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Barbican Cinema April 2024 programme highlights

Reframing and reclaiming narratives are at the fore of this month’s Barbican Cinema programme. The Barbican Young Programmers take control of the narrative in the Chronic Youth Film Festival, while in Family Film Club younger children can discover the joys of experimental shorts, thanks to a partnership with Open City Documentary Festival. LGBTQ+ cinema from East and South-east Asia and its diaspora is explored through the Queer East Film Festival; while a rare screening of the new directors’ cut of Rob Falconer’s Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 offers a frank and unapologetically erotic guide to enjoying safe same-sex encounters in the late 90s. In this month’s Cinema Restored screening – curated by Jonathan Ali, in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival - the work of Afro-Cuban filmmaker, painter and poet Nicolás Guillén Landrián (1938-2003) is given new context by the filmmaker Ernesto Daranas Serrano, and lastly the Silent Film and Live Music offer is the suspense-filled German expressionist classic (and earliest surviving adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula) F W Murnau’s Nosferatu with an entirely original, improvised soundtrack for organ by ECHO Rising Star Sebastian Heindl.

Festivals, Seasons and Special Events

  • Queer East Festival 17– 24 April
  • Chronic Youth Film Festival – 27– 28 Apr
  • Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 – Director’s Cut + ScreenTalk with director Rob Falconer and special guests – Tue 30 Apr

Regular Programme strands


Event Cinema 

  • Royal Opera House Live: Macmillan Triple – Sun 14 Apr 2024
  • MET Opera Live in HD: La Rondine – Sat 20 Apr
  • NT Live: NYE – Tue 23 Apr
  • Royal Opera House Live 23-24: Swan Lake – Sun 28 Apr 


Festivals, Seasons and Special Events

Queer East Festival
Wed 17 – Wed 24 Apr

Cinemas 1 & 2

Barbican Cinema hosts three events in the fifth edition of the annual Queer East Artists’ Moving Image Festival, featuring work from East and Southeast Asia and its diaspora communities which explore notions of what it means to be queer and Asian today. Included in the programme are the opening event, the UK premiere of Geng Zihan’s coming-of-age story A Song Sung Blue (小白船); the debut feature from this rising star of Chinese cinema; and the UK premiere of Carl Joseph E. Papa’s Filipino animated feature The Missing (Iti Mapukpukaw) plus an artists’ moving image programme, Glitch! Rewind. Then we.... which consists of works that rediscover queer images/bodies/temporalities, as an attempt to recall and reassemble our projections of desire. The full programme will be announced on 28 February.

Chronic Youth Film Festival
Sat 27 & Sun 28 Apr 
Cinema 2 

Now in its ninth year, Chronic Youth Film Festival returns to the Barbican with a bold programme entitled OUT-OF-ORDER: A series of films about misdemeanours and transgressions. This is the result of a seven-month collaborative exploration by Barbican Young Programmers aged 15 to 25, who curate and deliver the festival. The weekend includes an international programme of premieres, live conversations, archive film, and an open submission shorts programme, which asks the question: when ways of living, being and resisting are under threat, how can people reassert their agency and reclaim their narratives? The full programme will be announced on 6 March.

Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 – Director’s Cut (18*) + ScreenTalk with director 
Rob Falconer and special guests
UK 1997 (Director’s Cut, 2024), Dir Rob Falconer, 55 min
Tue 30 Apr, 6.30pm
Cinema 1

Five years after David Lewis’ ground-breaking The Gay Man’s Guide to Safer Sex made in 1992, director Rob Falconer made Gay Men’s Guide to Safer Sex 97 as so much new information had become available since the original guide’s release. This later film includes expert advice from medical consultant Mike Youle, fearlessly honest interviews with gay men talking about their sex lives and groundbreaking sex scenes, some featuring adult performer Aiden Shaw.

From kissing tips to full-on intercourse, this frank and sex-positive guide was a refreshing celebration of gay sex at a time when many LGBTQ+ people were pressured into feeling fear and shame. It is an invaluable snapshot of queer life in the 90s, too, backed by a pulsating techno soundtrack courtesy of electro combo Angel.

Screening with: 
Sleeping Dragon
UK 2024, Dir Rob Falconer, 12 min

World premiere of a new short film by Rob Falconer – a moving tribute to artist, writer and long-term HIV/AIDS survivor George Hodson (1949-2023).

Regular Programme Strands

Family Film Club

This month, Barbican’s regular Saturday morning for film fans under 18 includes an introduction from film critic Wendy Ide to Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach’s Chicken for Linda, and a programme of experimental shorts programmed for young people, created in partnership with Open City Documentary Festival, preceded by a free workshop in the Beech Street cinema café. 

Luca (U)
USA 2021, Dir Enrico Casarosa, 95 min 
Sat 6 Apr, 11am
Cinema 2 

This is a rare chance to see this beautiful film, set on the Italian Riveria, about a young sea creature who turns into a boy when on land, and what happens when he ends up in a small coastal town. This animation has previously only been available on streaming services, so this is a new opportunity to experience this warm-hearted story on a big screen.  

Wonka (PG) - captioned
UK 2023. Dir Paul King, 112min

Sat 13 Apr, 11am
Cinema 2 

Based on the extraordinary character at the centre of Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryWonka tells the wondrous story of how the world's greatest inventor, magician and chocolate-maker became the beloved Willy Wonka we know today. With a star-studded cast including Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, and Matt Lucas.

Chicken For Linda! (PG*) + Intro from Wendy Ide
France 2023, Dirs Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach, 75 min
Sat 25 Apr, 11am
Cinema 2 

This is a joyous romp which follows single mother Paulette, who realises she has unfairly punished her daughter Linda. To make up for it, she promises to cook her a chicken with peppers. But where to find a chicken on a strike day, when all the shops are closed? This film, unreleased in the UK, will be introduced by the Observer’s chief film critic, Wendy Ide, who will talk about her job and what it entails. 

Listen with your eyes: Experimental films for Families (U*) in Partnership with Open City Documentary Festival
Dir various – full programme online

Sat 27 Apr, 11am
Cinema 3 

+ Free workshop 10am 

In partnership with Open City Documentary Festival this unique shorts programme includes experimental films on celluloid and hand-drawn animations, made by some of the most celebrated film artists. This interactive and lively screening event aims to encourage young children, toddlers (and their grown-ups) to engage with innovative content, not often seen in the cinema.

Silent Film & Live Music: Nosferatu accompanied by organist Sebastian Heindl

ECHO Rising Stars

Germany 1922, Dir F. W. Murnau, 91 min, PG
Tue 16 Apr, 8.30pm 
Cinema 1 

A German expressionist classic, F W Murnau’s Nosferatu is the earliest surviving adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Despite attempts to have it destroyed due to copyright infringement, the film became a landmark of the genre. If the ghastly Count and his creeping shadow weren’t enough to make spines tingle, Sebastien Heindl dials up the suspense with an entirely original, improvised soundtrack for organ.

Nominated as an ECHO Rising Star, Heindl, known for his transcriptions, improvisations, and a unique blend of modern jazz and classical elements, has received international acclaim. Winner of the 2019 Longwood Gardens Organ Competition, Heindl's musical journey began as a chorister in St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig, cultivating a deep connection to Johann Sebastian Bach's music. Trained at Leipzig Conservatory, Heindl has become a celebrated organist, performing on prestigious stages around the world and, as of 2022, holds the role of head of church music at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial-Church Berlin.’ The ECHO Rising Stars series, active since 1995, plays a pivotal role in shaping the careers of artists, with alumni including the likes of violinist Janine Jansen, and pianists Igor Levit and Khatia Buniatishvili. 

Cinema Restored x Open City Documentary Festival: Nicolás Guillén Landrián
Mon 29 Apr, 7pm & 8.20pm
Cinema 2 

This Cinema Restored programme, part of Open City Documentary Festival, looks at the pioneering work of the late Afro-Cuban filmmaker, painter and poet Nicolás Guillén Landrián, who died in 2003. Two programmes, both introduced by the curator Jonathan Ali, showcase the breadth of Landrián’s distinctive style and his thematic concerns. 

Restored Shorts of Nicolás Guillén Landrián includes four works, En un barrio Viejo (1963), Ociel del Toa (1965), Los del baile (1965) and Coffea Arábiga (1968).

Landrián (2023) directed by Ernesto Daranas Serrano, highlights the dark truths surrounding censorship. With Landrián's film negatives on the brink of oblivion in 2019, Ernesto Daranas Serrano, embarked on a mission to restore these neglected treasures and crafted a documentary shedding light on Landrián's visionary films and the injustices he endured.

The nephew of Nicolás Guillén, Cuba’s national poet, Landrián worked at the Cuban National Film Institute (ICAIC) from the early 1960s to the early 1970s, making short newsreels and documentaries. A gifted director with an uncommon creative sensibility, Landrián was committed to a highly personal cinematic vision, which included an unapologetic focus on Afro-Cuban life and culture. This vision frequently put Landrián at odds with the Cuban state and the principles of the Revolution. His films were censored and eventually suppressed, and Landrián was sent to prison camps where he was subjected to psychiatric treatment. In 1989 Landrián went into exile in the United States, where he died in 2003. 

Relaxed Screenings

Relaxed screenings take place in an environment that is specially tailored for a neurodiverse audience, as well as those who find a more informal setting beneficial.

Pay What You Can Screenings
Every Friday one of the new release film screenings is priced Pay What You Can
This is for customers where ticket price may be a barrier, or for those who want to help others enjoy a visit to the cinema; audience members are invited to pay between £3-£15. 

Senior Community Screenings 

Every second Mon, 11am, Cinema 2

The Barbican welcomes 60+ cinema goers, plus guest to enjoy the latest new releases every second Monday morning.

Event Cinema

Royal Opera House Live: Macmillan Triple (12A)

Sun 14 Apr, 2pm
Cinema 3 
The Royal Ballet celebrates the breadth of Principal Choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s one-act ballets.

MET Opera Live: La Rondine (12A)

Sat 20 Apr, 5.55pm
Cinema 1 
Puccini’s bittersweet love story makes a rare MET appearance, with soprano Angel Blue opposite tenor Jonathan Tetelman.

NT Live: NYE

Tue 23 Apr, 7pm

Cinema 1
Michael Sheen plays Nye Bevan in a surreal and spectacular journey through the life and legacy of the man who transformed Britain’s welfare state and created the NHS.

Royal Opera House Live: Swan Lake (12A)
Sun 28 Apr, 2pm
Cinema 3 
Tchaikovsky’s sensational score combines with the evocative imagination of choreographer Liam Scarlett and designer John Macfarlane to heighten the dramatic pathos of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s quintessential ballet classic.