The Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House online Annual General Meeting on February 1st 2021 was attended by 42 people. It was good to have so much interest. However this number fell below the quorum we needed to make formal decisions. We went through all agenda items and recorded your views in the draft minutes (which will be available soon).
We have arranged an online Special General Meeting on Monday March 1st at 7pm to take the formal decisions needed, guided by the AGM discussions. This time the quorum will just be the number of people attending rather than a set figure.
This shorter than usual Special General Meeting will be followed by discussion of ways ahead for the Friends over the next few years and beyond. We look forward to your contributions on ideas for future activities, working groups and Committee membership, the relationship of the Friends to the Picture House, and what membership of the Friends means. If you would like to raise anything ahead of the meeting please contact us.
Instructions on how to join the meeting will be sent to members via email nearer the time.
Unfortunately we haven’t been able to put on our Christmas screening this year but there are other events and festive treats to be found online. Heart’s Lockdown Film Club continues on Fridays (see Bill’s post for details), the Kennington Bioscope seasonal special is happening tonight (7:30pm Youtube) and Carol Morley is bringing her Friday Film Club back for a festive special this Friday (18th December) at 8pm.
Director Jeanie Finlay has visited the Picture House a few times with Sound It Out and most recently Seahorse. Her 2015 film tells the story of how a small community theatre fights to keep afloat in austere times so is perhaps even more relevant today.
“The film captures magnificently the spirit of the production in all its chaotic, funny, joyful and exhilarating glory”
A link to watch the film for free will be available on Friday (see @CarolMorley‘s Twitter page or the #FridayFilmCub hashtag for more details ), the idea is to watch at the same time and then go on Twitter to discuss the film. If you’re not on Twitter you can still watch the film and tell us what you thought in the comments below.
We’ll keep an eye out for any other online events or great films that available to watch at home over the festive period and hope that you all manage to still find a way to enjoy the holiday period.
When we postponed our AGM (which was originally planned for May) we hoped that we would still be able to hold it later in the year. Unfortunately that has not been possible and with no clear sign of when we would be able to hold a meeting, we have decided it move it online.
Our ‘2020’ AGM will now take place on Monday 1st February 2020 at 7pm as a Zoom meeting. We will provide further details in the new year but you can find some of the documents that will be presented on our AGM page now.
I remember the last picture show. It was on Friday the 13th, or maybe 28 days later. Life became rocky and I started feeling dazed and confused. I took a hard look in the mirror and vowed to never say never again. While it was not exactly a matter of life and death, I was in a lonely place until I joined the Lockdown Film Club. That was a night to remember. Now all is well. Life is beautiful. Members are happy together. So don’t be clueless! No titanic effort needed. Do the right thing and get in touch with the Lockdown Film Club (details below). You will find that you don’t look back.
Since the initial lockdown for Covid-19, the Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House have effectively been in hibernation. This was always planned to an extent given that the cinema was due to be closed for its Lottery-funded refurbishment during 2020. This work has now been unavoidably delayed due to the pandemic and the cinema is likely to stay closed for at least another year.
The Committee has met remotely using the wonders of digital technology and it has been decided given present circumstances to postpone the AGM (though the draft minutes of the 2019 AGM and the Accounts that were prepared for the postponed 2020 AGM, are available). The Accounts includes a brief report on the Friends’ activities since the 2019 AGM.
The Committee have also decided, given the unavoidable continued closure of the cinema, that the current Friends’ membership from 2019, which has already been extended at no charge to the membership, though 2020, will be extended further through 2021 as well. The Treasurer is happy that the Friends can afford this move.
The Committee is continuing to meet and is now engaged on discussing an agreed future for the Friends, given the intention of the cinema to launch its own membership scheme involving discounted tickets, running in parallel to the Friends. The Committee anticipates that this will result in a smaller Friends membership, with potentially a greater focus on volunteering and actively helping to promote the work of the cinema.
The Committee wishes all members and their families well at this difficult time and hopes that everyone has been able to keep safe and to maintain their love of film, even if cinema attendance has been severely curtailed. We look forward to seeing you again soon in happier circumstances.
Committee of the Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House November 2020
Laura Ager, Creative Engagement Officer at the Hyde Park Picture House, has written a guest blog post for the Friends of the Hyde Park Picture House about her ongoing research during lockdown into the remarkable history of the iron lamppost that stands outside our building.
Laura joined the small team of permanent staff at the cinema last summer and her work is facilitated by funding we received from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). A big part of her job is to communicate the value of our cinema’s unique heritage to our local community and beyond. We hope that you enjoy reading this article and please contact us if you have any further information to share about the lamppost or anything related to it!
I have always liked to gaze out of the cinema doors at this red painted cast iron lamppost, it has been a familiar symbol in the neighbourhood for almost three decades of my life. I sometimes wonder about how many of us have arranged to meet friends beside it, or will have smiled as its familiar shape has appeared in view as we headed down Chestnut Avenue or Brudenell Road towards our favourite cinema, looking forward to the friendly greeting at the door.
Its thick, opaque plastic globes are lit up every evening, maybe you have stopped to take a picture there as you have departed, perhaps trying to mark that moment in which we discovered something new about the world, or ourselves, through the power of the film we’d just been watching.
Since 1996 the lamppost has been protected with a Grade 2 listing (listing No 1255796) which means it is inscribed on the National Heritage List for England, these are all buildings and structures that are considered nationally important, being of ‘special architectural or historic interest’. That list is currently managed by Historic England, who offer the following information about the Hyde Park lamppost on their website:
Gas lamp post. Early C20. Cast-iron, Approx 7m high, base and column with relief decoration, ladder arms and 2 scrolled arms, vase finial between.
Last year, in August, Peter Meehan, a specialist from the Historic Metalwork Conservation Company Ltd, visited the cinema to assess our lamppost and he wrote a report about it that contained a lot more detail. In his report he said that the lamppost likely dates from after 1904 and it was certainly manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. The side of the lamppost that faces the cinema doors quite clearly bears their company mark: Macfarlane & Co, Glasgow.
As I have had a little extra time on my hands recently, during these endless months of lockdown, I thought that I’d like to find out a bit more about the history of the foundry and of this unique heritage feature, and to share my findings with our Friends. This has since become a fascinating project in its own right, because it turns out that our lamppost is part of the story of Walter Macfarlane, who was a prolific Scottish ironworks manufacturer in the 19th century. His company flourished for over one hundred years, like our cinema.
From there we are able trace a much deeper set of connections that link our much-loved and perhaps slightly eccentric Victorian lamppost, situated on a corner in a Leeds suburb, with the combined global histories of the British Empire, urban development, technical innovation, public aesthetics, public health, and 19th Century free trade.
What with the temporary closure of the Hyde Park Picture House and the lockdown of other venues, I was really missing my regular cinema visits.
I took out a free 90 days trial of MUBI (still available via the Picture House). which I had never used before. You have to give MUBI your card details when you sign up and if you don’t unsubscribe in time you they start charging you monthly until you do. Current rates are £9.99 a month or £95.88 for a year. You might find some other free trials, for example through Amazon Prime.
MUBI is a streaming platform https://mubi.com which they say will work on any device, (computers, mobile devices iPad, iPhone, Android and smart TVs). They have an ever-changing collection of international, classic, arthouse and indie films. It’s a good chance to see films that you missed first time round, and explore ones that you’ve never even heard of before. Every day MUBI adds a new film that stays online tor 30 days, and they’ve just added a lot more from their film library too.To give a glimpse of what is on offer, here are some titles to give an idea of the range:
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) feminist tale of lesbian desire Frank (2014) comedy
Persepolis (2017) animated story of girl growing up in Iranian revolution
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) dark fairy tale
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) satire
Orgy of the Dead (1965) cult classic
Army of Shadows (1969) French resistance, suspense
The White Sheik (1952) early Fellini
La Bête Humaine (1938) psychological thriller
Grand Illusion (1937) anti-war classic
Let us know in the comments if you’ve joined Mubi (or other services) and have any recommendations.
Our friends at HEART have been organising a weekly online film discussion club during the lockdown.
LOCKDOWN FILM CLUB with Gurj Kang meets on Zoom on Fridays from 7pm
We are a friendly group who discuss films that have been keeping us going through Lockdown. We have a theme each week such as comedy or rom coms and you are encourage to nominate two favourites in advance.
To give you an idea of the variety, rom com favourites included:
Bringing up Baby (1938)
Notting Hill (1999)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
ChungKing Express (1994)
Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down (1989)
Say Anything (1989)
Gregory’s Girl (1981)
The film club is organised by HEART, the arts, enterprise and community centre in the middle of Headingley run by the community for the community. HEART will be the venue for Hyde and Seek family friendly films and for Memory Matinees (screenings inclusive for people with dementia) as the Lockdown ends. There is no charge but members are encouraged to support HEART’s work through Just Giving. https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/heartheadingley
The #HydeParkPick for today is L’eclisse (1962) by Michelangelo Antonioni which is available to watch on MUBI for the next 20 days.
Fresh off the end of an affair with an older man Vittoria meets the vital and exciting Piero. The two start to explore their passion for one another while wandering the deserted suburbs of Rome but their affair soon reveals itself to be doomed.
This pick was selected by Leeds Cineforum who invited Fabio Vighi, Professor of Italian and Critical Theory at Cardiff University, to write about themes in Antonioni’s work for us.
L’eclisse by Fabio Vighi, Professor of Italian and Critical Theory at Cardiff University
The dominant theme throughout Antonioni’s filmography is what we could call, borrowing from French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s 1960s motto, “the non existence of the sexual relationship”. This theme is especially apparent in L’eclisse, where the couple’s failure works as the film’s leitmotif from start (Vittoria leaves Riccardo) to end (Vittoria and Piero break up), effectively bringing the main character back to her initial position. Particularly in his Italian films, Antonioni explores fraught relationships by focusing on middle-class alienation against the background of the country’s rapid modernization. But the originality of his cinema has less to do with sociology than with aesthetics. More specifically, it lies in the way narrative content is over-determined by precise formal choices, which result in a stylized framing of the characters’ positioning within their space. Let us consider the long, almost experimental opening sequence of L’eclisse (1962), set in Riccardo’s flat. The sequence details both Vittoria’s inability to come to terms with her state of emotional drainage and Riccardo’s morose ineptitude at responding to it. Antonioni’s minimalist long takes convey a sense of impasse and claustrophobia, while dialogue is sparse and cryptic. This is clearly a cinema that works by subtraction: while the viewer is denied assistance in retrieving narrative information, the camera slowly pans over various objects scattered around the room, as if more interested in framing them than narrating the lovers’ separation. This aspect of Antonioni’s cinema epitomises his typically modernist penchant for sabotaging narrative progression through the erosion of conventional representations of space and time. That is to say, tension is created not so much through action and reaction, as in classical cinema, but by the opposite process of abstraction, fragmentation and de-dramatization, which ultimately reveals the director’s fascination with seemingly meaningless formal patterns. Continue reading →
Well, it’s been a rather dramatic month hasn’t it?!
Our latest newsletter has been sent out via email to all members (or in the post to those without email). It contains an update on the development plans, details about Hyde Park Picks, how you can help or get support from the community and a request for any information about local cinemas.