Somewhere between making the effort to go to the multiplex and staying home to gaze at a laptop, there's a community-led alternative on the rise in Bristol. It's all about going to see films with your friends in spaces that feel relaxed and encourage conversation. Undoubtedly influenced by Bristol's volunteer-led microplex, The Cube, these are spaces curated by the community for the community, and there are still a few seats for the taking.
Bristol Bad Film Club
Matching film and venue with aplomb, The Other BBFC make their way around the city in style. Starting out at the Lansdown, they migrated to bigger venues as their audience grew. They regularly sell out their events in 100-seater plus venues that are chosen based on their atmosphere. The Old Police Station (The Island) was a great fit for Samurai Cop and the Planetarium certainly gelled well with StarCrash.
According to Ti, who runs the club, even if they can't find a venue to fit the film perfectly, 'as long as it has a bar, we can make it work.' In terms of the movie selection, it's guaranteed to be 'so bad it's good'. And if you're wondering where Ti finds these films, well, even the rights holders are taken aback: 'Often, they're surprised someone wants to publicly show their movies!' On April 29, David Hasselhoff is Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. All profits go to charity.
There's a lot more to silent cinema than Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, don't you know? And Bristol has its own cohort of experts and enthusiasts who meet on the third Wednesday of every month at the Lansdown in Clifton to celebrate the marvel of the moving image and its early days. Despite one or two local parking issues, the venue is a happy home for Bristol Silents whose key concern is sound isolation. They can seat up to 50 people and invite a different guest speaker depending on the film(s), which means you can have a pint and learn something at the same time. The club's next theme is a celebration of the Italian strongman, on April 15.
Lazy Dog Film Club
This is how all great adventures begin: a group of friends who couldn't get it together to go to the cinema but didn't want to watch films at home alone start their own little something. It's entirely voluntary, and super democratic – they meet up three times a year to curate the program and they're open to suggestions from the floor. They do take donations but mostly it's about seeing something great and talking about it in the bar after the credits roll. Lazy Dog takes place every other week in the pub of the same name, has comfy sofas and seats 45 film buffs. The films they choose are arty and interesting. Lazy Dog will screen The Signal on April 15.
Arts House: SeventySeven and Truth Out Cinema
From the outside, the Arts House looks a lot like your regular, cosy Stokes Croft café. But make your way to the basement and you'll find the makeshift cinema that's become home to two of Bristol's most socially- and politically-minded film clubs. On Mondays, Truth Out Cinema shows socio-political documentaries; donations are welcome, open minds a must. On Tuesdays, it's SeventySeven, whose gambit is everything from post-apocalyptic fare to rare Russian propaganda films. Whatever's on the slate, the one thing you can guarantee is that they've got comfy sofas and conversation in store.
Cannoli and Gun
There's a new guy in town and he's armed with pastry. The newest addition to Bristol's line-up of film clubs matches film with food, because who doesn't want to scoff a load of baked goods in the dark? The first Cannoli and Gun screening takes place on April 24 at the Stock Exchange Bakery and will bring together Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds with apple strudel and cream and a glass of 'ice cold milk'. Much like the BBFC folk, this is a roaming venture that hopes to take your taste buds on a monthly big-screen pilgrimage. The idea is that 'you can eat what they're eating,' so let's hope the next film is Chocolat and not Pink Flamingos.
Six reasons why you should visit The Cube.