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10 Things You Need to Know About the Lexi Cinema

Written by
Tom Huddleston

One of our favourite small cinemas celebrates its tenth birthday this month. Here’s everything you need to know about the lovely Lexi in Kensal Rise:

1. It shows everything from blockbusters to cult classics

While the main programme consists of new-release indies, arthouse titles and the occasional big-ticket blockbuster, the Lexi also finds room for more offbeat fare like their ongoing Film School project (see below). In this anniversary month there’s loads of juicy extras to sink your teeth into, including a screening of ‘The Harder They Come’ complete with a slap-up Jamaican feast.

2. It’s got heaps of celebrity fans

This summer, Lexi-goers got the surprise of their lives when Tom Hiddleston showed up unannounced, to discuss his acting debut ‘Unrelated’. And regulars still speak in hushed tones of the time Mark Rylance introduced a screening of ‘Night of the Hunter’ with an impromptu calypso number…

3. It looks – and sounds – amazing

From the outside, the Lexi is recognisable for its old-school marquee sign – funded earlier this year with a Kickstarter campaign - and for the graffitied front wall that reads ‘I AM A CINEMA – LOVE ME’. But it’s quality on the inside too, with a plush auditorium and great sound.

4. It’s truly independent

In London, most little cinemas are linked in one way or another to the big chains like Picturehouse and Curzon. The Lexi is one of the few genuinely independent venues in the city, free to pick its own film programme.

Lex appeal: inside the cinema

5. All the profits go to charity

Every penny of profit from the Lexi goes to support the Sustainability Institute in Lynedoch, South Africa, a community project and school in a part of the world devastated by poverty and historical neglect. Closer to home, it’s the only cinema in London to have a food bank collection point in the lobby.

6. It’s run by local volunteers

All the Lexi’s 50 front-of-house staff are drawn from the local community, giving up their time each month to support a London institution. Which means that unlike your average multiplex, everyone you meet at the Lexi actually wants to be there…

7. It’s got its own pop-up cinema offshoot

Popping up in locations across London, The Nomad started out in 2010 as the Lexi’s roving outdoor cinema arm. It has since screened everywhere from Brompton Cemetery to the Royal Academy of Arts, putting on summer, Halloween and Christmas events every year.

A top critic presents to one of the Lexi’ films schools

8. It’s got its own film school

Initiated earlier this year, the Lexi Film School is a series of public Monday night screenings introduced by noted film critics and experts. From established classics like ‘Citizen Kane’ to cult oddities from around the world, the series offers a thrillingly diverse and radical approach to film history.

9. It’s also an art gallery

The Lexi’s sunlit gallery space focuses on local artists – this month they’re showcasing work by Windrush generation painter Enid Richardson. Oh, and there’s an actual Tracey Emin in the cinema lobby.

10. It’s a local cinema for local people

How many cinemas in London would find time in their schedule to host a women-only film club for local refugees? Along with school screenings and senior discussion groups, this sort of project shows the Lexi’s dedication to their local community. If you’re an extra massive film nerd, you can even get married there. Tom Huddleston

Head here for all the info on the Lexi’s tenth birthday celebrations, including the chance to pick the film to screen at a special cake-and-bubbles birthday screening on Thursday, October 25.

Check out 12 of London’s coolest alternative cinemas and film clubs, from the Lexi to the Crap Movie Club. 

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