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Portobello Pop-Up offers a platform for British gems

“British Films That Can’t Get Shown Season” (BFTCGSS) is a great sub-plot within this summer’s Portobello Popup programme.

It is a double header dedicated to exhibiting acclaimed, UK independent films that found making a good movie much easier than getting seen in UK cinemas.

Same Shit Different Day (SSDD) is the first offering in the programme. Made for £10,000, it was shot in and around Hackney for the most part. It has won ‘Best Script’ Portobello Film Festival 2010 and Best Film (no budget) London Independent Film Festival 2011. On the one hand it a simple story about a young man, recently released from prison, who tries to resolve feelings of anger over the shooting of his younger brother while he was inside and reconcile his relationship with his estranged girlfriend and daughter. However, bigger ideas of real communities being destroyed by the rampant commercialisation of London bubble just below the surface.

Writer, director and editor of SSDD, Greg Hall [pictured], attended the screening for a Q&A. He says: “The biggest challenge is getting any distribution channel…If I had eight to ten cinemas like this up and down the country that would be my distribution sorted.”

This echoes one of programmer/curator Alice Goody-Lawrence’s ambitions for Portobello Popup. She sees what has been achieved in three years as a blueprint for others to do the same.

Portobello Pop Up cinema is a true urban phenomena, that thrives in the heart of West London, two minutes walk from Ladbroke Grove tube. Built beneath the Westway, it makes full use of a reclaimed space not conceived for cinema - a real alternative to the faceless multiplexes.

Unlike similar pop up events, Portobello is a permanent. Now in its third year, the summer is certainly its prime time to exhibit. The nature of the space means you are safe from the rain, but not completely cut off from the cold.  Even in July a wiser neighbour sat nearby had brought a blanket to ward off the evening chills. The occasional rumble of the Hammersmith and City train doesn’t detract from the viewing experience. It only makes the ambience more piquant and enhances the sense of the alternative.

Furnished with fruit crate sculptures for lighting, seats from vintage cinemas and other found furniture, the venue suggests a voluntary donation of £4 per screening. “Inclusivity is the key,” says Goody-Lawrence.

“There’s a cinephile in every town and village who could pick up our template … with digital technology, it should get even easier,” she says.

Portobello Popup Summer 2012 runs until July 29. For details of the second BFTCGSS film and other listings see http://www.portobellopopup.com/

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