Cinema Rediscovered on Tour: Women’s Stories from the Global South (& To Whom They Belong)

Hyde Park Picture House has worked in collaboration with Watershed, Black Cinema Project and Ajabu Ajabu to develop and tour an exciting film programme, a focus on five women’s stories from Morocco, Cuba, Venezuela, Angola and Tanzania.

Curatorial collaborators Mosa Mpetha (Black Cinema Project, Hyde Park Picture House), Darragh Amelia and Jesse Gerard (Ajabu Ajabu) presented five recently digitised or restored works from the Global South that are written by and about women in Cinema Rediscovered Film Festival July 2022. Surrounding each film from this selection existed a uniquely challenging story of ownership and distribution, opening up discussion around the imbalance of power within film cultures perpetuated globally and locally. The strand includes Sambizanga the first film by a woman to be restored by the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative created by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – presented in person at Cinema Rediscovered by Annouchka De Andrade, daughter of director Sarah Maldoror.

All Titles include: Door to the Sky (Morocco, 1989), De Cierta Manera (Cuba, 1974-77), Araya (Venezuela, 1959), Maangazimi: The Ancient One (Tanzania, 2001) and from Angola Sambizanga (1971).

Launching at this year’s festival – the package of films is available to book for cinemas and festivals across the UK from August 2022 to January 2023 with support from BFI awarding funds from The National Lottery and MUBI.

Hyde Park Picture House screened Araya in the City Varieties on 1 November 2022, and A Door to the Sky is showing on 29 November 2022.

We have an interview between Robb Barham (HPPH Operations & Programme Manager) and Mosa Mpetha (HPPH Creative Engagement Officer) about the curational process for this programme.

Robb: So, tell me how this strand came about, how you were invited to participate in Cinema Rediscovered, and how you built the strand together with the people that you were collaborating with.

Mosa: The strand came together through several separate streams of work, and it ended up being much bigger and better than I initially anticipated.

It started with the film Sambizanga; my friend Samra Mayanja and I created Black Cinema Project together a couple of years ago, and we were really obsessed with this film because it was the first film that we showed to our group. On researching the film we came to learn it had a particularly interesting backstory due to the fact that the filmmaker and her daughters were trying to reacquire the rights to get it taken off youtube where a shoddy version was available, and they were trying to get the rights back so they could restore it. They basically wanted people to see it in its full glory. But the producer of the film had sold the rights to a French distributor in a 50 year contract, and the French distributor wasn’t doing anything with the film.

So it really sparked our interest and when we were researching this, we started to wonder about the politics behind film rights and restitution in the film industry. What are the circumstances that allow a film to become locked away in individual, any individuals basement, uncared for and unseen? So we were particularly interested in this story and followed its journey. Unfortunately, the filmmaker, Sarah Maldoror died in 2020, after which her daughters continued on trying to get the film back. Eventually they did, largely because they got support from Scorsese’s Film Foundation and a wider funded project – the African Film Heritage Project.

They managed to get the rights back in order to restore the film which was screened in Bologna in 2021, and it was just a really exciting moment. So essentially, we knew this film had to be seen and appreciated by lots of people, on multiple big screens, and to be treated with the respect it deserves.

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Bill’s Experience of #LIFF2022

Without the coziness of the Hyde Park Picture House or the grandeur of the Town Hall, this year I went for the 6 screenings for the price of 5. Choice is difficult with so many films from so many countries. I decided on:

No Bears (2022)


Highly recommended.  Once again Jafir Panahi uses his considerable film making skills to challenge the Iranian state. This time the film actors are in Turkey while Panahi directs from Iran close to the Turkish border because of government restrictions on his movement. There are stories within stories. 

In 2010 the Iranian government banned Panahi from film making for twenty years for propaganda against the state but with huge international support he found ways to continue. Since No Bears was released he  has been rearrested and is currently serving a six year prison sentence. The screening I went to was sold out.

Zuhal (2021)

A very well made black comedy about a lawyer who hears a cat meowing in her Istanbul apartment. Or does she? The sound takes over her life, as she struggles to find an explanation. Excellent cast. Recommended. (Presented jointly with Bird’s Eye View and Reclaim The Frame).

Casque d’Or (1952)

A newly restored taut French thriller. Set in 1902, it shows the struggle between an ex-con who is trying to go straight, and a local gangster boss. The reason? Marie (Simone Signoret) who is a force to be reckoned with. Highly recommended.

We Might As Well Be Dead (2022)

This satirical film creates a coherent dystopian world with a tower block as a refuge from dangers in the surrounding countryside. I struggled a bit with following the plot, but interesting enough for me to consider a repeat viewing.

Fanomenon Shorts

As well as aliens trying to take control of human relationships and breeding, I enjoyed the Japanese film Theatre (2022). Staff at a Tokyo cinema carry out plans to ensure its survival during Covid, with the help of a ghostly spirit. Inspiration for the Hyde Park Picture House!

Return to Seoul (2002)

This is summed up by the subtitle: all the people I’ll never be. Freddie, a 25-year old French adoptee goes to South Korea to find her biological family. Based on a true story. An emotionally intense exploration of clashes of cultural values around family and society in the two countries. Ji-Min Park, the headstrong Freddie, gives a powerful performance in her first film. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to all the LIFF22 staff, volunteers and venues for bringing it all together. 

Bill Walton

Job Opportunities At The Picture House

At our Annual General Meeting a few weeks ago, Wendy mentioned that as well as all the building work they would soon be starting to recruit for new roles to facilitate the reopening and ongoing operation of the Picture House. There are now five roles being advertised:

  • Deputy Operations Manager
  • Deputy Projection and Facilities Manager
  • Projectionists
  • Cinema Venue Coordinators
  • Cinema Services Coordinators

You can find out more details about these roles and how to apply on the Hyde Park Picture House Opportunities page on their website.

They will also be running some drop-in sessions where the cinema team will be available to meet in-person and answer any questions you have about the roles or the recruitment process. These will be at the Cardigan Community Centre (145-149 Cardigan Rd, Burley, Leeds LS6 1LJ) on:

  • Thursday 20th October (11am – 2pm)
  • Friday 21st October (11am – 2pm)

Heritage Open Days

Hyde Park Picture House normally opens its doors every year as part of Heritage Open Days but this year, they have decided to use the On the Road programme to take the love of all things heritage out and about across the city through a range of events. Wendy has written about this on the Leeds Heritage Theatre website and there is an overview of some more events happening this September below.

You can find out more about the Heritage Open Days on their website which includes a search to find events all over the country. There is also a booklet of Leeds events available from LCC Libraries, Museums and Galleries or as a PDF download.

The Lost Films of Louis Le Prince

Friday 9th September 2pm – Leeds Becket University

This illustrated lecture from historian Irfan Shah will investigate the work of Leeds-based film pioneer, Louis Le Prince. It will take place in the exciting new cinema space of Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett University.

In the years 1888-89, Louis Le Prince shot at least six continuous motion picture sequences in the city of Leeds, of which only a few seconds of three remain. Researcher, Irfan Shah, tells the story of the lost films of Le Prince and shows how Leeds itself was not merely a location for them but an essential ingredient of the inventor’s work.

You can read more about Louis Le Prince in our blog post “Louis Le Prince – moving image pioneer – 1841 to 1890” from earlier this year.

More Details

Screenings at Palace Picture House

Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th September – Leeds Industrial Museum

Nestled amongst the Kalee Projectors and Louis Le Prince’s early cameras, there will be a mixed programme in celebration of our favourite astounding invention: film.

Featuring:

  • Shorts programme: Cinema Memory (30min) – 12.30pm and 1.15pm
  • Hyde & Seek Screening: A Grand Day Out (1994, U, 24min) and The Wrong Trousers (1994, U, 30min) – 2.00pm
  • Minute Bodies: The Intimate Works of F. Percy Smith (2017, U, 53min) – 3.10pm

More Details

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Celebrate Yorkshire Day with Billy Liar

Wednesday 3rd August 6pm Leeds University Union

To celebrate Yorkshire Day this year there is a screening of Billy Liar (1963) at Leeds University Union on Wednesday 3rd August at 6pm.

Before the film there will be a brief update on the upcoming changes to the Friends Membership scheme and how that fits in with the development, changes and reopening of the Picture House in the autumn.

The Friends will be moving to an annual “Pay What You Decide” membership model and focussing more on our charitable aims. Soon, The Hyde Park Picture House will be introducing their own new membership scheme which will include discounted tickets and other benefits.

We’ve made these changes because membership schemes are an important way for cinemas like the Picture House to raise income and grow audiences. The primary motivation for the Friends has always been different, focussing on our charitable objects to support and celebrate the cinema. At this point clearly separating the two so both could thrive felt like a great opportunity.

We’ve put together a page of Frequently Asked Questions on our website which explains things in more detail but if you have any other questions please get in touch

Back to Billy Liar in which Tom Courtenay plays an irresponsible funeral director’s clerk, who fiddles the petty cash, is at war with his parents, and has become involved with two young women who share the same engagement ring. An incorrigible liar and day dreamer by nature, whenever possible, Billy retreats into a fantasy world where he is the hero: a dictator of an imagined land of Ruritania or a famous novelist. Anything to avoid have to make a decision, grow up, get out.

Filmed on location in Bradford and Leeds, Billy Liar is outlier to the brand of kitchen-sink realism then current in 60s Britain. Director John Schlesinger, with screenwriters Keith Waterhouse (who wrote the 1959 novel the film is based on) and Willis Hall, craft a wonderfully cast and irreverent film that sits somewhere between reverie and reality, cleverly mirroring the modernisation of British society at the time.

A Positive Start To 2022

Chair of the Friends, Bill Walton has started to get out more and take advantage of some of the many films on offer, here is a round up of some of the films he has seen so far this year.

The Picture House On The Road programme has screened some gems:

Licorice Pizza (2021) directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. A delightful romance between Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman (talented son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) ably supported by actors including Sean Penn, Tom Waits and Bradley Cooper. A little over long at 133 minutes, but great entertainment.

Parallel Mothers (2021). Once again Pedro Almodóvar shows his talent for getting superlative performances out of a cast including Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit and some babies who certainly qualify as emerging talent. It includes important themes such as giving a decent burial to people killed in the Spanish Civil War (a conflict which seems more significant with today’s struggle for democracy in Ukraine); and the part women play in child rearing (Penelope Cruz puts on her ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt to underline the point).

At the HEART Centre in Headingley I watched:

In the Heat of the Night (1967). A celebration of the contribution of Sidney Poitier to film, and to his confrontation of racism more generally. A great performance by Rod Steiger too. A film that retains its power over 50 years later.

Border (2018) an imaginative Swedish film about a customs officer who is not all she seems. Entertaining and thought provoking.

Honeyland (2019). A beautifully photographed story showing the vulnerability of living at subsistence level (in Macedonia), and the fragility of ecosystems plus a cast of many thousands (of bees).

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), a ‘food and film’ event with this classic film, another reminder of war in Europe, accompanied by delicious paella.

So the word is that great film offerings are available and audiences are starting to return. Venues are going out of their way to keep everyone safe. What are your highlights of the year so far?

The reopening of our rejuvenated Picture House is now only about six months away. With our Annual General Meeting behind us, the Friends’ Committee is actively putting plans into place to give you new opportunities to become involved. 2022 is set to be an exciting year!


Bill Walton

Andy’s Look Back At 2021

Our newest committee member, Andy Smith, takes a look back at another unusual year in cinema.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty let me put some context around where my film preferences lie: Here are some of my favourite films, by which I mean films that I would happily watch over and over again, but not on a loop! (in no particular order): Casablanca (1942), Ex Machina (2014), Leon (1994), Dirty Harry (1971), Farmegeddon (2019), Wall-E (2008). I don’t mind a suspense film but I am not a fan of horror or ‘action’ movies. Although Tenet (2020) was simply brilliant… My wife and I always mark a film out of 10 as we leave the cinema – it has to be our instant impression, given without conferring which we then average and record. More that 8 is very good, less than 2 means we probably walked out if we could without disturbing people. 10s are like hen’s teeth.

The first half of 2021 was spent watching films on-line via a 12 inch laptop or DVDs via a projector on to the sitting room wall trying to replicate “The Experience” of the big screen – we even got ice creams in. It was a poor substitute.

From May we were back in cinemas and managed to rack up 20 films between then and the end of the year. Most of them were excellent – only one was poor. So a good strike rate.

The first film was Nomadland – pretty much a 10/10. What an interesting ‘storyline’ fantastic direction (Chloe Zhao), great characters (Frances McDormand, David Strathairn and members of the nomad community), cinematography (Joshua James Reynolds) and social comment.

Frances Mcdormand in Nomadland
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Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Tara (Charles Dickens’ servant, played by Anna Murphy): Is Tiny Tim dead?
Scrooge: Well, of course he is, imbecile.
Charles Dickens: He was very ill.
Scrooge: You can’t save every child in London.
Charles Dickens: And the family has no money for a doctor.
Tara: Then Scrooge must save him!
Scrooge: ME?
Charles Dickens: He wouldn’t…
Tara: WHY?
Charles Dickens: Well, he’s too selfish.
Tara: He can change, there’s good in him, somewhere. I know it.
Scrooge: People don’t change.
Charles Dickens: He’s been this way, for a long time. I’m not sure he can change.
Tara: Of course he can, he’s not a monster.
Scrooge: I thought this was a ghost story, not a fairy tale.

Forty people joined us for the Friends’ screening of the 2017 film The Man Who Invented Christmas. It tells the story of how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) wrote and published “A Christmas Carol” during a frantic six weeks in the run up to Christmas 1843. Many thanks to Wendy the Picture House manager and her team for making the arrangements.

It is easy to underestimate the challenge of writing and publishing a book (or making a film for that matter) to a very tight deadline with a very limited budget. Dickens had written Oliver Twist in 1838 but that had been followed by three unsuccessful books. He often had writer’s block, was heavily in debt, and had a large family to support. He could easily have ended up in a debtors’ prison as his father did. Despite this A Christmas Carol became one of the best selling books of all time and went on to influence the way Christmas is celebrated across the world.

This film is not a documentary but does draw upon Dickens’ life experiences, including the ridicule he faced as a child while forced to work in a blacking (metal polish) factory. It’s worth watching for the locations, costumes and the photography, and especially for its portrayal of Dickens’ interactions with the characters which highlights the creative struggle at the moral core of the book, And I enjoyed spotting Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Miriam Margolyes, Miles Jupp and Simon Callow among the cast.

However. the film treats lightly the deep flaws in Dickens’ personality, including his recklessness and instability and his ill treatment of his wife. In my view the film is a very interesting “one-watch” but too sentimental to become a regular feature of Christmas screenings,

Agree/disagree? We welcome your comments or reviews below.


Bill Walton

Bill’s Festival Highlights

Another good year! Special thanks to the Leeds International Film Festival 2021 team for screening an impressive selection of films despite Covid and the non availability of the Hyde Park Picture House and Leeds Town Hall this year.

I watched a total of 8 films

Dear Future Children (2021). Very powerful interviews with young women activists facing huge personal risks in Hong Kong, Santiago and an Ugandan village, plus Q&A with the director.

The Ants and the Grasshopper (2021) following two Malawian women who share experiences of climate change with people from a wide variety of backgrounds in the USA. Great to have this screened while the COP26 Climate Conference was being held in Glasgow. (Available on LeedsFilmPlayer until Thursday)

No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics (2021), with interviews with some key American women and men artists. The documentary shows how they adapted from underground comics in the late 60s, to supporting people through the AIDS epidemic, leading on to graphic novels and a Broadway show. (Available on LeedsFilmPlayer until Thursday)

Seven Samurai (1954). Great to see on the big screen. Actors were really tough in those days!

Paris, 13th District (2021). Some interesting insights into life in the eight tower blocks of Les Olympiades.

Medusa (2021). A Brazilian feminist horror film. Despite an interesting soundtrack and colour design I struggled to follow the plot in this one.

Compartment No. 6 (2021). A great film showing the common humanity shared between a female Finnish archaeology student and a male Russian mineworker on a long train journey to Murmansk.

The Hand of God (2021). The first half is the hugely entertaining story of a gathering of an extended Italian family, followed by the story of how this and other life experiences have influenced the director’s (Paolo Sorrentino’s) work.

This is but a small taste of the huge range of films on offer. Once again it shows the importance of International Film Festivals in building the  global understanding that we so urgently need.


Bill Walton

Leeds International Film Festival 2021

It’s that time of year again and #LIFF2021 is heading back into venues and also making lots of films available to watch online. Earlier this week committee members Bill Walton and Andy Smith attended the launch of the festival and share their first impressions.

For me one of the delights of the Leeds International Film Festival has been settling into the comfy seats of the Hyde Park Picture House, and watching several films in a row. A pleasure deferred until November next year…

This year we had the usual LIFF launch, with a breathless back to back screening of many short trailers for 55 minutes. This approach does give an impression of the variety of films on offer but is not ideal for decision-making. However I came away with a few clues:

But this is just scratching the surface. I haven’t had time yet to delve into the printed programme yet, so these impressions are very much subject to change. I suggest that you have a look for yourself!

Bill Walton

I always look forward to the LIFF preview so after missing last year it was with a sense of anticipation that I went along to the Vue on Wednesday especially as the venue was bragging about their new seats….I could have happily watched more trailers [and you now can – see below] but was glad that the screening was only 55 minutes as I could not have slouched in those seats for any longer despite having fiddled with the adjustment throughout, there was not a comfortable setting for a back now in its 7th decade….

It was a whirlwind of trailers….

I picked out the same ones as Bill plus:

Our task is now to go through the brochure and working out which films and venues align with work and other commitments with the backstop of the Leeds Film Player [the clashfinder can help with this]

Andy Smith


The festival guides are available from Vue Leeds in The Light, Leeds Town Hall now and more sites around Leeds and Yorkshire soon. For a guide in the post, email your details to leeds.film@leeds.gov.uk.

A PDF version is available online and tickets and passes are on sale now.

A number of festival fans have also put together some things that may help you plan your festival.

  • Clashfinder – see what films are on at the same time, highlight your choices, export to your calendars
  • The Films of #LIFF2021 – a Letterboxd list of most of the films showing at the festival
  • Online films at #LIFF2021 – a Letterboxd lists of most of the films available on the Leeds Film Player during the festival
  • LIFF2021 Trailers – a YouTube playlist of 80+ trailers for films at the festival