The excellent Free Film Festivals team are back in south east London this month with not one but two fantastic celebrations of non-cinema-based celluloid.
Starting tomorrow, the first Herne Hill Free Film Festival kicks off with a Keaton and Chaplin silent movie double bill projected onto the front of Herne Hill station. There’ll be a live piano soundtrack provided by the internationally renowned accompanist Neil Brand. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own chairs, rugs or cushions and wrap up warn to watch Easy Street (with Chaplin) and Sherlock Jr (Keaton) al fresco. The films start at 7.30.
Further films in the festival include Muriel’s Wedding at the Brockwell Lido (4 May); documentary The Night of the Taranta at the Half Moon Pub (11 May); Eat Drink Man Woman in Station Square (1 June) and Sprited Away in Brockwell Park’s Performance Space (18 May), preceded by the first full-length outdoor screening of a film in the history of Brockwell Park. Don’t forget your torches for this latter date: you’ll need them to find your way home through the unlit park at the end of the night.
Then next week, the second New Cross & Deptford free film festival (NXDFFF) begins, featuring 24 events in 12 different venues over 10 days across the borough of Lewisham (Lewisham being one of only two London boroughs without a cinema). Screenings take place in a real variety of venues, including a pizzeria, the Deptford Council Chambers, in a New Cross tattoo parlour, a housing co-op, two parks and a 40ft lorry-turned-mobile cinema.
We particularly like the sound of seeing ET and Skyfall in local parks (27 April and 4 May); The Cabinet of Dr Caligari at the Hill Station community space (3 May); seminal 50s sci-fi b-movie Them! at the King of Hearts Tattoo Parlour (29 April); and Cinema Paradiso at the tiny 37-seater London Theatre (4 May). Look out too, for the Light Houses project on 2 May, when residents of Telegraph Hill will transform their front windows into pop-up cinema screens, showing animation, moving images and self-made short films.
The highlight of the NXDFFF is perhaps a screening of the wonderful Arthur Sleep - A Broken Romance In Three Parts, a modern homage to black and white silent cinema and film noir, with debts to Carl Dreyer's Vampyr (1932), Jean Cocteau's Orphée (1949), David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977) and Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990). Arthur Sleep will be shows with a live performance of the original musical score in the atmospheric Victorian surroundings of Deptford Town Hall on 28 April at 4pm.
South East London now hosts four of these fab free film festivals – in Camberwell in March, Peckham and Nunhead in September, and the two above in April / May. All the festivals are organised and run by volunteers and all events are free. Yes, free.
The first Herne Hill Free Film Festival runs for six weeks from 19 April. Follow Herne Hill Free Film Festival on Facebook. The New Cross And Deptford Free Film Festival runs from 26 April to 5 May. You can find NXDFFF on Twitter or on Facebook. Visit freefilmfestivals.org to find out more.