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Ümit Mesut, co-founder of Ciné-Real
Photograph: Andy ParsonsÜmit Mesut, co-founder of Ciné-Real

Why I love Ciné-Real, London’s monthly 16mm film night

Written by
Katie McCabe

Katie McCabe believes this 16mm film club is the best movie night in town

It’s run by a London legend 

What makes a Ciné-Real screening different from a normal night at the cinema? Its organiser, trained projectionist Ümit Mesut (pictured above), set up the night with the help of film director Liam Saint-Pierre. Mesut is the owner of Ümit & Son, a film emporium in Clapton that’s filled with towers of Super 8 and Super 16 film reels. Ever seen ‘Cinema Paradiso’? Well, Ümit is Alfredo, only with an East End accent and a more impressive moustache. 

The programming is unpredictable

Ciné-Real exclusively screens movies on 16mm, but undamaged film reels are not easy to come by so there is a limit to what can be shown. That distillation of choice can be a blessing, as there’s no set theme. The only aim is a great cinematic experience, whether that means a screening of ‘ET’ or Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’. 

It’s a form of time travel

Ciné-Real events take place in the art deco diamond that is The Castle Cinema. Ümit projects each film, so you can see him in his element, working with his own equipment just a few seats away, and listen to the whirr and snap of the film as it plays. There’s even an intermission to allow reel changes. 

It can change the way you think about film

Fetishisation of the past can be exhausting, but Ümit’s commitment to celluloid is infectious rather than preachy. As he explains to the audience before most screenings, a film on 16mm can reproduce colours that digital cannot, at least not in the same way. Ciné-Real isn’t a resistance against digital, but an elegant case for why both formats should coexist.

You can watch 'The Way of the Dodo' in full on Vimeo.

To see Umit photoshopped into classic film posters, check out the Ciné-Real Instagram

Next screening: ‘The Maltese Falcon’. The Castle Cinema. Homerton Overground. Jan 23 and 26. £10. Find out more here

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