Main image: The Florida Project
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 spring film season features Brazilian cinema, powerful documentaries, debut independent films and a big line up of recent Oscar nominees including Darkest Hour, The Post and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Discover the best of Reading Film Theatre, with our highlights and picks of the films to watch in 2018.
Highlights of Reading Film Theatre 2018
Contemporary Brazilian music film season
Every Wednesday until 21 March | 7.45-10pm | £30 season ticket for all ten films, £5.50 per film | See the full Brazilian film series.
RFT’s latest themed season is curated by Dr Albert Elduque Busquets from the University of Reading’s Film School and explores the world of Brazilian music. Ten films, most never screened in the UK, introduce the role that samba, bossa nova, baião and rock music have in Brazilian culture. Each film is followed by a Q&A session with experts and film-makers. Films include:
- Cartola: Music For The Eyes: an account of the life of renowned samba composer Cartola
- The Miracle of Santa Luzia: musician Dominguinhos documents the rich traditions of the accordion in Brazilian music, life and culture.
- Elza: A tender homage to striking singer Elza Soares.
Tuesday 23 January | 8-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
Loving Vincent is apparently the world’s first oil painted animated feature. First filmed in live action, with a cast including Saoirse Ronan and Aiden Turner, the footage was then transformed into the painted style of Vincent Van Gogh by a team of over 100 artists. The plot explores the life, death and legacy of the Dutch artist as a postmaster’s son attempts to deliver a letter to Vincent’s brother Theo.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Thursday 25 January | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
Director Yorgos Lanthimos has a knack for absurdist, unsettling movies. His darkly comic 2015 dystopian drama The Lobster saw Colin Farrell forced to find a life partner within forty-five days, or be turned into the titular animal.
His latest outing, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, heightens the pitch black humour and the sense of dread in an odd, surreal thriller. Colin Farrell returns as renowned surgeon Steven Murphy living a spotless, suburban life with his ophthalmologist wife (Nicole Kidman). When Murphy takes a fatherless teenage boy under his wing, the family find themselves trapped in a disturbing dilemma.
Call Me By Your Name
Thursday 1 February | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
This is the first of four Best Picture Oscar-nominated films screening at RFT this season. Adapted from the André Aciman novel of the same name, it is the final installment in director Luca Guadagnino’s Desire trilogy, after 2009’s I Am Love and A Bigger Splash, from 2015.
A sensuous, languorously-shot love story, Call Me By Your Name follows precocious seventeen-year-old Elio as he becomes irresistibly drawn to American graduate student Oliver over a transforming summer in Lombardy. Partly in French and Italian with English subtitles.
Mountains May Depart (Shan He Gu Ren)
Tuesday 6 February | 8-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
Jia Zhangke is one of China’s most interesting and maverick directors from the socially-charged sixth generation of Beijing Film School graduates. His latest film has finally made it to UK cinemas two and half years after its debut at Cannes.
Spanning three decades from 1999-2025, Mountains May Depart follows the life of Tao (Zhao Tao, Jia’s long-time lead actress) her love triangle between a tiger capitalist husband and coal miner boyfriend and her son’s life in a future Australia. Filmed in three different aspect ratios and taking in three distinct eras, it’s an ambitious and creative work highlighting the personal effects of China’s changing economic landscape.
The Florida Project
Thursday 8 February | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
Director Sean Baker presents a poignant tale of childish adventure set in America’s hidden homeless community. Mischievous six-year-old Moonee lives with her dancer, chancer mother in a tired Orlando motel. We watch Moonee and her tearaway friends explore their world under the shadow of, but a world away from, Florida’s picture-perfect theme parks. It’s proved somewhat divisive though. While critics have declared the film ‘charming and vibrant’, some cinemagoers have called it a film where ‘nothing really happens’.
I Am Not a Witch
Tuesday 13 February | 8-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
I Am Not a Witch also follows the journey of a child, but this time in a much more surreal, and difficult story. When nine-year-old Shula is accused of being a witch in her home of rural Zambia, she is given a choice: be turned into a goat, or live tethered to other suspected witches in a remote forest. Zambian-Welsh filmmaker Rungano Nyoni’s debut picture is confident and takes in remarkable research from her experience as the first foreigner to spend a night in one of Ghana’s oldest ‘witch camps’.
The Disaster Artist
Tuesday 20 February | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
The Room is a ‘90s cult classic that was called the ‘worst film ever made’. James Franco’s new comedy covers the making of that self-funded movie and the fraught friendship between The Room star Greg Sestero (whose memoir of the project this film is based on), and its baffling filmmaker Tommy Wiseau.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Tuesday 27 February | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
This is another Oscar-nominated picture tipped to win big in March. It’s currently making headlines for being both ‘a marvel’ and ‘lazy and problematic’. Whichever side of the line you fall on, it’s worth viewing to make up your mind. Frances McDormand is powerful as a mother calling for justice for the murder of her daughter on three disused billboards in her small Missouri town.
Thursday 1 March | 8-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book 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.
Even When I Fall
Tuesday 13 March | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
This feature length documentary is a hopeful story of resilience following former child slaves Saraswoti, Sheetal and 11 other young Nepalese women who form Nepal’s first circus. The film will be followed by a Q&A from the creative team. In Nepalese with English subtitles.
Thursday 15 March | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
Another much buzzed-about Oscar Best Picture contender, Darkest Hour features a barnstorming central performance from Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. More political thriller than war movie, it sees Churchill navigate the turbulent 1940 battle to persuade parliament to continue the fight for WWII, instead of joining the rising support for appeasement.
Thursday 22 March | 7.45-10pm | £8, £5 for members | Book tickets
The final Best Picture nominee at the RFT this season features the powerhouse creative trio of Spielberg, Streep and Hanks. So famous, you don’t even need their full names. On top of that, it’s also a gripping tale of political corruption. It’s 1971, before Watergate is even a twinkle in Nixon’s eye, and The Washington Times wage a legal battle to publish The Pentagon Papers. The article exposed the US government’s cover up of the purpose and pursuit of the Vietnam War and the film captures alternative facts, challenges to the freedom of the press and a plucky news media in a way that’s especially relevant in 2018.
Become a member of the Reading Film Theatre
Annual membership of the RFT costs £20, or £10 for students and gets you discounted tickets to every screening and event for 12 months. Register for RFT membership.