London isn’t lacking when it comes to incredible cinemas. From the eyeball-busting BFI IMAX in Waterloo, to East Finchley’s Phoenix, which dates back more than 110 years, the capital’s film fanatics are well served.
But now, a cinema has emerged that should go right to the top of your must-visit list — and it can be found hidden away in the back of a shop on Lower Clapton Road.
The 15-seater screening room is the creation of Ciné-Real, the only film club in the UK to play movies exclusively on celluloid, using an old-school projector. Founded by director Liam Saint-Pierre and projectionist Ümit Mesut, the club has been hosting screenings since 2011, and currently holds a residency at the Castle Cinema in Hackney.
The new venture, however, is housed within a back room of Ümit & Son, the shop first opened by Mesut back in the 1980s. Specialising in super 8mm and 16mm film, the shop is a landmark in its own right, crammed full of film cans and classic movie posters.
The tiny new cinema has space for 15 people — sat either in the retro-style seats, or the slightly larger “VIP” seats across the aisle — and can be hired for £250, which works out at just over £16 per person.
Films can be chosen from the Ciné Real collection — previous picks have included the 1954 crime drama On The Waterfront starring Marlon Brando, and Plan 9 from Outer Space, a 1957 sci-fi horror featuring Bela Lugosi — with Mesut in charge of running the projector. He’ll also provide the popcorn, with guests allowed to bring their own booze.
“I’ve always wanted my own cinema, but it hasn’t happened yet,” says the 61-year-old Mesut in a short film about the creation of the cinema, which took six weeks to build. “The next best thing: we’ve got our own micro-cinema coming in.” Watch the short film below.
To book the Ciné-Real screening room, call the shop on 0208 985 1766 or visit Ümit & Son in person at 35 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NS. For more information on the screening room, head here.