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.
BFI London Film Festival: ‘Our Man in Havana’
The London Film Festival doesn’t just screen the biggest, newest films – though there are loads of those. For the discerning, old-school cineaste there’s also a fistful of classic movies, rediscovered and remastered for a new audience. Among the highlights are Fred Zinneman’s sumptuous 1966 historical drama ‘A Man for All Seasons’, rarely seen Senegalese tragedy ‘Black Girl’ and this delightful 1959 adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel starring Alec Guinness. It’s a film that cleverly captures the confusion of optimism, cynicism and money-grubbing greed of the 'never had it so good' years.
BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT.
Mon Oct 12, 6.15pm. £9.05–£14.05.
Fires Were Started
The second in the Curzon Bloomsbury’s season of groundbreaking documentaries. Shot during World War II, short filmmaker Humphrey Jennings's one venture into feature-length drama-documentary used real firemen and real fires – kindled among the blitzed warehouses of London's docklands – with the aim of creating something more than documentary realism. It is the epic quality of the firemen's struggle that excites Jennings, and his celebration of the courage and dignity of ordinary people working together in the shadow of disaster makes the film extraordinarily impressive. His equally memorable short ‘Listen to Britain’ screens too.
Curzon Bloomsbury, Brunswick Square, WC1N 1AW.
Tue Oct 6, 3.45pm. £5.
David Cronenberg's breakthrough film follows a small group of 'scanners', or warrior-telepaths, fighting off a sinister mind-war army that is backed, indirectly, by industry and the state. Part conspiracy thriller, part political tract, it draws a dark (but bland) world in which corporate executives engineer human conception to produce ever more powerful mental samurai. It’s punctuated with spectacular set piece confrontations to dramatise the abstract, ingenious premise.
Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP.
Mon Oct 12, 8.30pm. £7.50, £5 concs.
Kinema and Kocktails: ‘Passport to Pimlico’
Perhaps the most Ealingish of the Ealing comedies, celebrating the cosy sense of wartime togetherness recaptured when the inhabitants of Pimlico, discovering their hereditary independence from Britain, set up a restriction-free (but soon beleaguered and ration-hit) state. The film is carried along on a wave of zany inventiveness (hit by sanctions, the 'Burgundians' promptly respond by having customs officers patrol the tube trains passing through their territory), while an amiable cast does well by TEB Clarke's genial script.
Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN.
Sun Oct 11, 2pm. £12.
Summer with Monika
Ingmar Bergman’s 1953 masterpiece is a tender yet unsentimental account of a love affair that turns sour. Harriet Andersson gives a precociously assured performance as a wild, feckless girl from Stockholm's poorer quarter who falls in love with a 19-year-old youth. During an idyllic motorboat holiday among the islands of the Stockholm archipelago, the girl becomes pregnant and the couple, forced to marry, set up home in a tiny, cramped flat. Very soon, love gives way to distrust and hostility.
Deptford Cinema, 39 Deptford Broadway, SE8 4PQ.
Wed Oct 7, 7.30pm. £5, £3.50 concs.
The Miskatonic Institute: Satanic Panic
The ‘Institute of Horror Studies’ – aka a monthly sit-down with talks, screenings and discussions of the history, future, meaning and impact of horror movies – returns with a look at how, in the 1980s, American mainstream culture suddenly became obsessed with a fictional idea of ‘devil cults’ around every corner. Your instructors have combed through hours of TV news, cartoons, newspapers and hair metal to present an in-depth illustrated talk on this fascinating subject.
The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, WC1N 1JD.
Thu Oct 8, 7pm. £11.
Classic Cinema Club: ‘Nights of Cabiria’
Federico Fellini’s melancholy tale of a prostitute working the outskirts of Rome is notable for its straightforward depiction of destitution. Fellini orchestrates his story in waves of simple, pure emotion, telegraphed with silent screen gusto by lead actress Giulietta Masina. With her Noh eyebrows and white bobby socks, Masina is the missing link between Charlie Chaplin and Shirley MacLaine.
Ealing Town Hall, New Broadway, W5 2BY.
Fri Oct 9, 7.30pm. £7, £6 concs.
South Norwood and Thornton Heath Free Film Festival: 'Chico and Rita'
Part of a day of modern animation hosted by this free film festival: other screenings include family favourites ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Spirited Away’. But ‘Chico and Rita’ is firmly for grown-ups: a lush and nostalgic animated gem from Spanish artist and designer Javier Mariscal and director Fernando Trueba. A potted history of the golden age of jazz in the 1940s and ’50s underscores a passionate, globe-hopping love story between Chico, a cocky but endearing jazz pianist, and Rita, a honey-toned chanteuse.
Stanley Halls, 12 South Norwood Hill, SE25 6AB.
Mon Oct 12, 7pm. FREE.
Classic '50s sci-fi, surprisingly but effectively based on ‘The Tempest’, with Commander Leslie Nielsen's US spaceship coming across a remote planet, deserted except for Pidgeon's world-wearied Dr Morbius (read Prospero), his daughter (Miranda) and their robot Robby (Ariel). An ingenious script, excellent special effects and photography, and superior acting make it an endearing winner.
Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Rd, E15 1BX.
Sun Oct 11, 4pm. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
Tufnell Park Film Club: ‘Sexy Beast’
The opening is unforgettable: Ray Winstone's belly burns in the Spanish sun, an ice-cold flannel slyly folded over his privates – and then a boulder bumps down the hill and bounces over the oblivious ex-villain's head to splash in the swimming pool. A macabre comedy played out in deadly earnest, this has dramatic heft and tension. The first two thirds are dynamite, even as nothing happens, really. Gal (Winstone) and wife Deedee (Amanda Redman) play reluctant hosts to Don (Ben Kingsley), who's intent on bringing Gal back to London for a big score. Gal refuses. Don insists. The tension racks up until something has to give, but you'll be hard pressed to guess how and where the break will come.
The Lord Palmerston, 33 Dartmouth Park Hill, NW5 1HU.
Tue Oct 6, 8pm. £15 annual membership, first film free.