Spring 2015 sees the exciting opening of the Bertha DocHouse – the first cinema screen in the UK dedicated to documentaries – at the new Curzon Bloomsbury (formerly the Renoir). With an eclectic schedule of master-classes, seasons and festivals to complement screenings of cutting-edge contemporary docs, it hopes to become the best place in London to watch documentaries as well as a hangout for film buffs.
To celebrate the opening, DocHouse is screening a ‘Best Of’ season, featuring the top ten films from its archive and hosting Q&A sessions with a stellar cast of directors, producers and cinematographers. The first six will be shown at Birkbeck Cinema, with the final four to be screened in the brand new cinema. Here’s a summary of what’s on offer. Here’s our summary of what’s on offer in March at Birkbeck.
March at Dochouse
Continuing the line-up are a series of documentaries covering a vast range of topics. Kicking off the month on the 5th March is Enemies of Happiness, with Q&A from cinematographer Zillah Bowes. In 2003, 25 year old Malalai Joya stood up in a meeting and courageously attacked government policy on the Taliban and tribal warlords. She was thrown out of the meeting and banned from future events. Two years later, in the face of trenchant opposition and multiple death threats, she ran for election in Afghanistan’s first democratic election in 35 years and the first in which women were able to vote. Director Eva Mulvad tailed Joya during her campaign, and the vividly depicted Enemies of Happiness is the result.
Olly Lambert’s Bafta winning Syria: Across the Lines is the newest doc to screen during the season, coming to the Bertha screen on March 12th. Lambert made his perilous journey to the war-torn country in 2012, where he stayed on both sides of the Orontes valley. Before the war, Sunnis and Alawites had lived on opposite banks of the Orontes peacefully. These days the river divides the Free Syrian Army on the one side from government soldiers and Assad loyalists on the other. Syria: Across the Lines paints a lucid portrait of a country ravaged by war, where bombs drop freely, bullets ratchet across the river and a once harmonious co-existence is destroyed by sectarian and political conflict. This is must-watch for anyone who wants to gain a deeper and more personal understanding of the war.
Small or isolated communities on the brink of survival are the subject of three further films. Village at the End of the World takes us to the sequestered village of Niaqornat in remote Northern Greenland. This tiny town has only 59 inhabitants (some of whom, like the only teenager Lars, are desperate to leave), but is having to face up to a very big global problem - melting ice due to climate change.
Also showing is Senna, the story of the swashbuckling Brazilian – widely regarded as the best Formula One Driver ever – whose life ended tragically early in a crash in 1994. Through an arresting wealth of archive footage, this film charts with biting poignancy Senna’s record-breaking career, his vicious rivalry with French driver Alain Prost, and his attempts to improve race-track safety in the years before his own death.
Senna director Asif Kapadia has just announced that his new documentary about Amy Winehouse will be released later this year. This screening of Senna will be a brilliant opportunity to see Kapadia's award-winning first feature on the silver screen ahead of this exciting release.
|What||Best of Documentary: March DocHouse Launch|
|Where||The Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Russell Square (underground)|
05 Mar 15 – 26 Mar 15, Thursday afternoons, 19th February – 30th April
|Price||£40 Season Ticket, £5-£8 per individual screening|
|Website||Click here to book via the DocHouse website|