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Barbican Cinema highlights - October 2023

October’s cinema programme offers exclusive screenings of global cinema, bespoke programmes for children and families as well as exciting one-off events. Highlights include: Visions of Haiti, a season of films, poetry readings and discussions celebrating the beauty and complexity of Haiti; Family Film Week, a packed programme of films, workshops and events (over half-term week) for children; Doc’n Roll Film Festival, which returns with six compelling feature-length documentaries about alternative music and musicians; and Animations, an Oska Bright Film Festival screening, championing the work of learning disabled and autistic animators.

Festivals, Seasons and Special Events:


Regular Programme strands:

  • Family Film Club
  • New East Cinema: Safe Place + ScreenTalk
  • Relaxed Screenings
  • Senior Community Screenings
  • Pay What You Can Screenings

Event Cinema:

  • A Little Life
  • ROH Live: L’Elisir D’Amore
  • An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann
  • Met Opera Live: Dead Man Walking

Other special events this month include Lessons of the Hour and Screentalk with Sir Issac Julien, which celebrates the publishing of Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass and includes a screening of his 2019 film Lessons of the Hour, which looks at the life and work of Frederick Douglass, a visionary African American abolitionist, which will be accompanied by a ScreenTalk with the filmmaker.

There’s also plenty for families to enjoy at Barbican Cinema in October, as well as Family Film Week, there are also the regular Family Film Club events. Highlights this month include the silent film screening Lotte Reiniger's Fairy Tales, with live keyboard accompaniment from Lillian Henley.

Further cinematic highlights include a New East screening of the Croatian film Safe Place and ScreenTalk, about a traumatic event that causes a rift in a family’s everyday existence; and the Headway East  Film Programme: It Grew She Grew, curated by the artist Zara Joan Miller.

Festivals, Seasons and Special Events:

Visions of Haiti
18 – 31 Oct, Cinema 2 & 3

Visions of Haiti offers a rare chance to see films about the country and by the country’s filmmakers, presenting an authentic and multifaceted portrayal of this Caribbean nation.

The season covers some 70 years of material from the 1930s travelogues of Rudy Burckhard to award-winning contemporary Haitian born filmmakers Miryam Charles, Gessica Généus and Esery Mondesir.


A Fortress​/Une forteresse + White Zombie 
Wed Oct 18, 6.20pm, Cinema 3 

Outsider Lenses 

Thu Oct 19, 6.30pm, Cinema 2 

Haiti: The Way to Freedom / Ayiti men chimin libete 
Haiti 1975, Dir Arnold Antonin,120 min 

Fri 20 Oct, 6.20pm, Cinema 2

Haitian Corner 

Haiti/USA 1988, Dir Raoul Peck, 97 min 

Sun 22 Oct, 6.30pm, Cinema 3 

I’ll Be Back! + Freda  

Sat 28 Oct, 3:30pm, Cinema 2 

Cette Maison + poetry reading by poet and artist Esme Allman 
Canada 2022, Dir Miryam Charles, In Haitian and French with English subtitles, 75 min 

Sun 29 Oct, 6:30pm, Cinema 3 

Migratory Voyages: An evening of short films by Esery Mondesir

Tue 31 Oct, 6.30pm, Cinema 2

To view the full press release:

Family Film Week
21-28 Oct, Cinema 2

The Barbican’s Family Film Week returns for another edition, featuring the best new children’s films from around the world, new releases, special previews, activities, introductions and special events.

Highlights include a relaxed draw-along screening of Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse (USA 2023, Dirs Joaquim Dos, Justin K. Thompson) with children’s author-illustrator extraordinaire, Rikin Parekh; a special pre-release preview of Oink (Netherlands/ Belgium 2022, Dir Mascha Halberstad), a funny stop-motion feature about a village obsessed with their local sausage competition; and Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo (Canada/ France 2022, Dir André Kadi) a beautiful animation full of fantasy and music that follows 6 year old Dounia as she is forced to flee her home in Syria to make a perilous journey towards a new life.  

Full programme to be announced on Wed 20 Sep.

Doc’n Roll Film Festival

Thu 26 Oct – Sat 4 Nov, Cinema 1, 2 & 3

The tenth edition of Doc’n Roll London, the UK’s Music Documentary Festival, returns to the Barbican with six compelling feature-length documentaries about alternative music, musicians, and the worlds they inhabit.

Featuring one world, one UK and five international premieres, and several Q&As, the programme focuses on artists including Pete Doherty, Nicky Hopkins, The Zombies, Pauline Oliveros, Don Lewis and Miúcha.

Along the way, the films spotlight scenes as diverse as Indie, post-punk and bossa nova, classic rock and psychedelia, deep listening and funk-electronic fusion. These are stories of queer identity and possibility, rebellion and Black pride, moving accounts of trauma and catharsis, feminist defiance, and politicized art. 

For further info:

Lessons of the Hour (12) LC + Screentalk with Sir Issac Julien, book signing
and reception

UK 2019, Dir Isaac Julien
Thu 12 Oct, 6:30 Cinema 1, event runtime: 90 min

This event celebrates the publishing of Isaac Julien: Lessons of the Hour – Frederick Douglass by Isaac Julien, the 2023 Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award. The Barbican also presents the artist’s filmic reflection on Frederick Douglass, Lessons of the Hour (2019) followed by a ScreenTalk with Sir Issac Julien, before a book signing and reception.

In both his film and his recent publication, Sir Issac Julien has explored the life of Frederick Douglass, a visionary African American writer, abolitionist, and a man who transcended his era. Lessons of the Hour (2019) is a poetic exploration of Douglass' life and legacy, inviting  the viewer to contemplate his essence and its enduring connection to the contemporary world. Joining Sir Issac Julien will be several contributors to his publication, to further reflect on and explore the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass.
Organised in collaboration with the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation.

Headway East Film Programme: It Grew She Grew (15 LC)

Mon 2 Oct, 6.30 pm, Cinema 2

Event runtime: 60 minutes.

Curated by artist Zara Joan Miller, this evening explores several approaches by artists thinking through non-conforming bodies and their radical potentials.

The programme brings together several works by Miller, into a conversation with material made by other artists, resulting in a layered interaction between filmmakers seeking new ways to frame the rhythms of the body. The evening begins with a live performance by Miller, before branching out to incorporate Anne McGuire’s powerful reflection on her own body and its changes after a live threatening experience and includes new work by American artist Melissa Friedling, who playfully engages with ideas of human fertility through a series of visual puns and reflections on twinning.

Oska Bright Film Festival: Animations (15)

Mon 30 Oct, Cinema 3

Oska Bright's Animation strand is back and better than ever, with a range of styles and themes.

Watch out for a killer mattress, unexplained sinkholes and a dog looking for love.

The world’s leading learning disabled film festival returns to the Barbican with a screening celebrating the talents of learning disabled and autistic animators.

Regular Programme Strands

Family Film Club

Lotte Reiniger's Fairy Tales (PG) + live keyboard accompaniment from
Lillian Henley
Germany 1922-1961, approx. 70min
Sat 7 Oct, 11 am, Cinema 2

Family Film Club begins in October with a special event featuring a selection Lotte Reiniger’s silhouette fairy tales accompanied live by the pianist Lillian Henley. In between the films, Lillian will give an insight into what she does as a silent film musician and how she helps the audience follow the stories on screen.

Further Family Film Club programme will be confirmed closer to the time, please check for up to date details.


New East Cinema: Safe Place (15*) + ScreenTalk

Croatia 2022, Dir Juraj Lerotić, 104 min 

Wed 25 Oct, 6.15 pm, Cinema 2

Set over 24 hours, Safe Place explores themes of mental health and family in Croatia.

Bruno, played by director Juraj Lerotić, breaks into his brother Damir’s (Goran Marković) apartment in a rush to save his life after a suicide attempt. The subtlety and alarming quiet of this first opening scene sets the tone, which unfolds as a psychological family drama.

Principally, Safe Place is an autobiographical confession, which becomes clear in a stand-out dialogue scene that evokes magic realism. Subtlety and heartbreak define this award-winning directorial debut, awarded Best First Feature and Best Emerging Director prizes at the Locarno Film Festival, and for which Goran Marković took the Best Actor award.

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 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

A Little Life
Sun 1 Oct, 1.50pm, Cinema 3

Filmed live at the Savoy Theatre, London, this beautifully performed production is an adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara's acclaimed novel, directed by Ivo Van Hove, starring James Norton and Luke Thompson.

ROH Live: L’Elisir D’Amore

Sat 8 Oct, 2pm Cinema 3

There is sun, fun and vocal acrobatics aplenty in Laurent Pelly’s much-loved staging of Donizetti’s intoxicating and witty comedy.

An Evening with Jonas Kaufmann (12A)
Sun 15 Oct, 2pm, Cinema 3

Regarded as one of the world’s greatest tenors, Jonas Kaufmann has captivated audiences across the globe with his voice. This is the chance to see the renowned tenor perform live from a 30AD Roman amphitheatre in Verona.

Met Opera Live: Dead Man Walking
Sat 21 Oct, 5.55pm, Cinema 1

Based on Sister Helen Prejean’s memoir about her fight for the soul of a condemned murderer, Jake Heggie’s powerful work has its highly anticipated Met premiere in a new production by Ivo van Hove.