FEATURE: PEOPLE FOR FILM | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle’s bastion of independent cinema, the Star and Shadow, are preparing to finally reopen their doors this month. Having dipped a toe in radio broadcasting and film streaming, not to mention commissioning artists to create new work and assisting local groups by sharing their space over the last year, they’re proud to have been able to continue to serve their audiences while their doors were closed, as volunteer Adrin Neatrour explains. “The work of the Star and Shadow to keep on functioning has been welcomed by all in the community. It has certainly helped some people combat the isolation of their situation during the past year.”

The venue used some of their downtime to reassess the building’s accessibility and have appointed a new Access Collective to oversee future work. “We have examined issues of the physical access to our space and enjoying our events, and the types of initiatives we need to have in place to make our cinema, our gigs and our protocols open to everyone. We have also built new workshop spaces for community use: a silk screen room, photographic dark room and a green room/office. So the building is much better complemented than before the lockdowns.”

With community at the heart of what they do, it seems fitting that their reopening programme has been chosen by their audience. We are a community cinema, so we decided that the community should lead the way in choosing our re-opening programme.” Says Adrin. “This decision to ask our members and other people with whom we have worked seemed natural to us, because that is how we work.”

We are a community cinema, so we decided that the community should lead the way in choosing our re-opening programme

The month-long People For Film programme kicks off on Thursday 3rd June and continues for four weeks (running Thursday-Sunday), featuring a typically eclectic roster of films celebrating diversity, inclusivity and political awareness alongside some edgy blockbusters. The first week’s programming features Ridley Scott’s visually-stunning neo-noir sci-fi classic Bladerunner; coming-of-age gang drama Boyz n the Hood; Lisa Rovner’s enchanting documentary Sisters With Transistors, which celebrates the unsung trailblazers behind electronic music; and Lee Chang-dong’s mystery thriller adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story, Burning, which will be shown both in the cinema and livestreamed. The following week’s flicks include Juice, a buoyant celebration of hip-hop culture starring Tupac Shakur; sci-fi masterpiece Solaris and the powerfully moving Medicating Normal, which delves into the damage done by the reckless prescribing of psychiatric drugs.

The weekend starting on Thursday 17th June will include director Philip Kaufman’s film of Milan Kundera’s novel Unbearable Lightness of Being, a love story full of tension and confusion; Mila (Apples), Christos Nikou’s tale of epidemic memory loss and grief; and voodoo-realist drama Atlantique. The final week will see the sad, funny and powerful Life Is Beautiful; dark erotic fantasy Heavy Metal; Constanze Ruhm’s essay film The Notes of Anna Azzori; and Call Me Kuchu, an intimate documentary about homophobia in Uganda from directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall.

There’s much more in the pipeline over the coming months, and the venue hope to be back to their full programme as soon as they’re able, as Adrin concludes. “Going forward we hope to re-open for gigs and be back in business supporting all the groups in the community who need somewhere for their voices to be heard.”

The Star and Shadow Cinema’s People For Film festival runs from Thursday 3rd-Sunday 27th June (Thursday-Sunday)

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