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London on film, East End film festival, July 4 'Independence Day' screening and more film fun

Tom Huddleston

Each week, we round up the most exciting film events happening in London over the coming week, from pop-ups and one-offs to regular film clubs, outdoor screenings and festivals. Here’s this week’s top five…

1. East End Film Festival: 'Welcome to Leith'

The name may suggest extreme hipsterdom or movies shot entirely in rhyming slang, but the East End Film Festival is now the second-biggest annual cinema event in the capital, with 12 days of premieres, talks, short films, gigs, workshops and parties. The 18-strong competition strand covers everything from dramas like Ethiopian sci-fi ‘Crumbs’ and homegrown terrorism tale ‘Norfolk’ to docs like the soulful ‘Amy’ and this thunderous racism-in-America exposé, about a town taken over by white supremacists.

Hackney Empire, 291 Mare St, E8 1EJ. Fri Jul 3, 6.30pm. £11.60, £10.60 concs.

2. London on Film: 'Night and the City'

The BFI’s big summer season explores the capital on screen. This is a wonderfully bizarre film noir with Richard Widmark as a small time nightclub tout trying to hustle his way into the wrestling rackets, but finding himself the object of a murderous manhunt when his cons catch up with him. Set in a London filled with dark alleyways, it presents the city in neo-expressionist terms as a grotesque, terrifyingly anonymous trap.

BFI Southbank, Belvedere Rd, SE1 8XT. Fri Jul 3, 8.50pm. £8.35–£11.75.

3. ‘Loves of a Blonde’ + ‘Closely Observed Trains’

A glorious double bill of mid-’60s Czech New Wave wonders. ‘Loves of a Blonde’ is Milos Forman's second film, and a small gem. The story is almost classical in its simplicity: a girl meets a young pianist at a dance hall, and they spend a happy night together. But she takes the affair altogether more seriously than he does. ‘Closely Observed Trains’, meanwhile, is set during the German occupation but totally immersed in the problems of a young man taking his first job as an apprentice platform guard with the firm resolve to do as little work as possible while others slave.

Regent Street Cinema, 309 Regent St, W1B 2UW. Sun Jul 5, 2.30pm. £11, £10 concs.

4. Close-Up on John Cassavetes: 'A Woman Under the Influence'

To celebrate the opening of their new cinema, Close-Up is screening a month-long tribute to a giant of American film. This is one of Cassavetes’s best films, with a plot that manages to be political but without succumbing to any crass statements. Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk play a lower middle class couple with three kids, whose combined temperaments produce a potentially explosive emotional energy. An astonishing, compulsive film, directed with a crackling energy.

Close-Up Film Centre, 97 Sclater St, E1 6HR. Sun Jul 5, 8pm. £10.

5. Independence Day

It’s July 4 – time to kick the tyres, light the fires and kick some alien ass. In this goonish sci-fi classic, massive metal spaceships loom over the cities of the world. Annihilation of the human race is on the agenda. But US President Bill Pullman, a wimpy ex-fighter jock, listens to communications expert Jeff Goldblum, and the survivors regroup at a secret military base in New Mexico to organise the fightback. Everything feels anti-climactic after the initial fireworks, but the moral is clear: it's the end of the world as we know it. And we feel fine.

Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. Sat Jul 4, 8.45pm. £11, £8.50 concs.

For the full list, go to Time Out’s film events page.

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