…there’s a quirky cinema that encompasses (almost) all the Pop Up Docs values. And this year I finally got to go there!
At Pop Up Docs we spend a lot of time blue-sky thinking about unusual and alternative venues for our films. We choose each venue specific to the film we are screening and we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting spaces.
But when travelling around New Zealand earlier this year I came across a fantastic cinema that seemed to have that quirkiness, comfort and affordability we try and achieve at each screening – all wrapped up in one venue… the Cinema Paradiso.
This twin screen classic movie theatre is in the resort town of Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island. Sandwiched between a stunning lake and dramatic mountains – it is a breathtaking location.
But even for all its natural beauty, one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions is actually a small cinema on the edge of the centre of town. As you walk in the door it felt like walking into the cinema version of the Empire Records store. The staff know their films, they bake fresh cookies for their customers and you get the feeling that this is more than just a ‘job’.
In the cinema itself you can choose to watch the film from a comfy old sofa or even from inside an old Morris Minor. Halfway through the film there is a short interval when you can sit down and have some food – before taking your drinks back in for the second half of the film. It was almost like being round someone’s house – and a far cry from the modern, faceless, overpriced cinemas we are so used to these days. This was ‘hugge’ cinema!
And the Paradiso doesn’t just show art house films – their schedule was an eclectic mix of Hollywood blockbusters, indie films and even feature docs. Literally something for everyone.
I came away inspired and hope we can include a little bit of the Paradiso spirit in to some of our future screenings…
Last week we were proud to be able to host a preview screening of director Rachel Meyrick’s feature documentary WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME. Here she talks about the experience of screening her film with us…
If working on something for 4 years alone and finally showing the finished thing to a room of people wasn’t hard enough, POP UP DOCS had found me a court room for it to happen in.
Bath Council Chambers in The Guildhall, Bath was POP UP DOCS latest amazing venue for the first ever (preview) screening of WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME, a documentary about how American women struggle in court to keep custody of their children after leaving their abusive partners – sadly, most of the time they fail due to an inept court system.
A stunning Georgian Council Chamber with dark wood curved seating and the big screen at the front. I sat at the back watching the audience carefully for signs of fatigue or boredom and was really concerned when the credits came up and still not a sound. Turns out, everyone was a bit stunned which was GREAT! We had a lively Q and A session hosted by POP UP DOCS’ Clair Titley, a woman who was instrumental in the final structure of the film as my edit producer. One year ago POP UP DOCS had hosted a test screening of a roughcut of this film in order for me to get some kind of understanding of what the audience got from the film. After 3 years of working completely solo on this – camera/sound/producing/making tea, it was very hard to have perspective on what I was doing, so this previous test screening was invaluable.
During the 2016 test screening one of the things that arose was that nobody was clear at the beginning, what the film was about – I had no idea. I think the premise is so shocking they wanted to know upfront what the film was about and get on with following the explanation of ‘why’ for the rest of the film; basically the exact same journey I had just been on over the 4 years making the film.
“How is it that abusive fathers can be getting custody of kids more frequently over the protective mothers?”
Four years on I have a fair grasp on why but still it does not make sense when you say it out loud. During the last year Clair and I had worked and reworked, shot more, killed some of my favourite bits and ended up with a finished product with music and graphics; proud to show it to a fresh Bath POP UP DOCS audience.
One of the highlights at the Council Chambers last Saturday was from an audience member who had also attended the test screening a year previous, as a school counsellor in training she had used the information in the film about the ACE study (Adverse Childhood Experiences study) in her work with teenagers. I found this very moving, as did many others in the room. One woman said she felt like she was on trial like the mothers in the film, sitting, as we were, in a courtroom. Other people wanted to know more about individuals in the film and discuss around whether this is happening in our country in the same manner (it is).
It really felt like those 4 years of unpaid toil was validate by the gratitude with which the audience gave; their engagement with the subject and their palpable passion to see this travesty is exposed further.
Thank you POP UP DOCS
Rachel’s film has been triple F rated and is distributed by WOMEN MAKE MOVIES and you can keep up to date with news related to the film via twitter: @whatdoesnkillme
HERE’S WHAT THE AUDIENCE SAID…..
“While most audiences are enjoying the fairytale ending of Beauty & The Beast this week, WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME exposes a national travesty that can barely be believed. Both sensitive and shocking, this documentary lays bear a problem you never knew existed but one you know needs solving. Rachel has clearly worked very hard to bring this story to the big screen but above all, is incredibly brave to tackle such a subject for her directorial debut” – David Wall – Director & Co-Founder, Dusted
“In a world where social and legal equity is still in short demand for many, films like What doesn’t kill me are crucial for giving a voice to the voiceless and the silenced. It is a powerful portrayal of how those with social, economic and political capital can crush those who do not. What doesn’t kill me does that rare thing of uncovering a largely unknown, but pervasive, scandal through the telling of personal stories of women whose lives have been inexorably affected by wide scale systemic failure. “ – Chris Sowton, Freelance International Education Consultant
“WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME was harrowing viewing and yet left me feeling fired up rather than despairing. The mothers featured in this film have been crying out to be heard and the hope and trust that Rachel inspired in them is palpable. I came away hopeful that this film has the power to change things, to open people’s eyes to the suffering of victims of domestic violence and the further injustices many have to endure should they dare to speak up for themselves. As an adoptive parent, I live with the traumatic effects of domestic violence. This film gives powerful voice to victims of domestic violence, making it clear that more must be done to protect them and make it safe for them to escape before the damage becomes irrevocable.” – Bo Wiseman, Video Production, Adoptive Parent
“This is a powerful and timely film that manages to be a call to arms that conveys the gravity of the subject matter, whilst at the same time avoiding getting mired in accusations and politics. That being said it has the weight to open eyes and hopefully help to bring much needed change.” – Dan Wiseman – Wiseman Productions
WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME gave me amazing insight into the hidden lives of those living with the consequences of domestic abuse. The film gave a voice not just to the abused partners but also to the even more rarely heard voices of the children affected. An amazing piece of work that all those interested in social injustice should see. – Angie Sowton – In School Child Counsellor.
From working in a pea factory to detention in Syria and curating Arts & Culture, McAllister brings more than your average Film Director…
Sean McAllister is joining tomorrow’s POP UP DOCS screening of A SYRIAN LOVE STORY, his multi-award winning documentary from 2015. We are really excited for this opportunity to talk with him about this story of love and revolution, documenting Raghda, Amer and their family’s efforts towards political freedom, filmed over a period of 5 years.
Most recently, McAllister was invited to curate MADE IN HULL, an enormous celebration of his native city for the opening of Hull’s year as 2017 UK City of Culture. Among other eclectic subjects: industry, fishing, clubbing and caravans were presented as a visual arts festival 1-7 Jan 2017 with a walking trail, artworks, projections and soundpieces.
“This seems a departure from your international documentaries or studies of Hull’s working classes…
I wanted to say no when I was offered it, but it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that you can’t walk away from, and it opened my eyes to a different way of working, with a huge team, delegating a lot of the ideas. Our aim was to make the working-class population, 280,000 people, feel involved, because those people don’t naturally feel involved in what is called art or culture. Having worked in factories and come from that culture myself, I don’t naturally feel that is my world either.”*
Since his first film WORKING FOR THE ENEMY Sean McAllister has won many awards and received much high praise for his work. A SYRIAN LOVE STORY was awarded the Grand Jury Award at Sheffield Doc Fest, the Special Jury Award at Biogram Festival and rated 3rd best film of 2015 by Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian, all in 2015.
*Nick Curtis interview of Sean McAllister, 1st Jan 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/01/sean-mcallister-made-in-hull-city-of-culture.
Aside Posted on Updated on
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.