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Barbican Cinema December 2023

International Films for the Curious Minded

This December there’s much for curious minded film fans to enjoy at the Barbican with a diverse programme of international cinema. This includes a ScreenTalk preview of the highly anticipated French film Orlando, My Political Biography, with director Paul B. Preciado in conversation with Erika Balsom; a rare presentation – as part of the regular Cinema Restored strand – of the 1976 love story from Suriname, Wan Pipel, plus ScreenTalk with curator Jonathan Ali and documentary filmmaker Ananta Khemradj; and a free, Christmas special Senior Communities screening of The Sapphires, a musical comedy from Australia starring Chris O’Dowd and Deborah Mailman.

As Christmas approaches, cinema goers can get festive with a screening of the Royal Opera House Live: The Nutcracker, an enchanting ballet which remains a perennial winter favourite.

Further highlights include the second instalment of the London International Animation Festival and Adrian Wootton Presents… Sergio Leone & Once Upon a Time in the West, in a 4K restoration, a movie exploring the legacy of the filmmaker Sérgio Leone and the making of Once Upon A Time In the West.

  • London International Animation Festival – Sat 2 Dec & Sun 3 Dec
  • Orlando, My Political Biography + ScreenTalk with Paul B. Preciado and Erika Balsom – Tue 12 Dec

Regular Programme strands

  • Adrian Wootton Presents… Sergio Leone & Once Upon a Time in the West
  • (4K restoration) – Sun 10 Dec
  • Cinema Restored: Wan Pipel + ScreenTalk with curator Jonathan Ali and Ananta Khemradj – Mon 11 Dec
  • Family Film Club – every Sat morning
  • Relaxed Screenings – one Fri daytime and one Mon evening
  • Senior Community Screenings: The SapphiresMon 11 Dec
  • Pay What You Can Screenings – every Friday

Event Cinema

  • MET Opera Live: Florencia en el Amazonas – Sat 9 Dec
  • NT Encore: The Book of Dust – Sat 16 Dec
  • Royal Opera House Live: The Nutcracker – Sun 17 Dec

Festivals, Seasons and Special Events
London International Animation Festival (LIAF)
Sat 2 Dec - Sun 3 Dec
Cinemas 1 & 2

The UK’s largest animation festival continues:

LIAF 2023: Family Film Club: Amazing Animations for 0-7 year-olds (U*)
Sat 2 Dec, 11am (approx. 70min)

Cinema 2
This carefully chosen programme for our youngest audience contains 14 short-animated films. There’ll be talking animals, fun adventures, and wondrous tales to spark little imaginations. Adults must be accompanied by a child, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

LIAF 2023: Closing Night Gala – The Best of the Fest (15*)
Sun 3 Dec, 5.15pm (approx. 120min)
Cinema 1
The last chance to see this year’s LIAF ‘must-see films’ before the curtain comes down on another Festival, selected by several panels of industry experts and audience votes.

LIAF 2023: Encore: The Best of the Fest (15*)

Sun 3 Dec, 8.15pm
Cinema 2

An Encore screening of the LIAF 2023 Closing Night Gala, with the best selection from this year's festival.

For further information visit:

Preview: Orlando, My Political Biography + ScreenTalk with Paul B. Preciado, hosted by Erika Balsom

France 2023, Dir Paul B. Preciado, 98 min

Tue 12 Dec, 6.10pm

Cinema 1

In partnership with Fitzcarraldo Editions, Barbian Cinema presents a preview of Orlando, My Political Biography. This is a reimagining of Virginia Woolf’s famed Orlando, which centres around a young man who grows up to become a 36-year-old woman.

In his response to Virginia Woolf’s text, writer Paul B. Preciado reflects on how her fictional character, Orlando, has transcended the pages of literature to become a tangible reality. Preciado explores the transformation of Orlando's body as a symbol that resonates with diverse non-binary individuals worldwide. Through the genuine voices of young people undergoing similar journeys, Preciado narrates his own personal transformation in a poetic odyssey where life, literature, theory, and imagery blend seamlessly in the pursuit of truth. He emphasizes that every individual like Orlando, who identifies as transgender, faces daily challenges navigating societal norms, legal systems, historical contexts, psychiatric perspectives, familial expectations, and the influence of powerful pharmaceutical corporations.

Paul B. Preciado is the author of Counter-Sexual Manifesto (Columbia University Press), and Pornotopia (Zone Books), for which he was awarded the Sade Prize in France. He is currently Curator of Public Programmes at the Palais de Tokyo.

Regular Programme Strands

Adrian Wootton Presents… Sergio Leone & Once Upon a Time in the West (15)
(4k restoration)
USA 1969, Dir Sergio Leone, 166 min
Sun 10 Dec, 1.50pm
Cinema 1
Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London explores the legacy of Italian film director Sérgio Leone. With Once Upon a Time in The West, Sérgio Leone built on his ‘three dollar Spaghetti Western’ titles, cemented his reputation as one of the great Italian filmmakers, and made a timeless classic in the process; shown here in a new digital restoration.

A mysterious stranger with a harmonica joins forces with a desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad, in this beautifully shot 60s western. There’s also a breath-taking score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone and powerful performances by Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson and Claudia Cardinale.

Cinema Restored: Wan Pipel (15*) + ScreenTalk with Jonathan Ali and Ananta Khemradj
Suriname 1976, Dir Pim de la Parra, 111 min

Mon 11 Dec, 6.15pm
Cinema 2
A young couple in Suriname are tested by the expectations of society and traditions in this timeless 1976 love story. Wan Pipel is a compelling drama set in the vibrant backdrop of Suriname. The story follows the lives of Roy, a young man studying in the Netherlands, and Rubia, a Surinamese woman struggling with societal expectations. Roy returns to his homeland to reconnect with his cultural roots but is faced with the challenges of adapting to a world he left behind. As he becomes entangled in a passionate affair with Rubia, their love is put to the test by cultural differences and the weight of tradition.

Directed by Pim de la Parra, this film beautifully captures the clash between modernity and tradition, personal desires, and societal norms. Wan Pipel is a timeless exploration of love, identity, and the universal struggle people have in finding their place in the world.

Family Film Club  
Every Sat, 11am

Cinema 2
The best in new releases, international gems, archive classics and specially curated programmes for families every Saturday morning.

Family Film Club takes a short break after the 2 Dec screening and will resume on Saturday 20 Jan 2024.

Please check for more details.

Relaxed Screenings
One Friday daytime and one Monday evening per month Barbican Cinema welcome cinema
goers to an environment that is specially tailored for a neurodiverse audience.

Senior Community Screening: The Sapphires (PG)
Australia 2012, Dir Wayne Blair, 103 min
Mon 11 Dec, 11am
Cinema 2
A free end of year Senior Community Screening of The Sapphires, a musical comedy set in 1960’s regional Australia, where Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and Kay (Shari Sebbens) leave their Aboriginal community to seek stardom by entertaining US troops in Vietnam.

With the support of their chaotic manager Dave (Chris O’Dowd), the five embark on a transformative and emotional journey to realise their dreams.
Based on a true story and subsequent stage play by Tony Briggs, The Sapphires is irresistibly charming, filled with soul and has electric performances from its leading stars Chris O’Dowd and Deborah Mailman. Post screening there will be free tea, coffee and festive treats for all to share.

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.   

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.

Event Cinema

MET Opera Live: Florencia en el Amazonas (12A)

Sat 9 Dec, 5.55pm

Cinema 1
Sung in Spanish and inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, Mexican

composer Daniel Catán’s 1996 opera focuses on an opera diva, Florencia Grimaldi. Florencia Grimaldi returns to her native Brazil to perform and to search for her lost lover, who has vanished into the jungle.

NT Encore: The Book of Dust LIVE (12A)

Sat 16 Dec, 2.30pm

Cinema 2
Set twelve years before the epic His Dark Materials trilogy, this gripping adaptation revisits Philip Pullman’s fantastical world in which waters are rising and storms are brewing. Broadcast live from London’s Bridge Theatre.

Royal Opera House: The Nutcracker LIVE (U*)

Sun 17 Dec, 2 pm

Cinema 1
Live on screen, an enchanting ballet which is a sparkling festive treat for the whole family. Join Clara at a delightful Christmas Eve party that becomes a magical adventure once everyone else is tucked up in bed. Peter Wright’s much-loved production for The Royal Ballet, with period designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, keeps true to the spirit of this festive ballet classic, combining the thrill of the fairy tale with spectacular classical dancing.