Every week, we round up the best film events happening outside London’s multiplexes, from major international film festivals to classic seasons at the BFI, from double bills and all-nighters to one-off screenings and in person Q&As with stars, filmmakers or experts. London also has a thriving DIY film club scene in pubs, restaurants, galleries and pop-up venues, and in the summer months you’ll find a wealth of outdoor screenings in parks and gardens across the city.
Onwards and Outwards: ‘Morvern Callar’
Onwards and Outwards is a travelling season of films directed by British women, sporting a superb lineup including work by Andrea Arnold, Clio Barnard and of course Lynne Ramsay, whose second film screens alongside the classic experimental short ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’, directed by the female-but-not-British avant garde genius Maya Deren. Ramsay's adaptation of Alan Warner's novel ‘Movern Callar’ is as visually expressive, assured in its control of mood, and adept with its cast as her debut ‘Ratcatcher’. Samantha Morton is especially good, making plausible some of the plot's more far-fetched moments.
ICA, Nash House, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH.
Sun Sep 6, 6.15pm. £11, £8 concs.
The Complete John Waters: ‘Mondo Trasho’
Everyone should see at least one early John Waters film. From the moment the picture wobbles reluctantly on to the screen, Waters’s first feature clearly demonstrates that the Baltimore boy was ahead of his time when it came to punk aesthetics and shock for shock's sake. ‘Mondo Trasho’ finds Divine lugging round the lifeless body of Mary Vivian Pearce, whom she has run over with her Cadillac convertible, all to the accompaniment of a tinny medley of '60s tunes. It’s dreadful, but we bet they had a few laughs making it.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT.
Fri Sep 4, 6.20pm. £8.35–£11.75.
Overlook Screening Room: ‘Citizen Ruth’
Alexander Payne’s 1996 debut, made before the likes of ‘Election’, ‘Sideways’ and ‘The Descendants’ shot him to superstardom, never actually received an official cinema release in the UK, so it’s good of consistently reliable film club the Overlook Screening Room to give us a chance to see it in all its big-screen glory. Laura Dern stars as a young woman navigating the thorny issue of abortion in America, and the film showcases that uniquely smart, black-comic tone that Payne would go on to refine in later works.
The Water Poet, 9-11 Folgate St, E1 6BX.
Thu Sep 3, 7pm. FREE.
An extremely rare 16mm screening of this remarkable feature-length television film, commissioned for the legendary 1970s ‘Play for Today’ single drama series. Director Alan Clarke is on fine form here, but the real credit lies with writer David Rudkin. An astonishing playwright with a visionary reach and a genuine sense of ‘deep England’ and its radical potential, Rudkin here crafts a multi-layered reading of contemporary society and its personal, social, sexual, psychic and metaphysical fault lines. Fusing Elgar’s ‘Dream of Gerontius’ with pagan belief systems and a seriously committed – and prescient – ecological awareness, ‘Penda’s Fen’ is a unique and important statement.
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX.
Sat Sep 5, 3pm. £9.50, £7.50 concs.
Smokey and the Bandit
The first CB-radio road movie to reach Britain. Despite a thin premise, the film's enthusiasm makes up for its lack of ideas. Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed accept a bet to ship an illegal lorry-load of beer back to Georgia, getting involved with Sally Field (running from marriage to the sheriff's dim son) along the way. The direction, by a former stuntman, concentrates on the action and happily leaves everyone to their own devices. Field shows what natural acting is all about, and Reynolds' send-ups of himself are pretty likeable.
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP.
Wed Sep 2, 6.30pm. £7.50, £5 concs.
The Nomad presents 'West Side Story'
Reheating ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the distressed, red-brick pressure cooker of late-’50s New York City, cine-chameleon Robert Wise and choreographer Jerome Robbins made a fine fist of transplanting the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim Broadway play to the screen. Set in a world populated by finger-clicking, stoop-dwelling greasers, a senseless turf war between rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, complicates a star-crossed romance between Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer).
Middle Temple Gardens, Middle Temple Lane, EC4Y 9AT.
Fri Sep 4, 8pm. £16–£31.
‘L’Atalante’ + ‘Zero de Conduite’
A chance to see both of tragic French director Jean Vigo’s masterpieces: short prep-school drama ‘Zero de Conduite’ and feature-length romance ‘L’Atalante’, which is not so much a film as an entire artistic vision crammed into 89 of the busiest and most beautiful minutes of celluloid ever shot. Dita Parlo plays Juliette, the smalltown girl married off to Jean (Jean Dasté, captain of L’Atalante, a grubby barge plying the waterways of rural France. Once on board, Juliette is caught between her uncertain love for Jean and her desire to see a world beyond the restrictive confines of the boat.
Ciné Lumière, 17 Queensberry Place, SW7 2DT.
Sun Sep 6, 2pm. £8, £6 concs.
Peckham & Nunhead Free Film Festival: 'Mona Lisa'
This packed festival offers screenings in bars, cafés and gallery spaces for no money. ‘Mona Lisa’ is an assured London-set thriller about the need to love. An old friend gives minor-league villain Bob Hoskins a job as chauffeur to a dauntingly elegant prostitute. This triggers one of the most affecting love stories in cinema, between a short, overweight racist and the 'thin black tart' who helps him adjust to a world he finds alien. A dark film with a generous heart in the shape of an extraordinarily touching performance from Hoskins.
The Employment Academy, 29 Peckham Rd, SE5 8UA.
Mon Sep 7, 7pm. FREE.
The Triplets of Belleville
For his feature debut, French animator and graphic novelist Sylvain Chomet crafted a wondrous, touching homage to the work of the great physical comic Jacques Tati. Dialogue is kept to a bare minimum; you could count the number of spoken sentences on one hand. This frees Chomet to concentrate on the stunning, sublimely grotesque visuals, which play delightfully with perspective and proportion.
Deptford Cinema, 39 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PQ.
Sat Sep 5, 4.30pm. £5.
Cinema Alfresco: ‘Bugsy Malone’
There’s something a bit off with Alan Parker’s ‘Bugsy Malone’. It’s not that this Prohibition-era musical, set principally in a Chicago speakeasy and peopled by young children who talk, act and sing like adults, has dated badly. It’s just difficult to pinpoint the film’s raison d’être, other than to sate the ambitions of a bunch of preening stage-school prima donnas, many of whom never graced the screen again. But it’s winningly bizarre, and the novelty of subverting character and narrative to such a grand extent must have made Parker seem like the Spike Jonze of his day.
Stoneydown Park, E17.
Sat Sep 5, 7pm. FREE.