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10 of the best alternative film clubs in London

silent_cinema The Cultural Exposé © Matilda Egere-Cooper (not to be used without permission)

In the last few years, the number of places you can go to watch a film has increased beyond the drab concrete walls of a multiplex.  Now, you can catch a flick in the friendly atmosphere of the local pub, the luxury of a five-star hotel or the gothic surroundings of the Union Chapel. Such an imaginative choice of locales combined with an eclectic selection of films means there’s more variety for a great night out, so beyond our fave Secret Cinema,  here’s 10 alternative film clubs in the capital guaranteed to enrich your cinematic experience.

Silent Cinema

Applying the same ingenious concept that has made Silent Disco such a popular attraction in music festivals across the UK, Silent Cinema (pictured) provides the audience with wireless headphones so that they can relax and watch a film without any unwelcome background noise. Since there’s no noise pollution, screenings are held in unique locations like the Mile End graveyard or a multi –storey car park. Fittingly, the films that are shown are perennial crowd pleasers, like Grease or Invasion of the Body Snatchers that can be frantically enjoyed without any hint of shame. After all in Silent Cinema, no one can hear you scream (or laugh hysterically for that matter) www.silent-cinema.co.uk 

Bad Film Club

From complete silence to absolute pandemonium. The Bad Film Club’s (the brainchild of comedy duo Nicko and Joe) main goal is to recreate on a larger scale, that priceless living room atmosphere of watching a god-awful film with friends. Sneers and jeers then are not frowned upon during screenings but greatly encouraged creating a unique interactive cinema experience that becomes even more genial thanks to a live DVD style commentary provided by Nicko and Joe, often joined by special guests. From big-budget Hollywood flops like Pearl Harbour to direct-to video sequels like Shark Attack 3, the Bad Film Club covers a great range of cinematic travesties, obeying only one rule: Films must be produced after 1975 as,  according to the comedy duo, this is the “should know better” cut-off point. Celebrated surrealist writer and filmmaker Ado Kyrou once said that “Learn to see the worst films… they are sometimes sublime.” Sure, but they are also really damn funny. www.badfilmclub.com

 Close-Up

For people with more “elitist” taste in films, Close Up offers a fascinating trip to the challenging but ultimately beautiful moving images of the avant-garde and experimental cinema. In addition to monthly retrospectives of the oeuvre of renowned auteurs like Jean-Luc Godard and David Lynch, Close Up also introduces us to the work of less known but equally adventurous filmmakers like Aphichatpong Weerasethakul, whose films was screened last November. For anyone interested in delving deeper into the vaults of film culture and history there is also a library collection of over 14,000 titles that includes rare titles from the early ages of cinema as well as obscure experimental films. Screenings take place at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and the cost of admission for non members is £5 (screenings are free for members). www.closeupfilmcentre.com (44 Pollard Row, London E2 6NB, Closest tube: Bethnal Green) 

 Whirled Cinema

Whirled is unfortunately one of the very few cinemas in London that promote foreign and independent films. In a small but elegant auditorium, film lovers can enjoy an eclectic list of cinematic titles that usually have received a short showing in British cinemas. A great opportunity then to discover contemporary cinematic treasures on the big screen before they are released on DVD. Films are screened every Thursday, Friday & Saturday evening, only for members who can bring along one guest. www.whirledart.co.uk/cinema (259-260 Hardess St Loughborough Junction, SE24 OHN, Closest train station: Loughborough Junction) 

Roxy Bar & Screen

While live music shows and sports evenings are still the principal events that accompany a drink at a pub, lately, bars have started to organize more and more special film screenings, and in the case of Roxy Bar the diversity of films shown is pretty impressive. From releases like The Tree of Life and Bridemaids to horror double bills and cult Japanese films it is difficult to find a genre that it is not covered. Add to this a regular Film &TV quiz that offer cash prizes for 1st 2nd and 3rd place and Roxy may well become your favourite film venue.  Film screenings take place in the back area of the venue Sun-Weds.www.roxybarandscreen.com (128-132 Borough High St  London, SE1 1LB, Closest tube: Borough) 

 Moors Bar

Moors offers another example to support the theory that bars are quickly becoming alternative film venues. The main attraction of this North London bar for film enthusiasts is the Feast on Film monthly event that gives the opportunity to aspiring directors to present their short films to an audience. In addition to this, by showcasing little known feature films (black comedy The Honey Killer is a highlight among this month’s screenings) Moors offers in significant doses one of the purest joys that film buffs so vigorously seek – the discovery of an emerging filmmaking talent. Feast on Film is held on the third Wednesday of every month. www.moorsbar.com/film (57 Park Road, Crouch End N8 8SY, Closest train station: Hornsey Rail ) 

Firmdale Hotels Weekend Film Club

An ideal Saturday night often does not need anything more than a dinner at a fine restaurant, a few drinks in a cosy bar and a nice film. Firmdale Weekend Film Club offers the enticing option of enjoying all three of those in a luxurious hotel. In a beautifully designed screening room you can watch an eclectic list of film titles, like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It is the screening of indisputable classics though that should seal the deal for true film lovers. Who can possibly resist spending a night that begins with a romantic dinner in a fancy restaurant and culminates with a screening of Capra’s heart warming masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life? Screenings take place at the Soho Hotel (4 Richmond Mews London W1D 3DH) on Sundays, at the Covent Garden Hotel (10 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9HB) on Saturdays and Sundays and at the Charlotte Street Hotel (15-17 Charlotte Street London W1T 1RJ) on Sunday. www.firmdale.com

Jameson Cult Film Club

If a lush hotel is the ideal place to watch a Capra’s film then surely a seedy motel would provide the perfect locale for a screening of the granddaddy of all slasher films, Psycho. The transformation of the Union Chapel into the legendary Bates Motel for a Halloween screening of Hitchcock’s horror classic is a perfect example of the fruitful imagination of the people behind the Jameson Cult Film Club as well as of their determination to offer a mesmerising experience to the hordes of film buffs. Watching your favourite film in the company of equally devoted fans dressed as their favourite characters will help you understand not only the lasting impact of a cult film but also the impressive power of a damn good film. Other films screened by Jameson Cult Film Club include Taxi Driver, The Blair Witch Project and Alien. Screenings have taken place in various locations in cities like London, Manchester and Liverpool. www.jamesoncultfilmclub.com

Duke Mitchell Film Club

King’s Cross Social Club, the venue for the Duke Mitchell Film Club’s monthly cult film nights, may not undergo any transformation akin to the ones that characterize the Jameson screenings but the sense of a celebration of the unique beauty that can be found in cult films is equally strong. It will be quite difficult to find a more obscure list of titles than the ones shown in these cult film nights (three words: Turkish Grindhouse Night). To make these events even more irresistibly insane, feature films are mixed with equally far-out shorts and music from exploitation soundtracks (all introduced by the instantly lovable Duke). The cherry on top though is the incredible Trailer Trash, a compilation of B-movie trailers arranged by Alex Kidd, a one- time online editor at HMV, that needs to be seen to be believed. Film nights take place on the last Wednesday of every month. www.facebook.com/thedukemitchell?sk=info (2 Britannia Street WC1X 9, Closest tube: King’s Cross) 

Gothique Film Society

As demonstrated by the two previous entries in this top ten list there is a close affinity between horror fans and film clubs. This of course is not something new. For 45 years now, Gothique Film Society has been championing the artistic merits of horror and fantasy films. Having tracked down obscure titles in a pre-DVD era, Gothique Film Society continues to go strong offering an eclectic list of rarely seen horror and fantasy films. With a list of honorary presidents that includes Christopher Lee and director Terence Fisher, Gothique Film Society has an undisputable status. It is the devotion though that regular members have shown to this society for all these years that strikes as its most laudable merit. A potent reminder that a film club at its heart should be a celebration amongst friends of the unparalleled magic of films. www.thegothiquefilmsociety.org.uk (Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Square, WC1, Closest tube: Holborn) 

Honourable mentions:

The Brockley Jack Film Club (http://brockleyjackfilmclub.co.uk/)

Cigarette Burns (http://www.cigaretteburnscinema.com/)

The Exploding Head Film Club (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Exploding-Head-Film-Club/120102584678252?sk=wall)

Kino London (www.kinolondon.com)

McGuffin Film &Television Society (http://www.mcguffin.info/)

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