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Hamlets Pop-up Cinema offers world culture on your doorstep

The Hamlets Pop-up Cinema in East London visits venues throughout the borough of Tower Hamlets, putting on exciting and thought-provoking movies. Film buffs will be salivating at the prospect of a cinema club close by them.

 The aim is to facilitate the local community to interact and have discussions as well as using the facilities in their own neighbourhood.

The pop-up screenings are well worth the money – just £3 in advance or £4 on the door – and are open to local and non-borough residents.

Tonight, the 2018 film season kicks off on 31 January with Abel, a Mexican family satire. According to a Guardian review, ‘Diego Luna makes a fine directorial debut with this insightful satire on Mexican family life.’

The venue is at an East End favourite, Moo Cantina Argentina in Brick Lane, a vibrant restaurant that has a pre-screening happy hour with cocktails on offer for £5.50.

According to Ipek Ozerim: ‘Each month, we travel to diverse venues in town centres across the borough, including those on Roman Road West, Watney Market, and Brick Lane, for screenings of films from around the world that reflect the borough’s diversity. The aim is for the local community to interact, and also drive people to discover new places in these incredible and constantly evolving town centres.’

Hamlets Pop-up Cinema
Free film course held at Four Corners on Roman Road.

Free film course

Local training offered free of charge is another part of the scheme. The first session took place in October 2017 at Four Corners on Roman Road. Run in collaboration with Cinema for All and Independent Cinema Office, The Hamlets Community Cinema Course covered programming (how to select the right films for your audience and obtain them), film licensing and legal requirements, and marketing and publicity, immersive cinema (special events), sustainability (volunteer management and fundraising), as well as the technical aspects of film screenings.

The participants varied in age and many ethnicities including African, Bangladeshi, Brazilian, English, Hungarian, Indian, Kurdish, Spanish, and Turkish. Very few had any experience of running a cinema before the training.

One student who was on the course said:’It was such a great day, thank you very much for having me around. I really look forward to this project, and will do what I can to make it a success. It is just a brilliant concept, and Balik Arts rock! I am loving it!’

Hamlets Pop-up Cinema
L-R: Tauquir Ahmed with Yeşim Güzelpınar (The Hamlets/Balik Arts) and Marie Gerring (Tower Hamlets Council)

Project leader and Balik Arts director Yesim Guzelpinar said: ‘The training was really fantastic. Great people, great content with a truly inspiring trainer!’

The Hamlets Pop-Up Cinema team have also been talking with the organisers of the East End Film Festival to discuss ways in which to work together. Important plans for 2018 include how local residents can get involved with this cultural event.

The East End Festival has been running since 2000 and is one of the UK’s largest film events.

To discover, support, and exhibit pioneering work by global and local independent filmmakers, and to introduce viewers to innovative and challenging cinematic experiences.’

– East End Film Festival

Each year the EEFF has a diverse programme of world cinema, industry master-classes, free pop-up screenings and immersive live events.

The Hamlets Pop-Up Cinema is keen to support and get involved with EEFF, working towards the festival programme, which takes place in April 2018.

Launched in September 2017 the Tower Hamlets Pop-up Cinema and is managed Balik Arts, a film charity, and funding comes from Tower Hamlets Council as part of its Thriving High Streets programme.

For more information on the training courses, email info@balikarts.org.uk with your name and address, with ‘The Hamlets Community Cinema Training’ in the subject line. You will be sent a link to an online form to complete and submit.

Award-winning film Oggatonama/The Unnamed, written and directed by Tauquir Ahmed

Hamlets pop-up cinema offers multicultural culture

Guzelpinar is keen to carry on the legacy of the film club and to work with as many venues in the borough as possible. When the funding runs out in March, she will engage in talks with Tower Hamlets Council with ideas for the pop-up cinema to become self-funding.

Ipek Ozerim the communications and PR officer for the Hamlets Pop-up Cinema said that many people who came to the Oxford House venue had no idea it was there and were thrilled that this was a local resource that they could come back to.

‘It’s important to show world cinema which reflects the community, such as the free screening of Oggatonama/The Unnamed at Close-Up Cinema,’ Ozerim says.

The Bangladeshi film won Best Director at the Washington DC South Asian Film Festival in 2016.

‘People might be expecting to see hip, blockbuster-type Hollywood films, but it is important to show movies that reflect the local community.’

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Tabitha Stapely

Tabitha Stapely is the founder of Social Streets C.I.C, a not-for-profit media company using journalism to strengthen communities, particularly those in disadvantaged or neglected areas. Prior, Stapely was a writer and editor for national titles including The Telegraph Saturday Magazine, Elle and Red magazines.

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