RADIANT CIRCUS hunts out London’s best independent movie nights, film events & gallery screenings. Find out what’s booking this month with our DECEMBER roundup*.
It’s time for our monthly monster…
We’ve overlooked (many…) screenings of ELF, HOME ALONE and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE to bring you this month’s roundup. As is our bent, we’ve prioritised one-off events – including those with added value features (Q&As, Intros & Discussions) – and shorter seasons to hunt out the overlooked and underappreciated. We’ll catch up with longer festivals and seasons in our weekly SCREEN GUIDES.
Speaking of which… Let RADIANT CIRCUS keep you up to date with what’s screening across London by subscribing to get weekly GUIDES in your in box (link below) and following for daily updates on Twitter and Instagram.
Before we go any further…
NOW BOOKING: BIG TOP ATTRACTIONS (by venue)
QUICK LINKS (use ‘back’ to return to the top): ARTHOUSE CROUCH END // BARBICAN // BERNIE GRANT ARTS CENTRE // BFI SOUTHBANK // CANADA WATER CULTURE SPACE // THE CASTLE // CINÉ LUMIÈRE // THE CINEMA MUSEUM // CLOSE-UP CENTRE // CURZON // THE DAVID LEAN // DEPTFORD // DOCHOUSE // EVERYMAN // GENESIS // HARINGEY INDEPENDENT // HITHER GREEN // THE HORSE HOSPITAL // ICA // THE INSTITUTE OF LIGHT // JW3 // LUX // MOTH CLUB // PHOENIX // PICTUREHOUSE // PRINCE CHARLES // REGENT STREET // RICH MIX // RIO // SHORTS ON TAP // STANLEY’S FILM CLUB // STOW FILM LOUNGE // TATE // TENDERPIXEL // WHIRLED // WHITECHAPEL GALLERY // FILM FESTIVALS (BY DATE).
ARTHOUSE CROUCH END
MENASHE + Q&A with writer Alex Lipschultz (08 DEC 18:40)
Shot in secret entirely within the Hasidic community, MENASHE looks at the bonds between father and son and sheds light on a notoriously private community. The film also enjoys a long run at JW3 (below).
Celebrate a centenary of Finnish Independence with a film programme curated by the Midnight Sun Film Festival (until 03 DEC). We really like the look of LITTLE WING (03 DEC 16:00), “a touching and funny kind-of-road-trip movie, about a young girl on a personal quest”.
JOHN AKOMFRAH PRESENTS… continues screening the artist’s hand-picked political films with one of our Cuban favourites, MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT (12 DEC 20:45) which is set in 1961, between the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion and the missile crisis.
In the general programme, we like the look of FREE CECE! (09 DEC 16:00), a moving doc about a trans woman who, after being attacked, was prosecuted and incarcerated in a men’s prison. Then there’s a preview of DARK RIVER + SCREEN TALK with Clio Barnard (11 DEC 18:30), director of THE SELFISH GIANT & THE ARBOR. LA JETÉE + THE BLOOD OF A POET + Presentation from Nicky Clayton & Clive Wilkins (12 DEC 18:30) explores the shifting nature of memory and how time unfolds.
BERNIE GRANT ARTS CENTRE
THE WATERMELON WOMAN (01 DEC 19:30)
A black filmmaker finds a reflection of herself in cinema history.
THE OWLS (08 DEC 19:30)
Four women conspire to hide a crime, little guessing at the consequences.
MOMMY IS COMING (09 DEC 19:30)
Cheryl Dunye’s “sassy, raunchy, romantic sex comedy” set in Berlin’s edgy underground.
Previews we’re excited about include HUMAN FLOW (04 DEC 20:10) and THE MAGIC FLUTE (16 DEC 18:00), a precursor to next year’s INGMAR BERGMAN season (JAN to MARCH 18). The EXPERIMENTA strand treats us to DANCING WITH FRED ASTAIRE, a book launch, screening and Q&A with legendary director Jonas Mekas (05 DEC 18:00) whilst our Christmas indulgence will be GREMLINS + Q&A with actor Zach Galligan (08 DEC 20:20). The ICO Archive Day (07 DEC) includes two delicious screenings: THE LONG MEMORY in 35mm + INTRO (18:10) and RAPSODIA SATANICA + SHORTS (20:10).
Headline thriller season WHO CAN YOU TRUST? includes contributions from SILENT CINEMA (THE FOUR JUST MEN + INTRO, 03 DEC 16:20) and EXPERIMENTA (THE THRILLER: THE FOREIGNER + RAW NERVES, 13 DEC 20:30) strands. We like the look of THE LOST HONOUR OF KATHARINA BLUM (12 & 17 DEC) and always enjoy a Double Bill: choose from ‘Adrenaline’ (RUN LOLA RUN & VICTORIA, 02 DEC 18:20 & 20:20) and ‘Michael Mann’ (MANHUNTER & HEAT, 09 DEC 16:15 & 19:00).
GOOD AT BEING BAD, the Gloria Grahame season, finds its part two. It’s Christmas, so why not treat yourself to OKLAHOMA! (17 DEC 14:50 on NFT1 – other dates/screens available). INDIA ON FILM projects a freshly restored cinema great, all on one day – Satyajit Ray’s APU TRILOGY (10 DEC): PATHER PANCHALI (14:50), THE UNVANQUISHED (17:30), and THE WORLD OF APU (20:10).
AFRICAN ODYSSEYS returns with THE CEO + Q&A with actor Wale Ojo (02 DEC 20:10) and BFI FLARE gives us PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMAN + DISCUSSION on LGBT subtexts in superhero narratives and comics (14 DEC 18:00).
Heading to the back of the brochure, it’s all about the niche (our natural home): SONIC CINEMA returns with ONE MAN’S MADNESS + Q&A with star and subject of the film, saxophonist Lee Thompson (01 DEC 20:45); and, CULT delivers seasonal shockers SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (17 & 22 DEC) and TALES FROM THE CRYPT, including a psycho santa (23 & 30 DEC).
CANADA WATER CULTURE SPACE
HOMOEROTIC SHORT FILM & PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE ANDREW SKINNER (15 DEC 19:30)
We love a content warning… This study of gay sexuality “contains full frontal nudity”. You have been warned…
THE CASTLE CINEMA
#SOUNDTRACKS World Premiere (06 DEC 21:00)
Tristan C. Anderson launches his new #SOUNDTRACKS project, the world’s first music video documentary album.
DE VOORTREKKERS + LIVE PIANO SCORE (09 DEC 14:00)
A silent 1916 film – the oldest surviving South African feature – with live piano accompaniment by Nigerian composer Juwon Ogungbe.
TRIBUTE TO JEANNE MOREAU continues until 17 DEC. There’s a special screening of LES VALSEUSES + LIVE MUSIC (03 DEC 16:00) which gives you a young Depardieu and a jazz concert with John Etheridge in the bar afterwards. There are several added value events:
BECOMING CARRY GRANT + Q&A with director Mark Kidel (10 DEC 16:15)
Becoming Cary Grant is a treasure-trove of archives, film extracts and home movies that reflect the ups and downs of his journey Bristol-born Archie Leach to Hollywood icon.
SEE YOU UP THERE + Q&A director & actor Albert Dupontel (15 DEC 20:15)
In November 1918, before the Armistice, Edouard Pericourt, a gifted artist, saves the life of Albert Maillard, a humble bookkeeper.
The otherwise online Artekino Festival (01 to 17 DEC) finds physical form with a trio of screenings: CHEVALIER (16 DEC 16:00); SOLEIL BATTANT + Q&A (16 DEC 18:20) with directors Clara & Laura Laperrousaz (tbc); and FROST (17 DEC 16:10).
THE CINEMA MUSEUM
A busy month, but we’d focus on one main attraction: MARK GATISS FILM NIGHT (15 DEC 19:30) is a Save The Cinema Museum Benefit event. Gatiss will be interviewed by Matthew Sweet and show clips from movies that have moved, entertained and inspired him. Elsewhere, there’s a number of other (spirited) screenings:
LEBANON FACTORY + Q&A + MUSIC (01 DEC 18:30)
Four Lebanese film makers + four international producers = four films offering a unique perspective on Lebanon. Presented by South Social Film Festival.
KETTLING OF THE VOICES + Q&A with Chester Yang (05 DEC 18:45)
A documentary exploring the events and aftermath of the student protest against the rise in tuition fees in winter 2010. Presented by BECTU.
CONCRETE SOLDIERS UK + DEBATE (08 Dec 19:00)
World premiere of a new doc by Nikita Woolfe about the social cleansing of housing estates and those resisting the destruction of their homes. Presented by Aylesbury Film Night.
In the general programme, we like the look of: THE LIVE GHOST TENT – QUARTERLY MEETING OF THE LAUREL AND HARDY SOCIETY (02 DEC 15:00); PAVEMENT BUTTERFLY (06 DEC 19:30); THE WORKING MAN (10 DEC 14:30); NIGHTMARE ALLEY (12 DEC 19:30); THE LADY VANISHES (13 DEC 19:30); and, MISS BLUEBEARD (20 DEC 19:30).
It’s the end of seasons at Close-Up with music doc TRANSES (01 DEC 19:30) wrapping up IL CINEMA RITROVATO: THE SHOCK OF THE OLD whilst HANS – A YOUNG MAN IN GERMANY (09 DEC 16:00) brings SOHRAB SHAHID SALESS: EXILES to an end.
New short season NEUE WELT: RADICAL VISIONS IN NEW GERMAN CINEMA (07 to 11 DEC) continues Close-Up’s collabs with the Goethe Institute (with extra curation from the National Film & Television School). Rarely screened films include titles from: Alexander Kluge, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Peter Nestler, Werner Schroeter, Wim Wenders, and Peter Handke.
There are three evenings of experimental animation as part of London International Animation Festival curated by Edge of Frame. Choose from: YOU< ME< THEM (02 DEC 19:30) and then an AFTER NATURE double bill (03 DEC 18:00 & 20:00).
Anthony Paraskeva launches his book Samuel Beckett & Cinema with a screening of FILM + COMÉDIE (10 DEC 17:00).
ASUNDER + Q&A with director Esther Johnson and writer Bob Stanley (07 DEC 18:45)
The story of what happened to a quintessential British town during the First World War, with virtually all of its men abroad fighting and its women and children left behind.
NATURE OF THE BEAST + Q&A with producer, director & Dennis Skinner MP (13 DEC 18:30, Curzon Soho)
A portrait of the committed socialist, trade unionist and Labour politician Dennis Skinner.
Then there’s a retrospective of Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke (10 to 23 DEC), with all films screened in 35mm. We’d recommend heading back in time for TIME OF THE WOLF (16 DEC 15:00) and BENNY’S VIDEO (21 DEC 18:30).
THE DAVID LEAN CINEMA
OPEN BETHLEHEM + Q&A with Sara Apps, Open Bethlehem Campaign (06 DEC 19:30)
Film director Leila Sansour returns to Bethlehem to make a film about her home town, soon to be encircled by a wall.
TANNA (28 DEC 14:30)
Spoken in native Nauvhal and filmed entirely on location, this is a Romeo and Juliet style story of young lovers risking everything to be together in the South Pacific island.
Director Taster seasons continue with Theo Angelopoulos (ULYSSES’ GAZE 03 DEC 14:00), Agnes Vàrda (LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE, 05 DEC 20:00 & LES PLAGES D’AGNÈS, 12 DEC 20:00) and Andrzej Zulawski (THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT, 08 DEC 20:00 & COSMOS, 15 DEC 20:00). However, our dirty little hearts are (most) excited by:
BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL (09 DEC 18:15)
“A wacky, lo-fi, retro, gore-fest that draws affectionately from THE EVIL DEAD and HAUSU, this Super-8 gem of Japanese cinema invites fans of bizarro lo-fi 80s horror on a far out journey… into hell!”
In a more mature vein, DC is home to London Migration Film Festival (also at Genesis, below).
DOCHOUSE at Curzon Bloomsbury
DOLORES (from 01 DEC) is a DocHouse first – films that wouldn’t normally get a regular run in London – about “one of the most important, yet least known, activists in recent history”. KARL MARX CITY + Q&A with co-directors Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker (05 DEC 18:20) is a “powerfully personal voyage through former East Germany” investigating Epperlein’s father’s suicide.
We also like the look of the UK premiere of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s experimental doc CANIBA (16 DEC 18:30) about the infamous cannibal Issei Sagawa who, in 1981, murdered and partially ate a fellow student whilst studying at the Sorbonne. Part of the Japanese Experimental Film Festival (21 – 23 SEP 2018).
BEST OF DOCHOUSE 2017 (27 DEC to 04 JAN 2018 – check for dates/times) offers just that: a series of stunning docs from the year (almost) gone. Treat yourself to titles including: THE EAGLE HUNTRESS, DANCER, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD, CITY OF GHOSTS and THE FARTHEST (read our writeup HERE).
EVERYMAN SCREEN ON THE GREEN
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (30 DEC 23:30)
Where it belongs, late at night.
CinemaItaliaUk gives us FORTUNATA (10 DEC 15:30) – about a woman who, after a bitter divorce, struggles to guarantee her daughter a decent life – QUEERBEE projects a programme of short film about FAITH (14 DEC 18:00), and the Cult Classic Collective screens AKIRA (19 DEC 18:15). We also like the look of:
#SUGARWATER + Q&A (03 DEC 13:30)
A doc about the first ever performance by pioneering Deaf and disabled theatre company Graeae at the National Theatre. Part of the ticket proceeds go to Graeae.
THE COMMODORE STORY (09 DEC 13:00).
Our inner geeks are fully aroused by this Kickstarted tale of 8-bit technology.
Genesis is home to London Migration Film Festival (also at Deptford Cinema, above)
HARINGEY INDEPENDENT CINEMA
HAIL, CAESAR! (14 DEC 19:00)
“Would that it were so simple”.
HITHER GREEN CINEMA (at the Railway Men’s Club)
CAMERAPERSON + Q&A/Discussion (07 DEC 19:00)
Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson exposes her many years behind the camera through a memoir made up of decades of footage shot all over the world (wikipedia).
THE HORSE HOSPITAL
The month begins with a return from EXPLODING CINEMA (02 DEC 19:00) for their latest night of independent, underground, and experimental short film. That’s followed by two excellent ongoing sagas… Billy Chainsaw notches up another NOVA NIGHT with #7, THOMAS EIKREM’S “LE ACCELERATOR” & SELECTED “ORGASMO” SHORTS (12 DEC 19:00). The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies wraps up the current semester with YULETIDE TERROR: CHRISTMAS HORROR ON FILM & TELEVISION (14 DEC 19:00) from instructors Stephen Thrower and Derek Johnston.
The equine basement provides a great vantage point for the London International Animation Festival with 6 screenings between 06 & 09 DEC.
INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ARTS
Short season TRINH T MINH-HA (02 to 09 DEC) follows the sold out UK premiere of FORGETTING VIETNAM at Tate Modern (below). Hugely influential in the fields of feminism and postcolonial studies, Vietnamese-born writer, theorist, composer and filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha will be present to speak about her work after several of the screenings.
Then there’s LIGHT SHOW #1 (08 to 10 DEC), a weekend collab with Mubi and Little White Lies. Much-loved screenings include Jacques Tati’s PLAYTIME (08 DEC 20:30) and Orson Welles’ F FOR FAKE (09 DEC 20:30).
Other events include two screenings of work by Satyajit Ray (RABINDRANATH TAGORE + SIKKIM, 02 DEC 13:40 and KANCHENJUNGHA, 06 DEC 20:45) and a trio of (excellent) Q&As: the London premiere of OPPOSITION + Q&A (10 DEC 12:45), an investigative documentary in Papua New Guinea; SO LONG ENTHUSIASM + Q&A (15 DEC 18:45); and, the UK premiere of IMPOSSIBLE PICTURE + Q&A (19 DEC 18:30).
THE INSTITUTE OF LIGHT
Help preserve film culture around the world with Cigarette Burns’ fundraiser for Permanencia Voluntaria Archivo Cinematográfico, a small independent archive in Mexico imperilled by a recent earthquake. The film is René Cardona’s “insane” Christmas fairy tale SANTA CLAUS (11 DEC 19:00). See it and believe…
Two special treats… MISOGYNIST FILM CLUB (10 DEC 17:00) is “where we embrace the films we both love and love to hate” from a feminist perspective (part of UK Jewish Comedy Festival) whilst FESTIVE SONGS IN THE MOVIES (13 DEC 14:00) should get you jingling all the way.
MENASHE screens from 08 to 21 DEC.
PS/Y and LUX host STAR MESSENGER (17 DEC 15:00), a new moving image work by Danish artist Marie Kølbæk Iversen, accompanied by Diana Policarpo on percussion and Gaia Fugazza’s Other Ways – a series of 90 porcelain sculptures to be displayed in the mouths of visitors.
Deeper Into Movies gives us STALKER (02 DEC 13:00):
Andrei Tarkovsky’s final Soviet feature is a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic postapocalyptic landscape, and a rarefied cinematic experience like no other.
PANDORA’S BOX + LIVE PIANO + INTRO (03 DEC 14:00)
Author Pamela Hutchinson introduces this 1929 tale of a free-loving, status-climbing dancer who takes up with a succession of lovers leading to her own doom.
THE ENCHANTED SCREEN season continues across the chain. We’ve got: TV wonder THE BOX OF DELIGHTS (02 DEC 15:00); THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (03 DEC 13:00); two versions of Grimm BLANCANIEVES (04 DEC 18:15) and SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARVES (10 DEC 13:00); EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (11 & 12 DEC); TALE OF TALES (12 DEC 18:30); and, THE SINGING RINGING TREE (17 DEC 13:00). Other Picturehouses available.
We also like the look of:
HAPPY END + MICHAEL HANEKE – IMAGE EVERLASTING (01 to 06 DEC, various times)
Like many, Picturehouse is screening Michael Haneke’s latest, but here it comes with an exclusive short film essay by Lewis Bond of YouTube Channel Criswell.
“Hard-hitting, relevant and inspiring films relating to war and conflict” presented by Picturehouse Cinemas and Imperial War Museums.
PRINCE CHARLES CINEMA
The Central London rep is spending December majoring in the DISASTER ARTIST – which enjoys a long run – and an extensive Christmas programme. You’ll know what’s on and you’ll want to see it. For a movie a little way off the usual sleigh trail, try:
CAROL in 35mm (11 DEC 13:20)
Two women develop a fast bond that becomes a love with complicated consequences.
There are a couple of LORD OF THE RINGS – EXTENDED EDITION (09 DEC) all-nighters – which should give you ample shelter from the storm – whilst original format screenings include one of our favourite superhero movies, BATMAN RETURNS in 35mm (29 DEC 21:00) and DIE HARD in 70mm (various dates/times).
REGENT STREET CINEMA
Several excellent indie programmers screen this month: The Badlands Collective gives us DEAD AGAIN (10 DEC 19:00); CinemaItaliaUK projects TUTTO QUELLO CHE VUOI aka Everything You Want (13 DEC 19:30); and, Soul Jazz Records screens classic reggae film ROCKERS (19 DEC 19:30) followed by a free pre-Xmas reggae and funk DJ-set in the bar.
Renowned for double bills, there are a couple of gorgeous ones this festive season (discounts apply): IN A LONELY PLACE + FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL (16 & 17 DEC various times) gives you a double dose of Gloria Grahame whilst RED SHOES + THE TALES OF HOFFMAN (23 DEC 13:30 & 16:15) allows you to indulge your inner Powell & Pressburger.
Amongst other treasures, we like the look of BINGO: THE KING OF THE MORNINGS (15 DEC to 21 DEC), Brazil’s 2018 Oscar and BAFTA submission about a soft porn and soap opera actor who gets his chance at the spotlight when he is cast as BINGO, a TV show host clown.
No-budget, self-made British thriller DISTRICT NURSE (09 DEC 23:30) gets a late night screening:
“A kaleidoscope of nightmares, a cacophony of schizoid fantasies with an underlying rumble of paranoia” (Elephant Magazine).
SHORTS ON TAP
The regular short film night returns with VISIONS OF DYSTOPIA – A SELECTION OF SCI-FI SHORTS (13 DEC 19:00). Join the gang for festive drinks and their last screening of 2017.
STANLEY’S FILM CLUB
STOW FILM LOUNGE
Amongst other delights, we like the look of REBECCA (10 DEC 14:15), Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film (and his only Academy Award Best Picture winner).
Tate kicks off the month with a sold out screening of FORGETTING VIETNAM (01 DEC) but you can still catch Trinh T. Minh-ha’s work in short season at the ICA (above). Also screening:
ALSO KNOWN AS JIHADI + Q&A with artist Eric Baudelaire (06 DEC 18:30)
Produced in the wake of the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, Baudelaire’s new film traces a young man’s path to radicalisation through landscapes and court transcripts.
YOUR LIFE DURING WW3 (09 DEC 12:00 until 20:00)
Marcel Darienzo is a durational 4 hours performance piece, comprising of live action, dance, sound, video and text-based works as an installation in the gallery.
The Loughborough Junction members’ cinema projects one of our favourites of 2017:
THE UNTAMED (03 to 06 DEC, various times)
Amat Escalante’s tentacular follow up to his critically lauded features HELI and LOS BASTARDOS.
Last chance to catch the current batch of Artists’ Film International presentations: GABRIELA GOLDER + WOJCIECH BAKOWSKI (until 03 DEC – check venue for times). The new selection, LUIS LAZARO MATOS + ZHENG MAHLER + NGUYEN PHUONG LINH, opens 05 DEC and loops until 28 JAN 18 (ditto re times).
COMING SOON: FILM FESTIVALS (by date opening/closing)
A quick summary of film festivals opening across the city this month.
- Utopia: The Portuguese Film Festival (ends 01 DEC)
- Irish Film Festival (until 03 DEC)
- London Migration Film Festival (until 05 DEC)
- French Film Festival (London dates until 12 DEC)
- London International Animation Festival (01 to 10 DEC)
- Arte Kino Festival (01 to 17 DEC)
- London Experimental Film Festival (03 DEC)
- Global Health Film Festival (08 to 09 DEC)
WHAT HAVE WE MISSED?
No list would be complete without the ones we’ve missed… Let us know what should be included in the comments or contact us here.
Join the hunt for adventurous moving pictures.
*THE SMALL PRINT: As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any mistakes. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version. We don’t filter by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should therefore be 18+. We only include events you can book for at the time of posting. Please click quickly!
Featured image: SANTA CLAUS (1959).