Hackney Picturehouse scores community festival pioneered by Rio cinema in Dalston

THIS YEAR’S London Kurdish Film Festival will be headquartered at the Hackney Picturehouse rather than the Rio, where it was pioneered.

The first Kurdish FF was staged in the much-loved Dalston cinema in 2001.

Gabriel Swartland, Picturehouse’s communication chief, told Loving Dalston: “We’re very excited to be staging the 7th London Kurdish Film Festival at the Hackney Picturehouse.”

The new rival replaced the Ocean in central Hackney E8 1HE which, despite huge Hackney and Arts Council expenditure on the state-of-the-art music venue, had failed. Last year the council gave it to Picturehouse owner CityScreen for a token sum in a deal uncovered by this website.

The Hackney Picturehouse will screen films from several festivals for London ethnic minorities, among them Film Africa. Swartland said that Picturehouse was “thrilled” to be involved with the “major celebration of African cinema and culture”.

The Rio, which styles itself a community cinema, was also the launchpad 17 years ago, for the Turkish FF. In this year’s festival, the Rio will share screenings with other theatres.

Charles Rubinstein, Rio general manager, said: “The Kurdish festival organisers wanted to use the Rio, but we had to decline, mainly for scheduling reasons. I suggested they might like to use the Hackney Picturehouse.”

Community festivals hosted in 2011 include the East End, the London Sex Worker and the Hackney Film festivals, and local community and campaigning organisations had held one-off screenings at the Rio.

Hackney Picturehouse Mare St Lon E8 © ∂å
Hackney Picturehouse and, top, inside the Mare Street cinema

“It has been difficult for the single-screen Rio to accommodate all the requests it receives for screenings and festivals,” Rubinstein continued. “The Hackney Picturehouse will clearly help to meet the demand.”That is not the only step the new movie house is taking into Rio territory.
The Picturehouse is promising art-house and world cinema, parents-and-babies screenings and a children’s cinema club. “Our aim”, the new venue says, is to become “a linchpin of cultural activity in the borough”. The Mare Street theatre will present art-house and world cinema, as well as comedy, live music and DJs. Its membership deals include free screenings and it says it will  stage filmmaker Q&As, a strong audience draw. Chef-led meals will also be available at the Picturehouse’s licensed premises.

David Altheer 020814

* Kurdish FF 17-24 Nov 2011. Contacts: Mustafa Gundogdu mustafa.gundogdu@gmail.com and Kerim Gokturk kerimgm@gmail.com

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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One thought on “Hackney Picturehouse scores community festival pioneered by Rio cinema in Dalston

  1. If the Picturehouse really does screen art-house and world cinema at affordable prices (as the Rio does) and NOT West End prices, it will be a blessing for those of us who have been quite disappointed over the years with the Rio’s very mainstream programming. I would not like the Picturehouse to take business away from the Rio, which has tried to service the community in a limited space, so I hope they can work together to produce mutually beneficial programming. There is still a big untold story about the failure of the Ocean, which, had it succeeded, might have caused some problems to the nearby Hackney Empire. And in the case of the Empire, we have seen what happens to a resource that was tremendously successful when it catered to the diversity of its local community, and then almost collapsed when it tried to become a sub-West End venue.

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