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Secret Cinema

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 13th 2010
What would convince you to pay to go to the cinema without first knowing what film you're going to see? This isn't a case of fancying the cinema and seeing what's on when you get there, this is ticket booked and paid for in advance and date marked (in pen) in the diary. Not much?

Well, there's a good chance that the people behind Secret Cinema will be able to tempt you into it.
Read on if you're not afraid of this happening to you...

The secret part of Secret Cinema isn't just the choice of film it's also the choice of location, which is always tied in with the film in some way. Which is one of the reasons their monthly events are so much fun to attend. At a Secret Cinema event you don't just see a classic film, you see it in a location to match, dressed to suit, with food and entertainments to augment the event. If you'd attended the most recent you would have reclined, relaxed, with the several thousand other ticket holders, on the floor of the Alexander Palace watching Lawrence of Arabia ride though the main hall on a camel and this is even before the film had started. This cinema screening didn't just happen in a palace, it was attended by a real camel!

In this instance the audience was encouraged to dress Bedouin which may have given the choice of film away to some people before the night - but half the fun is being sure that it's going to be one film only to find that it's another. A lot of animated chatter about this happens between queuing strangers in competing costumes. There's fun to be had speculating what's going to play from the hints and tips in the invitations sent out to entice you into the event...

Because the protocol's not a secret after you've bought your ticket, and about two days before the screening, you're sent instructions advising you the venue and other important details. Sometimes they include something in the email to print out and bring along - German Identity Cards to let you in to see 'Wings of Desire' for example - and it always mentions the dress code and is worded in the style of the film. Secret Cinema is about having an experience, not just sitting in a dark room watching a flickering screen. When they 'did' 'Blade Runner they transported everyone to the venue a Canary Wharf warehouse made to look like Chinatown 2019 in blacked out double decker buses, warned, by stewardesses for Utopian Airlines, not to talk to the locals and to move quickly to avoid the acid rain. When they 'did' 'Ghost Busters', actors, accompanied by clever projections, re-enacted the film's library sequence as you entered the venue which was an old hotel like the one from the film.

It's not just the venues and the way the audience dresses that creates the atmosphere a huge part of that comes from the actors who walk amongst the crowds playing the part. The many, silent, trench-coated men standing in the cafes you waited in before Wings of Desire, the woman with the albino python outside the Blade Runner 'set', or the crazed man looking for Gozer running around the queue waiting to go in for Ghost Busters. There's usually some kind of 3D addition to the film's key scene as well the camel for example but there's no way of knowing what any of this will be until you brave it and go.

Their motto 'Tell No One' is about the opposite of what you're going to want to do after one of their cinematic shows.

As well as the evenings out mentioned above, the Secret Cinema team have already screened 'Bugsy Malone', 'Alien', the Marx Brother's 'A Night at the Opera' and 'Funny Face' so those are the few films you know you're not going to be surprised with.

If you need further convincing check out their gallery.
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Why? More than just a trip to the movies - it's a proper evening out
When: Also a secret... But about once a month...
Where: It's a secret...
Cost: Around 30
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