Bloomsbury's famed art house cinema, the Renoir, has been given a fresh new lick of paint, ready to at last re-open its doors after 10 months of refurbishment. The Curzon Cinema Group promises the wait has been worth it, showboating an impressive upgrade from two screens to six, along with an added Bertha DocHouse screen that will exclusively show documentaries.
The movie theatre is also getting a new name, fittingly the Curzon Bloomsbury. Though the ownership remains the same, some of the Renoir's loyal followers fear their local independent cinema will be just another cog in Curzon's ever-expanding franchise, and worse, soon to be brandished with more mainstream 'blockbusters'.
Curzon insists otherwise. So much so, the movie house is launching its programming slate with The Auteur Film Festival. Running from 27 March-2 April, the week long event will present a host of films from notable directors — the ones you should know, but admittedly may not.
Reminiscent of a film theory class, the line-up is inspiring, offering both classic and modern fare that give insight into how film is as we know it today.
The festival starts off with Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, the Solaris director's fifth film that helped transform the science fiction genre to new visionary heights. Jean Renoir's La Regle Du Jeu (The Rules of The Game) is also headlining, known to some as one of the best character dramas ever made, though ironically fraught with failure when initially made in 1939.
Rounding up, some of the most talked about films in cinematic history — Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thieves, François Truffaut's The 400 Blows, Orson Welles's Touch of Evil and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo — are also in the programme. Splintered across every 'best of' film list, they make for worthwhile viewing repeats.
Other like-minded gems included are Powell and Pressburger's post World War II fairytale A Matter of Life and Death (note its innovative use of Technicolour); British filmmaker Terence Davies's moving ode to post-war Britain Distant Voices, Still Lives; Dario Argento's operatic horror Suspiria, that includes a haunting soundtrack from Italian prog rock band Goblin and Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven that experimented with editing and voice-over techniques, ultimately awarding Malick with an Oscar for Best Director.
Those wanting a more recent selection, check out favourites like Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, Michael Haneke's masterfully mind-boggling Hidden, Sally Potter's Orlando (that helped bring Tilda Swinton to greater fame) and David Lynch's uncompromising Mulholland Drive.
Whether you're a film buff or not, this is a worthy line-up of cinema's best filmmakers (or as Truffaut insisted during the French New Wave movement - 'auteurs'). Plus, these are films you can't often see on the big screen, particularly Tarkovky's Stalker.
An impressive line-up of guests are also expected — keep your eye on Curzon's Twitter feed for further announcements.
The Auteur Film Festival runs 27 March-2 April at Curzon Bloomsbury, The Brunswick, WC1. Tickets are £7.50 or £6.50 for Curzon members and will include introductions to selected screenings.