Main image: In Between (Bah Bahar)
The end of September means the start of a new university year. But more importantly than that, it means a new season at Reading Film Theatre, our town’s only independent cinema. Housed in the Palmer Building at the University of Reading, Reading Film Theatre is essentially a lecture hall with an impressive screen. It also happens to boast the best and most original cinema programme anywhere in town.
Seats are auditorium style, so it’s not as luxe as Vue or Showcase, but it’s comfortable and, importantly, quiet. Here you’ll find one of the most appreciative and code-compliant audiences in cinema. So far, I’ve visited three times and have 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.
In term time there is a regular and impressive programme of art house and international films mixed with the occasional big budget movie and diverse curated seasons. Reading Film Theatre is run almost entirely by volunteers, and it’s a valuable cultural hub for our town.
To help you discover the best of Reading Film Theatre, we’ve picked out our films to watch and the highlights to look out for in the autumn season 2017.
Highlights of Reading Film Theatre autumn 2017
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Tuesday 10 October | 7.45pm | £8 | Book tickets
11 years after Al Gore picked up an Oscar for his groundbreaking climate change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, he returns with this follow up to remind us things haven’t really changed much since 2006. A very worthy watch. Before the film they will also screen an interview with Al Gore.
Monsters Film Festival
Wednesday 11, 18, 25 October | 7pm | £5 | Book tickets
Just in time for Halloween, RFT present the first of their curated film events, featuring three classic films about monsters. The Golem (1922), Freaks (1932) and, our pick, silent horror masterpiece, Nosferatu (1922). It’s suitably terrifying and complex for Halloween.
Daughters of the Dust
Tuesday 17 October | 7.30pm | £8 | Book tickets
Daughters of the Dust is a poignant, but somewhat forgotten, 1991 film about three generations of Gullah women, descendants of West African slaves, in 1901 South Carolina. The film was reportedly the inspiration behind Beyonce’s ‘visual album’ Lemonade, and received a re-release in cinemas this year. It plays at the RFT as part of Black History Month, with an introduction by Professor Emily West, from the Department of History at University of Reading.
Tuesday 24 October | 7.45pm | £8 | Book tickets
Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow turns her unflinching cinematic gaze to this true story of civil unrest in Detroit in the summer of 1967. The story zooms in on the brutal, day-long, police interrogation at the Algiers Motel, which left three guests dead and nine assaulted. It also stars young British actors John Boyega and Will Poulter in lead roles as a security guard and police officer involved at the Algiers.
In Between (Bar Bahar)
Thursday 2 November | 8pm | Book tickets
In Between follows three Israeli-Palestinian female flatmates in Tel Aviv. One is a hard-working, hard-drinking lawyer, another is a DJ struggling to talk to her parents about her sexuality and the third is engaged to a deeply conservative Islamic fiancé. Each has a seemingly different life challenge, but director Maysaloun Hamoud presents them all as trapped ‘in between’ modern life and tradition, family and freedom. In Arabic and Hebrew, with subtitles.
Thursday 16 November | 8pm | Book tickets
A thriller set inside one small Damascus apartment, In Syria, is claustrophobic and tense. It won the Berlin Panorama Audience Award 2017 and shows the daily struggles of war through one family trying to keep life normal while trapped in their home, with food and water running out. In Arabic with subtitles.
God’s Own Country
Thursday 23 November | 7.45pm | £8 | Book tickets
God’s Own Country has been called “Brokeback Mountain in Yorkshire”. But that does this brooding, moving British picture a disservice. A debut feature from writer/director Francis Lee, it follows Johnny, a young sheep farmer, whose life begins to change when he starts an intense relationship with Romanian worker Gheorghe.
The Death of Stalin
Tuesday 5 December | 7.45pm | £8 | Book tickets
This Soviet satire from The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci opened the Toronto Film Festival only last month. Based on a French graphic novel series, The Death of Stalin sees a cast of comedy gold (including Michael Palin, Steve Buschemi, Jeffrey Tambor and Jason Isaacs) panic in the chaos of the last days of the Stalin regime.
Murder on the Orient Express
Thursday 7 December | 7.45 pm | £8 | Book tickets
It seems we can never get enough of Agatha Christie’s fantastically mustachioed Belgian Detective. This all-star cast reboot is the fourth adaptation of one of the most famous Poirot who-done-its, with director (and president of Reading Film Theatre) Kenneth Branagh working his little grey cells in the lead role. Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench and Michelle Pfeiffer also star.
You can buy individual tickets online above, but if you want to support the RFT more, they have annual membership options available at £25, or £12 for students, which gets you a loyalty card and discounts on tickets.
Reading Film Theatre, Palmer Building, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 2AH