Events
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    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.

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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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    Subcultures and subterfuge at Open City Docs Fest

    By news editor, on 3 July 2013

    pencil-iconWritten by Ben Stevens, Content Editor at UCL Communications and Claire Roberts, UCL French & Italian 2013

    So often, the success of a documentary comes from the level of access that the director has gained to extraordinary people or extraordinary worlds – in the process, offering an audience a perspective that they’ve never seen before.

    12 O'Clock Boys

    This was certainly what marked out several films at the recent Open City Docs Fest.

    Now in it’s third year, the festival filled venues across UCL, Bloomsbury and even further afield in Hackney from 20–23 June.

    The Opening Gala, 12 O’Clock Boys, is set in Baltimore – but while the city may be familiar to fans of The Wire, the world it captures – urban dirt bike gangs – is anything but. (more…)