2015 marked the year Lewisham finally stopped being the only London borough without a cinema, as the community-funded and built Deptford Cinema finally opened its doors, having taken over an old shop on Deptford Broadway. The cinema has got right down to business with a raft of special screenings and seasons planned, including the fantastic "Cinemania New Worlds" season, but the Smoke Screen's first visit to the new venue coincided with an intriguing and diverse programme of short films by female filmmakers playing as part of the Shorts on Tap season.
The cinema itself is small, and the staff and volunteers are still putting the various bits together (there will be wallpaper and carpeting, maybe one day) but the projector and sound system were more than fine for the packed crowd that jammed into the basement screening room - the screening was oversubscribed, which is probably a good thing if you are new cinema looking to attract attention. Its a charming, and hopefully permanent addition, to a part of London that has been gathering increasing attention in recent years for its cultural richness.
Shorts on Tap aims to showcase short films, from both up-and-coming and well established film makers, at venues all over London. The screening at Deptford Cinema was part of Shorts on Tap's ongoing "Women in Revolt" roving short films event season, funded by Film London's Boost Award and arranged in collaboration with Club Des Femmes: a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through art. Women in Revolt is three screening events across London aiming to specifically focus on female film-making, showcasing works that depict, describe and challenge the very essence of being a woman, and investigate sex, sexuality and the body.
The shorts playing at Deptford Cinema were linked under the banner of "Crossing Boundaries", and there was not a weak entry amongst the films, all of which explored female encounters with personal challenges, and physical and conceptual barriers. The Archangel shooting locations for Maria Loyter's sexual awakening tale Ice Floe made for a hauntingly beautiful and striking backdrop, whilst the illuminating Taklif from Maryam Tafakory abstractly, yet powerfully, related the innocent perspective of a young Iranian girl as she is prepared for a womanhood ceremony at what many would consider a startlingly early age. If there was a highlight though, it had to be Stephanie Zari's blackly funny, disturbing, yet also very touching Marigolds, that morphed from a twee domestic comedy about a mother fussing over her son and his new girlfriend into something that hinted at a much deeper and more troubling relationship between mother and child.
The next Women in Revolt screening is at Hotel Elephant on April 20 at 8pm.