In advance of this week’s launch of the new, refurbished six-screen Curzon Bloomsbury (formerly the Renoir), further details have emerged of the UK’s first cinema devoted to documentary.
Set for launch this Friday (March 27), the Bertha DocHouse screen, which will be housed within the Curzon Bloomsbury complex, will show documentaries all year round.
Several films have been selected to help launch the new venue. The first to be shown is Marcus Vetter’s The Forecaster, a profile of the renegade financial wizard Martin Armstrong, who predicts that a sovereign debt crisis will start to unfold on a global level after October 1, 2015.
Receiving their UK premieres on the Bertha DocHouse screen during the venue’s opening week will be Pixadoress, about Sao Paulo’s adrenalin-junkie street artists, and Waiting For August, about Romanian teenagers fending for themselves when their mother moves abroad to find work.
Also screening early on is Agnes Sos’ Stream Of Love, about love and desire among old folk in a remote village in Transylvania.
“We wanted to show that we are across a broad church and not just a particular kind of documentary,” said DocHouse director Elizabeth Wood of the first films that are being shown at the new venue.
DocHouse will screen various titles which have UK distributors attached but will also be dealing directly with sales agents and producers to bring other documentaries to the venue.
“One of the things that makes DocHouse special is that we are really, really keen to find films that don’t have distribution and that we can bring to the public,” Wood commented.
DocHouse is supported by the Bertha Foundation, cofounded by Tony Tabatznik. In 2012, the Tabatznik Trust took an equity stake in Curzon Artificial Eye.
The programming at the DocHouse screen is handled independently.
Picturehouse is also planning to champion documentary at its new Trocadero venue. Wood welcomes the fact that docs will now be readily accessible in London cinemas.
“I have been doing this for a long time with one idea in mind and that is people go to the cinema to watch international docs which they can’t see in many other places,” said Wood.
“God bless ‘Storyville’ and ‘True Stories’ but they’re on cable channels on television. It is great to see documentaries on the cinema, on a large screen. I am delighted, the more (docs) the better.”
Documentaries are also shown regularly at the ICA and are expected to be programmed regularly at the University of Westminster’s Regent Street Cinema, which will open to the public in May under director Shria MacLeod.
Recent research has revealed that 89 documentaries were released in British cinemas in 2013. This was a massive hike on 2002 , when only 13 docs were released, and 2001, when only four were released.
The new Bertha DocHouse screen has its own lounge and bar. Wood envisages that the venue will become a hub for documentary in the UK.
DocHouse is already collaborating with other organisations and festivals, among them The Tate, Sheffield Doc Fest, Storyville, Open City Doc Fest, and the London College of Communication.
The venue will also screen shorts and will also be involved in various educational initiatives.