bath events


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We are excited to be able to let you know who our speakers are for our screening of A SYRIAN LOVE STORY, a Bath Welcomes Refugees fundraiser, on Monday 23rd January: Alaa Al Khourdajie and Sally Harris will kindly be joining us.

Sally will present an overview of Bath Welcomes Refugees (BWR) in Bath and beyond, their goals, and how to get involved for those interested.
Alaa will share the experience of two friends, his peers, and their suffering under the current Syrian regime. He will also highlight the challenge we’re facing with ever-expanding refugee crises (political, conflict, environmental) and how we plan for these logistically, as well as politically & through group mentality.

Sally Harris, an active Human-Rights campaigner, is Deputy-Chair of BWR. Alaa Al Khourdajie is a Syrian citizen currently studying for a PHD at Bath University, and a member of the BWR management committee.

Get your tickets here:




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Monday 23rd January, 8pm at the Boston Tea Party, Bath
Dir. Sean McAllister | 78min | 2015 | 12A

This next Pop Up Docs screening is a fundraiser for Bath Welcomes Refugees, get your tickets from our home page: £6 adult | £5 student | £4 unwaged/single parent | FREE refugees/carers

We hope to see many people at this screening, to raise funds and awareness too. Please do come, bring a friend, and tell your neighbours too…

£30 pays for a child’s school uniform, £100 for a pushchair: these are simple things some take for granted, which for others are essential to accessing an education or getting out of the house with the kids. When you think of what is going on across the whole country of Syria (most of the refugees in Bath are from Syria, hence the film choice) as well as the much-covered devastation of Aleppo, a school uniform or a buggy don’t seem like much to ask for, and your donations, any donation, can make a huge difference here.

Bath Welcomes Refugees is a friendly group for anyone in the area who would like to be involved with welcoming refugee families. We have invited a guest speaker to share a glimpse of life as a refugee, the experience of displacement from home, being unable to return to the place where you belong.

For the love of the game…

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The upcoming screening of NEXT GOAL WINS on Saturday 27th June is an exciting collaboration between Pop Up Docs and The Big Bath City Bid. Oliver Holtaway explains a little more about what this important local project is trying to achieve…


The Big Bath City Bid is an initiative that aims to take Bath City FC into community ownership. This means giving the entire community a say in how the club is run, and putting community benefit at the core of the club’s constitution. If we are successful, Bath City FC will become a members-owned club run on a “one member, one vote” model – similar to AFC Wimbledon or FC Barcelona.

We are especially pleased to be partnering with Pop Up Docs on this event. Over the last ten years Bath has seen a boom in the arts and creative industries, attracting graphic designers, film production companies, brand and marketing experts as well as coders and programmers. A community-owned Bath City FC would throw the doors open to Bath’s creatives and invite them to breathe new life into the club. We want Bath City to become a hub of exciting activity where everyone’s talents can find rewarding and meaningful expression.

We need to raise at least £750,000 by 4 September. Sounds like a lot? Well it’s been done before, in the very pub where we are holding this screening! To do this we are selling community shares for a minimum purchase of £250. To find out more about how you can get behind the bid, please visit

The film’s co-director Mike Brett is an AFC Wimbledon fan and sent us this message of support:

“Given the current state of governance in football, there’s never been a more important time for fans to work together, take control of the clubs they love and keep alive the communal values that make this the people’s game.

The Bath City Bid epitomises all that is good about grassroots football support, and shows how integral local clubs can be to their local communities.

Achieving fan ownership isn’t easy, and there will always be challenges along the way, but – as they say in Pago Pago – “fa’a malosi!” (“stay strong!”) and you can achieve anything.”


Pop Up Docs picks another Oscar-winner!

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We’ve done it again – we’ve managed to pick the Oscar-winner for our next screening. Well done to director Laura Poitras, editor Mathilde Bonnefoy and producer Dirk Wilutzky.

Collecting the award, Poitras, flanked by journalist and collaborator Glenn Greenwald, said: “The disclosures of Edward Snowden don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the decisions that rule us are taken in secret we lose the power to control and govern ourselves.” Poitras thanked Edward Snowden for his “sacrifices”, and added: “I share this award with Glenn Greenwald and the many other journalists who are taking risks to expose the truth.”


The team were joined onstage by Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills. In response to the news, Snowden himself wrote:

“When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honour and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

Citizenfour was the strong favourite in the documentary category, having taken a string of awards over the last few months, including best documentary at the BAFTAS, the DGA, and the National Society of Film Critics (the Golden Globes has no non-fiction award.)

Pop Up Docs will be screening the film in a very apt venue: The Francis Hotel (Bath’s answer to the Mira Hotel perhaps?!) on Fri 20th March.

Book tickets before they sell out!

Before Bollywood! The Long, Rich History of Documentary in India

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The award-winning film POWERLESS has really brought documentary form into the mainstream of Indian cinema and it was developed with that aim in mind. But there is a richer documentary tradition in India than you might expect…

Writing for the International Documentary Association, Bhuvan Lall provides some interesting context…

On the historic midnight of August 14 and 15, 1947, India became independent from British rule. First Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech, “A Tryst with Destiny,” was recorded by independent filmmaker Ambles J. Patel with two cameras and sound equipment. There were no official film units of the Government of India or other Indian filmmakers to film this historic moment and the subsequent nationwide celebrations.

That was 57 years ago, but today India boasts a vibrant independent documentary filmmaking community. Indian documentary filmmakers have today carved a niche for themselves in the nonfiction genre world with their creativity and hard-hitting works on subjects ranging from Indian arts and social concerns to natural history. Traditional Indian images of the Taj Mahal, droughts and poverty-stricken villagers have given way to films covering a spectrum of social, societal, environmental and human issues facing India. Films on issues such as human rights, censorship, gender roles, communal politics, individual liberty and sexual identity form the new Indian documentary filmmaking community.

POWERLESS is a documentary film about the power supply in an Indian city

But the Indian documentary filmmaking tradition dates back well before independence. In 1888 a short film of wrestlers Pundalik Dada and Krishna Navi at Bombay’s Hanging Gardens was filmed by Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar. This was the first recorded documentary film in India. In the 1930s, filmmakers D.G. Tendulkar, who had studied motion pictures in Moscow and Germany, and K.S. Hirelekar, who had studied culture films in Germany, brought the latest concepts of documentary film and laid the foundation of the documentary movement in India.

In April 1948 the Indian Government formed the Films Division and described it as “the official organ of the Government of India for the production and distribution of information films and newsreels.” Screenings of Films Division documentaries were made mandatory before feature films at all cinemas in India. From June 1949, the Films Division started regular distribution of newsreels and documentaries through its own distribution set-up. Films were dubbed in five languages—English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Telegu—and 97 films were produced in 1949-50. The Films Division soon became one of the most important sources of public information, and it tried to reach out to people in the remotest corners of India. Many exciting films emerged from the Films Division—S.N.S. Sastry’s I Am 20, Fali Bilimoria’s The House That Ananda Built, Sukhdev’s India 1967 and M.F. Husain’s Through the Eyes of a Painter. The Films Division today is Asia’s biggest documentary and short film producer, having to its credit innumerable films that have won laurels at home and abroad during the last 56 years.

In the 1950s Burmah-Shell, a private company, invested in making training films and sales promotion films of outstanding merit. Canadian filmmaker James Beveridge, who had worked at National Film Board of Canada and was a protégé of John Grierson, produced and directed several Burmah-Shell Films in India.

In 1978, An Encounter with Faces, Vinod Chopra’s documentary about Bombay street children, went all the way to Hollywood, where it was nominated for an Oscar. The film also earned nine out of 12 awards at the Oberhausen Film Festival, and won the top prizes at festivals in Milan, Leipzig and Finland. At the International Film Festival of India, it won the Golden Peacock. The technique of the film was singled out for special mention: direct, unwavering conversations with children, neither patronizing nor pitying.

The advent of digital video technology has further revolutionized the Indian documentary technique. Traditionally Indian documentary overwhelmingly favored the didactic social documentary, but now filmmakers have moved towards the internationally accepted direct cinema style, adopting its realist aesthetic and reliance on interviews, while continuing to retain Griersonian voiceover narration.

Ritu, the first female chief of KESCO, in the film POWERLESS
Ritu, the first female chief of KESCO, in the film POWERLESS

Until the advent of the satellite television boom in India in the early 1990s, state broadcaster Doordarshan’s two national terrestrial channels were the only TV networks in India where documentary films could be screened. The launch of Discovery Channel in India in August 1995 and the subsequent entry of National Geographic Channel in 1998 created further avenues for Indian filmmakers to screen their work. Discovery Channel has also launched Animal Planet in India and will add a Lifestyle channel in October 2004. India’s largest TV network, Zee TV, has announced plans to launch a documentary channel called Khoj in the next few months.

In addition to the broadcasters, the nonprofit Public Service Broadcasting Trust was formed to support the production of independent documentary films. The trust receives its funding from the Ford Foundation and Doordarshan. According to Rajiv Mehrotra, an internationally renowned filmmaker and the founder of PSBT, “We do not seek sensationalism or explicit confrontation—though that might bring in TV ratings—but to provide quiet, considered insights and, dare I add, wisdom to focus on contemporary predicaments and valuable elements of our heritage. We encourage filmmakers to work with the newer, less expensive digital technologies so that they could explore more innovative treatments and approaches to the documentary, afford more time on location and create truly in-depth, incisive films.” PSBT has already produced over 50 films and has started work on a documentary miniseries: The Story of Indian Broadcasting, which will both evaluate and document the achievements of Public Service Broadcasting in India.

Documentary filmmaking training was pioneered by Anwar Jamal Kidwai, former secretary of the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, who founded the Mass Communication Research Center (MCRC) in 1983. MCRC was started with funding from the University Grants Commission and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and with university cooperation between Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi and York University in Canada. Filmmaker Beveridge, along with his wife Margaret, also played a critical role in the founding of this center.

Since 1983, about 500 students have graduated with master’s degrees in mass communication, comprising an important media work force in the country today. The alumni have received national awards like the Chameli Devi Jain Award and international awards like the prestigious Golden Gate Award in San Francisco, as well as other film and television awards. Its alumni have also been awarded prestigious scholarships and grants like the Fulbright and Inlaks scholarships, the Cardiff and Commonwealth fellowships and the India Foundation for the Arts grants for media research.

The Indian documentary community has presented cinematic gems and has put Indian images on television screens across the planet. Mike Pandey is the only Asian filmmaker ever to have won the Green Oscar twice at the Wildscreen Festival in the UK, for his documentaries Rogue Elephants of India and Shore Whale Sharks in India. The latter film was shot under extreme conditions and took almost three years to complete. “Shore Whale Sharks in India aimed towards creating policies to support a ban on the killing and trade of whale sharks in India as well as finding sustainable alternatives for the fishermen,” says Pandey. The Earth Matters Foundation set up by Pandey to create the preservation of wildlife in their natural habitat began an awareness campaign to save the whale shark. The campaign successfully got the hunting of this species banned worldwide.

Besides Pandey, several Indian filmmakers, including Anand Patwardhan, Sanjay Kak, Amar Kanwar and Rakesh Sharma, have already carved a niche for themselves on the international documentary stage. Award-winning Patwardhan’s latest documentary, War and Peace (2002), documents activist movements in South Asia since the 1998 nuclear tests in India and Pakistan. Patwardhan has been making documentary films for the past 25 years about human rights issues in India, like street dwellers in Bombay, the rise of religious fundamentalism and the negative impact of globalization.

Kak has carved out a special niche in the echelon of experimental cinema,  and his films such as Land, My Land, England (1993), A House and a Home (1993), Geeli Mitti (1985), A Matter of Choice, Harvest of Rain and One Weapon have received awards as well as critical appreciation at film festivals in Paris, Fribourg, Hawaii and Dhaka. His documentary In the Forest Hangs a Bridge won the 1999 Margaret Mead Film Festival Documentary Film Award in the US.

Kanwar, a recipient of a 1998 MacArthur Fellowship, was awarded the Golden Conch-Best Film Award at the 1998 Mumbai International Documentary Film Festival for his film A Season Outside. His next film, A Night of Prophecy (2002), was filmed in several diverse regions of India and features music and poetry of tragedy and protest performed by regional artists.

Sharma’s Final Solution (2003) graphically documents the changing face of right wing politics in India through a study of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. The film was banned by the Indian censors, even though the film has been acclaimed at international film festivals.

Other Indian films that have fared well on the international film festival circuit include Rahul Roy’s When Our Friends Meet, a film on male sexuality; Barf Snow, a film by Saba Dewan, on trekking with slum girls; and Into the Abyss, Vandana Kohli’s film on depression, for which he won the RAPA 2003 award in India for Best Director.

The Mumbai International Film Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films was launched in 1990 as a biennial competitive event and is organized by the Films Division, in close cooperation with the State Government of Maharashtra. In this festival, outstanding films in various categories are selected by an international jury for Golden and Silver Conches and hefty cash prizes. The festival aims to serve as a platform where the filmmakers of the world can meet and exchange ideas, explore the possibility of co-production and market their films.

In August 2003 over 300 Indian documentary filmmakers came together to protest the attempt by the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to make censor certificates a mandatory precondition for Indian documentaries entered into the 2004 Mumbai International Film Festival. The documentary filmmaking community saw through this apparently innocuous step, recognizing it as a part of a wider structure of control and repression, where the rights to free speech, dissent and even creative expression are increasingly coming under threat in India. In an unprecedented display of collective resistance, filmmakers from across the country organized around the Campaign Against Censorship, and were successful in forcing the ministry to drop its attempts to introduce censor certification for the festival. The filmmakers then set in motion Vikalp—Films for Freedom, an independent documentary film festival. After a stopover at Bangalore, the celluloid caravan traveled on to Trivandrum, Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata.

The Indian documentary community is now looking at expanding its horizons. Pandey has already been invited to be a jurist for the 2004 Wildscreen, where he is also a finalist for the esteemed Filmmaker for Conservation Award. Vanishing Giants, his film on the elephant crisis in India, is also a finalist for a Panda Award. Patwardhan was the keynote speaker at Silverdocs in the US in June, and Sharma picked up the Wolfgang Staudte award at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year.

In the near future it seems there will be a documentary film made by an Indian filmmaker screening at a theater near you….

Bhuvan Lall is president and CEO of Lall Entertainment, a company based in Los Angeles and New Delhi.

POP UP DOCS will be screening POWERLESS at The Eastern Eye Restaurant, Bath on Feb 26th, 2015

A little Nanook before Christmas…

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It seemed only right that at some point, a pop-up cinema specialising in documentaries should screen “the first ever documentary film” : NANOOK OF THE NORTH.

Although made in 1922, the film feels far from stale. It still had our audience laughing and gasping at this incredible story. There was much discussion afterwards about how Flaherty would have managed to film under such difficult conditions. Researching further I was shocked to discover just how much equipment he did carry with him. In HOW I FILMED NANOOK OF THE NORTH (1922), Robert Flaherty writes:

“My equipment included 75,000 feet of film, a Haulberg electric light plant and projector and two Akeley cameras and a printing machine so that I could make prints of film as it was exposed and project the pictures on the screen so that thereby the Eskimo would be able to see and understand wherever mistakes were made.”

The first scene that Flaherty showed Nanook and the others was the dramatic Walrus hunt footage:

“Our boat, laden with walrus meat and ivory- it was a happy crew that took me back to the Post, where Nanook and his fellows were hailed with much acclaim. I lost no time in developing and printing the film. That walrus fight was the first film these Eskimo had ever seen and, in the language of the trade, it was a “knock-out.””

Its a fantastic scene – and interesting to discover that it was enjoyed by the Innuits themselves as much as by us.

The Pop Up Docs screening of NANOOK turned out to be a great film made better by a fantastic intimate venue that is 44AD. Thanks to all at 44AD for the space – and to FAB for their audio expertise!

The Girls Rocked…

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The screening of GIRLS ROCK! At Komedia was a little unusual compared to our normal screenings. Firstly, we were actually showing the film in a proper cinema rather than our more alternative venues! And secondly, this was the first time we had screened a film aimed specially at kids and teens.


The subject matter of the film couldn’t have been more relevant. Just a couple of weeks after actress Emma Watson’s game-changing speech on feminism at the UN, it felt like the right moment to be watching a film where girls talk about the struggles they go through everyday because of their gender. Issues of feminism don’t receive enough attention and so we felt it was important that Pop Up Docs included a film that addressed this topic. And it was great to see so many Dads and even a few boys turn up too. As Watson points out, feminism should be as inclusive and open as possible – and fathers, brothers and men in general should feel comfortable in calling themselves feminists.


We’re always taking a bit of a step into the unknown with each Pop Up Docs event we do, but this one was particularly unique in that it was so specifically targeted at a young audience. We needn’t have worried though as we had more people than we anticipated turn up and fantastic feedback from the event. Even the mums and dads seemed to connect with the subject matter and we came away wondering why we hadn’t done a screening for under 18s before!

One of the simplest answers to this though is that there are so very few films aimed at kids or that address issues that are specific to children and teens. Documentary already has a reputation for being for niche audiences at prestigious film festivals. The genre isn’t often deemed relevant for the masses, let alone younger generations. So it was refreshing to be able to show GIRLS ROCK! – a film that hopefully will bring a wider audience to the genre. It would be great to do the same sort of event next October half-term… so please keep the suggestions coming for what to screen!