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Barbican Cinema July 2024

 Special Events:

  • Blink of an Eye: Beijing’s Urbanisation on Film + ScreenTalk – Wed 10 Jul
  • Accelerate or Die + ScreenTalk with Jake Chapman and Dr Isabel Millar, hosted by Elfie Reigate – Wed 17 Jul
  • Stewart Home's Occasional Barbican Film Club: City of Lost Souls & Romeo & Julio with introduction by Stewart Home – 31 Jul    

Regular Programme strands:

  • Cinema Restored: Xiao Wu (Pickpocket) + ScreenTalk with Morgan Quaintance and Xiaolu Guo – Wed 3 Jul
  • New East Cinema: 1489 + ScreenTalk – Thu 25 Jul
  • Senior Community Screenings: Perfect DaysMon 8 July + Banel & AdamaTue 22 Jul
  • Relaxed Screenings: Robot Dreams Mon 15 Jul + ChallengersFri 26 Jul
  • Pay What You Can Screenings – every Fri

Event Cinema:

  • blur: To the End – Fri 19 Jul

The Barbican continues to showcase the best in world cinema in July, with a rare screening of the Chinese film Xiao Wu (Pickpocket), Jia Zhangke’s debut feature, which is a realist drama focusing on the shifting politics and attitudes in the country at the cusp of the twentieth century.

Also from China is the shorts programme Blink of an Eye: Beijing’s Urbanisation on Film, a selection of documentary and experimental films that trace urban construction and development in Beijing and its surrounding areas across five decades.

Stewart Home's Occasional Barbican Film Club, pairs two very different examples of queer underground European cinema; from West Germany the punk musical City of Lost Souls, and from Croatia the break-dance trash musical comedy Romeo & Julio.

New East Cinema presents the Armenian film 1489; shot exclusively on her mobile phone, Shoghakat Vardanyan’s emotional documentary is an intensely personal portrait of a family coping with the disappearance of a brother and son during the 2020 Artsakh war.

Further July highlights include the documentary Accelerate or Die, in which the Chapman Brothers' Jake Chapman - one of Britain’s most provocative artists - invites viewers to explore the collapse of modernity and the possible ride to extinction through a thrilling visual assault of art, generative AI and thought-provoking perspectives.

Relaxed Screenings this month include Spanish-French animation Robot Dreams and the love triangle tennis drama Challengers; and Senior Community Screenings include Perfect Days and Banel & Adama.


Special Events
Blink of an Eye: Beijing’s Urbanisation on Film

Wed 10 Jul, 6.15pm
Cinema 2

Beijing has faced the Chinese government’s demands for modernisation and development over the decades. What has the rapid urbanization over the past 50 years meant for the lives of its people? Has this vision of the city, which is supposed to serve its residents, instead threatened their living spaces?

Curated by Chongjin Gan and Yutong Yu the programme includes films which immerse us in years of social collective memory from Beijing residents, a document of the last moments of an artist village, a split screen depiction of the city’s central axis and an experimental art video set in the newly constructed Beijing satellite city (Xiong'an New Area).


China 2012, Dir Lei Lei &Thomas Sauvin, 6 min, no dialogue.
These images were sourced over the years from a recycling zone in the outskirts of Beijing. This archive of more than half a million 35mm colour film negatives is a photographic portrait of the capital and the life of its inhabitants over the last 30 years.

Artists of Yuanmingyuan
China 1995, Dir Hu Jie, 40 min, in Mandarin with English subtitles
Over the course of a few years (1989-95), a group of young artists moved to the west suburbs of Beijing, seeking creative freedom among the lakes, woods, and Winter Palace ruins. This film tells their story.

Up Down
China 2007, Dir Wang Wo, 12min, in Mandarin with English subtitles.

Up Down is about a street and a square in the centre of China. On the ground is Changan Road, the centre of politics, finance and entertainment, and underground lies Subway Line 1, the main artery of transportation. Where there's an up, there's a down.


China 2020, Dir Sponge Gourd Collective (Diane Zhou, Beatrix Chu, Daphne Xu), 17 min, in Mandarin with English subtitles

In Xiongan, forests are sprouting on empty corn fields, and the burial mounds they once housed have been flattened, replaced by temporary columbarium (a structure designed to hold cremation urns). Shunqiziran depicts a spirit world in Xiongan, where local and non-professional actors in green screen suits roam.


Accelerate or Die (12*) + ScreenTalk with Jake Chapman and Dr Isabel Millar, hosted by Elfie Reigate

UK, 2023, Dir Mike Christie, 60min

Wed 17 Jul, 6.15pm
Cinema 2

One of Britain’s most provocative artists Jake Chapman of the Chapman Brothers responds to the question: ‘Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of Capitalism?’

The answer may lie in ‘Accelerationism.’ Capitalism, it claims, is breaking down our society, our humanity, and our planet. Accelerationists assert that the only way forward is not to struggle against runaway technological advancement and the cultural and political fragmentation that accompanies it, but to embrace it and ride it even harder, regardless of where it takes humanity.

This dynamic, distinctive film focuses on the meeting point of technology, Capitalism and the climate crisis. Featuring the likes of Jeanette Winterson and Will Self, Jake engages with a rich mix of writers, philosophers and cutting-edge thinkers. As he reimagines documentary, Jake invites the audience to enjoy the ride in a thrilling visual assault of art, generative AI and fresh, thought-provoking perspectives.


Stewart Home's Occasional Barbican Film Club:
City of Lost Souls & Romeo & Julio (15*) + Introduction by Stewart Home

West Germany 1983, Dir Rosa von Praunheim, 94 min
Croatia 2009, Dir Ivan Peric, 65 min
Wed 31 Jul, 7pm
Cinema 3

Stewart Home’s Occasional Barbican Film Club takes as its starting point Shakespeare Tower (on the Barbican Estate) and arrives at two very different examples of queer underground European cinema.

Shakespeare wrote ‘All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.’ The intersectional queer-punk musical City of Lost Souls (1983) improves on that by deconstructing its gender binaries. The performers – except for Jayne County who plays a cis woman – act out thinly fictionalised versions of themselves as American exiles in Berlin. Long recognised as a queer cult classic, between the cabaret songs and outrageous post-punk performances, director Rosa von Praunheim captures many intimate and touching moments of love and rejection.

Ivan Peric's Romeo & Julio (2009) is a Croatian queer break-dance trash musical comedy/parody based on Romeo & Juliet. Even the climatic fight scene between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon (1972) is queered and worked into this infamous film.


Regular Programme Strands

Cinema Restored: Xiao Wu (Pickpocket) (12*) + ScreenTalk with Morgan Quaintance and Xiaolu Guo
China 1997, Dir Jia Zhangke, 108 mins

Wed 3 Jul, 7pm
Cinema 2

The film focuses on life in Fenyang, a rural town which the director hails from, and chooses as its central figure, Xiao Wu, an aimless wanderer, whose profession, gives the film its English title, and connects to Bresson’s classic of the same name. 

Much of the film centres around the idea of change, as the central figure, watches the large scale societal shifts China had embarked on, effect the small sleepy town he hails from. 

Made largely from non-actors with a miniscule budget, Xiao Wu seen today serves as an introduction to arguably one of the most important filmmakers of his generation.

New East Cinema: 1489 (18) + ScreenTalk
Armenia, 2023, Dir Shoghkat Vardanyan, 76 mins
Thu 25 Jul, 6.20pm

Cinema 2

When a young Armenian soldier disappears at the start of the Nagorno-Karabakh war, his sister sets on filming their family as they navigate between hope and grief.

Filming completely observationally with a phone given to her by her university teacher, Shoghakat Vardanyan carves a surprisingly cinematic and raw portrait of her family during the months spent in limbo. As urgent as it is heartbreaking, 1489 is a reminder of the brutal reality of war and the very real human destinies behind the numbers quoted in headlines.

1489 won the IDFA award for Best Feature Length documentary in 2023, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize. This screening is presented in collaboration with the Golden Apricot Film Festival in Yerevan. 

Senior Community Screenings
Welcoming 60+ cinema goers to watch the latest new releases every other Monday morning:

Perfect Days (PG)
Japan/Germany 2023, Dir Wim Wenders, 125min
Mon 8 Jul, 11am
Cinema 2  

Kôji Yakusho teaches the art of appreciating the everyday in this meditative drama from Wim Wenders. The film is a serene character study which centres on a beautiful performance from Yakusho, who was the recipient of the Best Actor award at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. With delicate direction from Wenders (Paris, TexasWings of Desire).

Banel & Adama (12A)
France/Senegal/Mali & Qatar 2023, Dir Ramata-Toulaye Sy, 87 min

Mon 22 Jul, 11am
Cinema 2

A young couple living in remote Senegal, whose star-crossed love is in conflict with family tradition, face a new challenge as drought hits their village. Award-winning filmmaker Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s breathtaking debut feature premiered in Competition at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

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:

Robot Dreams (PG) 
France/Spain 2023, Dir Pablo Berger, 102 min
Mon 15 Jul, 6.15pm
Cinema 3

Robot Dreams is a 2023 Spanish-French animated tragicomedy in which a dog and a robot romp around New York in the 1980s. Premiering at Cannes in 2024, the film won Best Film in the Contrechamp section of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. 


Challengers (15)
USA 2024, Dir Luca Guadagnino 131 min
Fri 26 Jul, 12pm

Cinema 3

Tension builds on the courts in Luca Guadagnino's tennis menage-a-trois between Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist. The film spans the careers of Zendaya and her two male counterparts, as they compete on the courts and in courting, both wanting the same girl.


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

blur: To the End
Fri 19 Jul, 8.30pm
Cinema 1

Depicting the extraordinary and emotional return of blur, captured during the year in which they made a surprise return with their first record in 8 years, the number 1 album ‘The Ballad of Darren’.

blur: To The End follows the unique relationship of four friends - and band mates of three decades - Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree as they come together to record new songs ahead of their sold-out, first ever shows at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2023.