THE BALLY #97: What to see from London this week (05 FEB 2021+)

Welcome to THE BALLY where we update you on the latest news from across London’s alternative cinema scene.

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I’m not one for false optimism, but the progress with vaccination shots certainly seems to be stirring up talk about when and how the country might reopen after lockdown 3.0.

The main news we’re interested in here is when cinemas might reopen again – or, rather, when we might settle down in the darkness with a bunch of strangers to share a movie or two in any shape or size of venue.

There’s lots of speculation all over the weekend’s front pages about pubs, summer holidays and restaurants (or “restrants” as Gordon Ramsay says it… a man too busy even for a few extra vowels). All that we know for sure is that the Government is likely to announce some kind of roadmap for reopening in the week beginning 22 FEB which may or may not include the good news we’re looking for.

Official mutterings seem focused on schools and maybe universities reopening from early March, which is both a while away and looks likely to be quite far ahead of other public spaces. Without chucking around any further casual speculation, it looks like we need to stay streaming for a while longer – supporting our indie cinemas if we can – and hope the vaccine production continues at its current pace.

What this has got me doing is daydreaming about getting back into the cinema later this year. Now, it might be counterintuitive given the virus that has caused so much devastation is spread by social contact, but I want to be in the biggest, busiest room possible when the industry reopens. And I want it to be loud. Like, really loud.

I’m happy to let someone else choose the film, because that’s been the joy of my recent life tracking London’s alternative cinema scene, but something like BFI Southbank’s NFT 1 with a kaiju movie from their rearranged Japan 2020 season would be wonderful. For all the claustrophobia of lockdown when you live and work on your own (as I do), it’s the scale of cinema that I’m missing right now. Something way bigger than my little life.

Not that all of my indie cinema experiences have been big and loud. Some have been small and intimate, from the time when about 15 of us huddled together at Lux Moving Image to have small porcelain sculptures of octopus beaks put into our mouths before collectively witnessing hallucinatory visuals that riffed on memories of a difficult childbirth (true story…), to the times when only a few people have turned up to much bigger events. Of course, one of the perils of DIY exhibition is sometimes no one turns up (which happened on one of my own lunchtime exhibits). This is when my determination to blog gets turned up way past 11 and I’m more than happy to be settled into my role as one of the few chroniclers of the capital’s alternative cinema scene.

I really am looking forward to experiencing those handcrafted moments from passionate experts again, where my film horizons and love of London get expanded and exploded in equal measure. But, for now, I’d like to give myself permission to start back with a loud room full of absolute strangers having an amazing time. That, for me, is what cinema both large and small is always about. The peculiar magic that happens between the projector bulb and the screen in the minds and hearts of those who’ve gathered to witness whatever spectacle is about to be set before us.

Until we get some concrete news, stay tuned for regular updates about London’s streaming events, and stay safe.

I’ll see you in darkness again soon.


Barker-In-Chief // RADIANT CIRCUS.

Main featured image: DEAR, DREAMER d. Kristian Melom, 2019/10 mins – screening as part of DocHouse Shorts #2: American Liberty (12 to 14 FEB 2021).

If you’re an exhibitor in Greater London, RADIANT CIRCUS offers some FREE services to help promote your screen event (when everything gets going again…).

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A film still from Wong Kar Wai’s CHUNGKING EXPRESS.

The World of Wong Kar Wai from ICA Cinema 3 (01 – 23 FEB 2021)

A unique retrospective featuring seven new 4K restorations streams from ICA’s virtual Cinema 3 on The Mall. READ MORE

Film still from EASTERN (2019) showing a young woman with a rifle.

No Ticket Required virtual film club from Watermans (08 FEB 20:00 – FREE!)

The next film to be discussed in the West London venue’s virtual film club is EASTERN (2020) with guest Michael Brooke. READ MORE

THE PAINTER & THE THIEF (2020) + Zoom Q&A (11 FEB 19:00 + 21:00)

World cinema culture specialists South Social Film Festival launch a new Norway Cineclub with THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF (2020) + Zoom Q&A with artist Barbora Kysilkova. READ MORE

RADIANT CIRCUS is powered by monthly subscribers. 40% of fees now directly supports indie cinema events across London.

The indie screen culture we love has taken a battering. Coronavirus has closed venues, silenced exhibitors & isolated audiences.

To help reanimate movies beyond the mainstream, we’ve relaunched our subscription service as a crowdfunder called REVIVE THE DARK. With the backing of enough subscribers we will be able to:

  • Sponsor DIY, indie & alternative cinema
  • Celebrate outstanding acts of exhibition
  • Expand our scene content & coverage


*THE SMALL PRINT: Opinions author’s own. // As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version only. // Event dates/times/formats are subject to change by the venue/organiser. Events may already be sold out at the time of posting, so please click quickly. // We try to list as many original format screenings as we can (8 to 70MM), but sometimes formats change due to age of the print, availability, logistics etc, so please check ahead with your venue if the format is your thing. // All images are used in the spirit of fair use for reporting & review – no ownership is implied or intended / unless otherwise credited to RADIANT CIRCUS as the original rights holder. We will remove any images immediately upon request – just get in touch. // We don’t filter our listings by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should therefore be 18+. // Finally, we always try to follow The Carny Code by “not screwing up anyone else’s game”, but everyone can make mistakes… If something does go wrong, we will always do our best to put it right. //.