An incredible warm-up documentary festival for the opening of London's first documentary-devoted cinema- The Bertha DocHouse

2015 will see the first UK cinema devoted exclusively devoted to documentaries - The Bertha DocHouse - open in London. Before that however, DocHouse in partnership with Open City Docs, have prepared a mouthwatering documentary festival spread out over two months starting in February, with ten documentaries programmed including some acclaimed hits like Man on Wire and Senna.

The festival starts at Birkbeck University's dedicated cinema, before moving to the new Bertha DocHouse proper (which will sit in the refurbished Curzon Bloomsbury cinema - formerly the Renoir).




A unique strand in partnership with Open City Docs


Thursday 19th February, 2015 at 2:00pm

Birkbeck Cinema & Bertha DocHouse at Curzon Bloomsbury

Season Ticket £40 Individual Ticket £5 - £8

Book Tickets

10 Thursdays // 19th Feb- 30th April (break for Easter 2nd April)

To celebrate the run up to the landmark opening of the Bertha DocHouse screen - the UK's first cinema screen dedicated solely to documentary film - we at DocHouse, in collaboration with Open City Docs, are pleased to bring you a taster of what is to come. Together we have chosen ten of the best documentaries from the DocHouse archives, and in this unique programme we bring them back to the big screen, complete with Q&As from some of the most ground-breaking filmmakers in documentary.

Every Thursday afternoon from 19th Feb - 30th April we will present a gem from the archives; from the breakthrough films that made it big on the silver screen, including MAN ON WIRE and SENNA, to the more intimate, immediate work of filmmakers like Olly Lambert and Sean McAllister, shedding light on the untold stories of those caught in the crush of war.

Initially taking place at the Birkbeck Cinema, and for the final weeks at the Bertha DocHouse screen itself, this series invites you to come along and get inspired by world renowned Directors, Producers, Editors and Cinematographers discussing the films that shaped their careers. Essential viewing for filmmakers and doc enthusiasts alike!

Thursday 19th February, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Leonard Retel Helmrich
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
A portrait of modern-day Indonesia beautifully filmed using a unique 'single shot camera' method, the film follows three generations of a Christian family living among the largest Muslim community in the world.

Thursday 26th February, 3pm
MAN ON WIRE (2008)
+ Producer Q&A with Simon Chinn
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
The breathtaking story of Philippe Petit's now legendary tightrope walk between the twin towers of New York's World Trade Centre in 1974.

Thursday 5th March, 3pm
+ Cinematographer Q&A with Zillah Bowes
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
How do you introduce democracy in a country where the majority are illiterate, warlords control the ballots and many women cannot leave their children to vote? 28 year-old Malalai Joya risks everything to stand in Afghanistan's first democratic elections.

Thursday 12th March, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Olly Lambert
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
Olly Lambert takes a close look at the gulf between personal filmmaking and making docs for TV by comparing two versions of his remarkable footage showing the devastating impact of the war in Syria.

Thursday 19th March, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Sarah Gavron and David Katznelson
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
Against the backdrop of Northern Greenland's exhilarating scenery, meet the 59 inhabitants of Niaqornat. While Lars, the only teenager in town, dreams of escaping, the lack of jobs and melting ice suggest an uncertain future for the tiny, pragmatic community in this endearing and entertaining portrait.

Thursday 26th March, 3pm
SENNA (2010)
+ Editor Q&A with Chris King
Birkbeck Cinema, £5
The story of Ayrton Senna, perhaps the greatest racing car driver who ever lived. Made up almost entirely of archive footage, Senna was a stunning cinematic success, telling an epic tale that twists at every turn.

Thursday 9th April, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Marc Isaacs
Bertha DocHouse, £8 (£5 conc)
Carefully weaving the lives of asylum seekers and expats in the French port, filmmaker Marc Isaacs prompts each to reflect on life in their home country and their dreams for a better future.

Thursday, 16th April, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Sean McAllister
Bertha DocHouse, £8 (£5 conc)
Samir Peter, once the most famous pianist in Iraq now plays to empty lounges. Terrified to return to his home, he sleeps in a bricked up hotel room across the city. Sean McAllister's empathetic and moving portrait reveals the devastating reality of post-war Iraq.

Thursday 23rd April, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Ben Hopkins
Bertha DocHouse, £8 (£5 conc)
The Kirghiz tribe once lived in one of the remotest places on earth, but now having migrated an incredible five times their future is under threat. Mixing ethnographic and authored documentary forms this film is a unique record of a unique people.

Thursday 30th April, 3pm
+ Director Q&A with Gideon Koppel
Bertha DocHouse, £8 (£5 conc)
Gideon Koppel's love-letter to Trefeurig, the Welsh farming community where he grew up, is a creative and lyrical exploration of the dwindling flame of rural life.



Owen Van Spall

Greetings. I am a Film History MA graduate from Birkbeck University of London and a trained NCTJ qualified journalist. Apart from a long history of film and news writing for this site and various other publications, I am also a trained photographer with my own camera kit. I write mostly every day. Along the way I have picked up work experience at Sight & Sound, The Guardian, The Independent, The FT, The New Statesman, and more. I have written hard news stories, features, arranged and conducted interviews with celebrities, film directors and other major cultural figures, arranged photo shoots, and covered film festivals, conferences and events in the UK and abroad. If you wish to commission me or enquire about full-time opportunities please find my CV and contact details below. A physical portfolio of print only cuttings can also be provided.