Reading Film Theatre is our town’s only independent cinema. Housed in the Palmer Building at the University of Reading, The RFT is essentially a lecture hall with an impressive screen. It also happens to boast the best and most original cinema programme anywhere in town, screening on most Tuesdays and Thursdays in term time.
It’s not as luxe as a multiplex, but it’s comfortable, much more affordable and, importantly, quiet. Here you’ll find one of the most appreciative and code-compliant audiences in cinema. I’ve never heard a phone ring, or anyone talk beyond the barest of whispers. There’s also a no food policy (there is a cafe outside), so there is no popcorn crunching, or drink slurping.
The summer season sees screenings of Oscar winners, including The Shape of Water and Lady Bird as well as powerful foreign language cinema from Chile, France and Egypt. The season is wrapped up with a documentary and panel discussion for Refugee Week 2018.
Discover the best of Reading Film Theatre, with our 11 highlights and picks of the films to watch in 2018.
Highlights of Reading Film Theatre summer 2018
The Shape of Water
Tuesday 17 April, 8pm, buy tickets
Guillermo del Toro’s Best Picture Oscar winner opens the summer season at The RFT. A sensual, whimsical take on a romantic fairy tale. It sees mute government lab cleaner Elisa (Sally Hawkins) develop an illicit affair with the facility’s captured water monster. It’s no longer on at our multiplex cinemas, so head to the Reading Film Theatre to catch del Toro’s dreamy images on the big screen.
Wednesday 18 April, 8pm, buy tickets
Made with a team of first time actors, Menashe gives us an emotional look inside the often-impenetrable traditions of Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. Following the death of his wife, kindly grocery clerk Menashe is faced with the choice of remarrying immediately or giving up custody of his ten-year-old son. Partly in Yiddish, with English subtitles. This is a replacement screening date for Menashe, after it was postponed due to the snow in February.
Thursday 19 April, 7.45pm, buy tickets
Swedish director Ruben Östlund picked up the 2017 Cannes Palme d’Or for this bonkers surreal art-world satire starring Elisabeth Moss, Danish actor Claes Bang and Dominic West.
When mild-mannered Stockholm museum curator Christian asks a PR firm for an idea to make a splash, they hit upon ‘The Square’, a courtyard where the public are asked to behave responsibly. It’s full of unexpected incidents, moments of spectacle and odd sweat-inducing set pieces, which caused The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw to call it ‘high wire cinema’. Go see it and bring a towel. Partly in Swedish and Danish with subtitles.
Tuesday 24 April, 8pm, buy tickets
Greta Gerwig’s solo writing and directing debut was so assured it got five Oscar nominations. It’s a rare female-centred coming-of-age story with the utterly charming Saoirse Ronan as the central teenager. It’s smart, emotional and bursting with warmth.
The Nile Hilton Incident (A kairóieset)
Thursday 3 May, 7.45pm, buy tickets
Part political thriller, part neo-noir detective flick, The Nile Hilton Incident follows the Cairo police on an investigation of a murdered Egyptian singer weeks before the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. It’s a beautifully shot, fascinating story of a city at breaking point and this is my pick of the season. Partly in Arabic, Dinka and French with subtitles.
A Fantastic Woman (Una Mujer Fantástica)
Tuesday 8 May, 8pm, buy tickets
A Fantastic Woman’s Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Oscar was more than just a triumph for director Sebastián Lelio, the first Chilean to pick up the prize. It was also a reminder of the power of film to make social change. The movie spotlights transgender rights through the story of Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender waitress dealing with the aftermath of her partner’s death who is treated with suspicion and contempt by his family. Two days after its Oscar win, Chile’s president revived the country’s slow moving gender identity bill through Congress. Go and see the story that inspired that change. In Spanish with subtitles.
Isle of Dogs
Thursday 10 May, 8pm, buy tickets
Wes Anderson returns for his ninth unusually delightful flick with a painstakingly produced stop motion fable. A pack of dogs are marooned on a Japanese island following an outbreak of dog flu. There’s a big-name voice cast (Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson) a lot of deadpan humour and nods to classic Japanese cinema. In Japanese and English.
Custody (Jusqu’à la garde)
Tuesday 22 May, 8pm, buy tickets
Winner of the 2017 Venice Silver Lion (it’s the oldest film festival in the world, don’t you know?), this tense family drama follows a divorcing couple and the custody battle over 12-year-old Julien. Miriam and Antoine’s marriage has been punctuated by domestic violence and the judge’s unexpected decision to allow joint custody escalates a nerve shredding domestic drama. In French with subtitles.
Thursday 24 May, 8pm, buy tickets
Maxine Peake gives a formidable performance as a female comedienne fighting her way through the all-male ‘70s Northern England comedy circuit, drawing material from a troubled childhood and her abusive marriage. Funny Cow only got a limited cinema release, so this is a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen.
The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ord nung)
Tuesday 5 June, 8pm, buy tickets
Reading Film Theatre proudly display the F Rating on films in their programme which have been made by or strongly feature women. The Divine Order is one of a small number this season to reach a Triple F Rating, for being directed by, written by and starring a significant cast of women. The rousing Triple F appropriate story follows a Swiss village in 1971, where women go on strike for the right to vote in a society where many endorse The Divine Order: for women to remain at home. In German, Italian and Swiss German with subtitles.
Tuesday 19 June, 7pm, £8, buy tickets
This moving documentary from Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei screens at the RFT as part of Refugee Week 2018, in partnership with Reading Refugee Support Group.
Ai and his film crew document migrants on the move across the world, leaving famine, persecution and war. Individual stories and stark scenes following the huge wave of migrants moving across Europe give a powerful look at the human impact of the 21st century’s massive human migration. After the screening, there will a round table discussion with special guests from RRSG.
Become a member of the Reading Film Theatre
Membership for the summer season is only £10, or £5 for students. It gets you discounted tickets to every screening and event until 19 June. Register for RFT membership.
Hello! I'm Claire, the founding editor of Explore Reading. I'm a Reading native and former digital director of Time Out Shanghai. I founded Explore Reading so no one can say, ‘there’s nothing to do in Reading’, again. When not editing Explore Reading, I'm probably drinking a Manhattan.