brother Arshad, who, with a paltry 40 years of management under his belt, didn’t always take too kindly to his brother’s advice.

    (more…)

    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.

    (more…)

    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.

    (more…)