Saved events

Press room

Barbican Cinema - May highlights 2023

Barbican Cinema May 2023

       Festivals, Seasons and Special Events

     Regular Programme strands

  • Cinema Restored: Non-Aligned Film Archives presents Unknown Suriname / Dja Dja Srnaam + ScreenTalk with Luna Hupperetz
  • Experiments in Film: Je rest photographe + ScreenTalk with  filmmaker Ananias Léki Dago, Director Autograph ABP Mark Sealy and photographer Eileen Perrier
  • Science on Screen: War of The Worlds + Presentation by Philip Ball
  • Experiments in Film: The Gift + Discussion with Jasmina Cibic, Owen Hatherley & Lucy Reynolds + Reception
  • Architecture on Film: Reichautobahn
  • Family Film Club
  • Senior Community Screening: Encore: One Hand Don’t Clap
  • Relaxed Screenings
  • Pay What You Can Screenings

     Event Cinema

  • NT Live: Best of Enemies
  • Met Opera: Don Giovanni
  • ROH Live: The Sleeping Beauty

The Barbican continues to champion international cinema in May, including Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close, a season of films that offer a rare insight into the flourishing film culture in the Caribbean; and the Syrian Arts and Culture Festival 2023, with a programme of three films that focus on the theme of encounters and transformative moments.

Architecture on Film this month screens Hartmut Bitomsky's essay film Reichsautobahn, which critically explores the reality, symbolism, myth and legacy of Germany's "biggest edifice”: 3,870km of Nazi-built autobahn.

Cinema Restored and Experiments in Film, present three programmes this month: Non-Aligned Film Archives present: Unknown Suriname/ Dja Dja Srnaam is
a series of three short films centred around the 1978 documentary Women of Suriname (Oema foe Sranan) directed by At Van Praag, recently restored by Non-Aligned Film Archives in collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival.

Je reste photographe offers a portrait of the renowned Ivorian photographer Paul Kodjo; and The Gift explores the concept of a ‘political gift’; a donation of artistic, architectural, or political thought to a nation and the development of European identity.

Science on Screen presents Stephen Spielberg’s adaptation of War of The Worlds followed by a presentation by author Philip Ball.

Further May highlights also include Eurovision: The Grand Final Live, Saturday morning Family Film Club screenings; and a Senior Community Screening - part of Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close - Kavery Kaul’s electric documentary One Hand Don’t Clap, which traces the history of calypso and soca music through interviews and performance archive with Lord Kitchener and Calypso Rose.

Festivals, Seasons and Special Events

Eurovision: The Grand Final Live 2023

Sat 13 May, 7.30 pm, Cinema 1

For the first time the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final will be broadcast live into the Barbican Cinema, allowing fans to come together and share the experience of celebrating the biggest music party of the year on the big screen.

Hosted this year in Liverpool by the BBC on behalf of Ukraine to a global audience of more than 160 million, the 67th Eurovision Grand Final will take place on Sat 13 May. Fans will be able to take to their seats to view a special preview of BBC Three’s new show I Kissed a Boy, presented by Dannii Minogue, which screens before the Final takes place from 8pm.

To get into the full Eurovision swing, Cinema 1 Bar will be serving a curated selection of European beers and a one-night-only Eurovision cocktail.

Syrian Arts and Culture Festival 2023
Sun 14 – Fri 19 May, Cinema 2

In Fields of Words: Conversations with Samar Yazbek
Lebanon 2022, Dir Rania Stephan, 70 min

Sun 14 May, 4pm, Cinema 2

This film-conversation between author, Samar Yazbek, and filmmaker, Rania Stephan, questions the relationship between language and cinema as tools to represent realities of war and violence. Ten years in the making, the film unfolds through vignettes and dialogue, and the result is a poignant and timeless reflection on violence and representation, as well as our capacity to listen, interpret and understand.  

The Stranger (Al Garib)
Syria/Germany/Palestine/Qatar 2018, Dir Ameer Fakher Eldeen, 112 min
Tue 16 May, 6.15pm, Cinema 2

In a village in the Golan Heights, Adnan, an unlicensed doctor, is experiencing an existential crisis. Weighed down by life between Israeli occupation, his life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a wounded man near the checkpoint. Going against community expectations in times of war and crisis, he ventures to meet his newly found destiny. Known to be the first fiction film shot in Syria's Golan, heavy silence and a misty landscape push the narrative to its emotional heights.

Purple Sea
Germany 2020, Dirs Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed, 67 min
Fri 19 May, 6.15pm, Cinema 2

Escaping war in Syria, artist Amel Alzakout and 300 others were forced to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a smugglers boat. Half-way to reaching the coast of Lesbos, the boat sank. Her waterproof camera, strapped to her wrist, intended to document the journey, recorded an atrocity. Muffled images, saturated by the sun tell a story of emergency. Floating between borders with no welcome, forty-two people lost their lives in this tragedy.

Please see for further information about the festival.

Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close
17–31 May, Cinema 2

Exploring individual and shared cultural identities, Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close begins with a Special Preview of the new restoration of Kavery Kaul’s One Hand Don’t Clap, which explores the importance of calypso and soca music and the community around it and will be followed by a ScreenTalk (via Zoom) with the director.  

The season continues with Currents a programme of seven shorts by Caribbean filmmakers which explore universal themes of familial and self-acceptance, overcoming adversity, justice and pride from a uniquely Caribbean perspective.

Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close closes with writer/director José María Cabral’s Parsley based on the real story of the Parsley Massacre, a mass killing of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic's north-western frontier in October 1937. Parsley tells the story of a heavily pregnant Haitian woman left alone in the wilderness near the Dominican border, trying to escape the attack.

Snapshots: Caribbean Cinema Up Close has been programmed by Patrice Robinson, a graduate of the Independent Cinema Office’s
FEDS Scheme and a member of Barbican Cinema Team, and developed in association with trinidad+tobago film festival.

See the press room for full press release

Regular Programme strands:

Cinema Restored

Non-Aligned Film Archives present: Unknown Suriname / Dja Dja Srnaam + Q&A with researcher and filmmaker Luna Hupperetz, and actress, singer and former member of LOSON Nadia Tilon, moderated by Annabelle Aventurin

Netherlands 1978, Dir At van Praag, 58 min
Wed 3 May, 6.15pm, Cinema 3

A programme of three short films centred around the 1978 documentary Women of Suriname (Oema foe Sranan) directed by At Van Praag and recently restored by Non-Aligned Film Archives in collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival.

Produced by the activist film collective Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms and LOSON (The National Organisation of Surinamese Organisations in the Netherlands).

A Battle Restored (Strijd op)

Netherlands 2022, 17 min
Following the restoration of the Women of Suriname, A Battle Restored explores the stories of activism and struggle that enabled the production and distribution of this militant documentary.

In The Sky’s Wild Noise 

Guyana 1983, Victor Jara’s Collective, 29 min
The second and final film by The Victor Jara Collective, In the Sky’s Wild Noise features the late historian and activist Walter Rodney. A self-styled “guerrilla intellectual” whose thinking influenced the black power movements in the US and the Caribbean, Rodney was assassinated by a car bomb in Guyana in 1980.

Women of Suriname (Oema foe Sranan) 

Netherlands & Suriname 1978, Dir At Van Praag

Women of Suriname is a documentary by the activist film collective Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms and LOSON. The film follows four women who, through their personal stories, reveal a history of neo-colonialism, imperialism and discrimination in Suriname and the Netherlands. It was rediscovered in 2019 during an archival research project of the 16mm film distribution collection of Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms,

Non-Aligned Film Archives is an ongoing project curated by archivists Léa Morin and Annabelle Aventurin in collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival.

Experiments in Film
Je reste photographe (12A*) + ScreenTalk with filmmaker Ananias Léki Dago, Director Autograph ABP Mark Sealy and photographer Eileen Perrier

Ivory Coast – Ghana - France 2022, Dir Ananias Léki Dago, 67 min
Thu 4 May, 6.30pm, Cinema 2

Ananias Léki Dago’s portrait of the late Ivorian photographer Paul Kodjo is an intergenerational dialogue reflecting on communication and the dissemination of the work of art.

Dago inherits a trunk that contains the work of a lifetime, that of Paul Kodjo, the most significant photographer of the time of the newly independent Côte d'Ivoire. It is the beginning of an exciting story that will link the lives of these two people who have in common not only a love for photography but also the fragility of an artist's life. 

Je reste photographe follows Dago through his encounters and his travels as he throws himself body and soul into a long work of research, reconditioning and conservation of the negatives of Paul Kodjo and thus lifts the veil on the tumultuous journey of this last.

In partnership with Autograph ABP

Science on Screen
War of The Worlds (12A) + Presentation by Philip Ball

US 2005, Dir Stephen Spielberg, 116 min

Tue 9 May, 6.10pm, Cinema 2 

Science on Screen presents Stephen Spielberg’s epic reworking of H.G. Wells’ classic novel War of The Worlds (US, 2005). This will be followed by a presentation in which Philip Ball (author of The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Sciencecompares the evolving scientific understanding of the likelihood of alien life forms, with the public perception of aliens.

Experiments in Film

The Gift (15) + Discussion with Jasmina Cibic, Owen Hatherley & Lucy Reynolds + Reception
UK & Austria 2021, Dir Jasmina Cibic, full event running time 90min

Thu 11 May, 6.30pm, Cinema 2

In her most recent film, artist Jasmina Cibic seeks to explore the relationship between political gifting of culture and the development of European identity.

The film moves between several iconic buildings each conceived as a gift and renders these into a stage set for a dystopian drama addressing culture’s role as a Trojan horse for political interest. Cibic's film features Oscar Niemeyer’s French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, the Palais of the Nations in Geneva and the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.

The event will explore the film's central themes, with a discussion between Jasmina Cibic, writer and journalist Owen Hatherley and researcher, curator and artist Lucy Reynolds. In addition, there will also be a specially commissioned, limited-edition gift from the artist alongside an essay by Vid Simoniti, as a response to the film. Following the event all audience members are invited to an informal reception in the cinema lobby to celebrate the new book in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art MAC Lyon and Film London.

Architecture on Film
Reichsautobahn (U*)

Federal Republic of Germany 1984, Dir Hartmut Bitomsky, 91 min
Tue 23 May, 6.45pm, Cinema 1

Initiated in 1933 as an agent of employment and national unification, a “cultural monument” to modernity, purpose and progress, the socio-political Autobahn project needed selling to a population for whom its infrastructure was so new as to be alien.

Far from a conventional chronology, in Reichsautobahn ‘one picture answers another’, as Bitomsky choreographs the multitude of Third Reich produced films, propaganda and cultural artefacts, alongside interviews and a fiercely probing voiceover, to reveal the complexities, imaginaries, and contradictions, of a project of social as much as industrial engineering.

Curated by the Architecture Foundation

Family Film Club

The Lion King (U)

US 1994, Dir Rob Minkoff & Roger Allers, 88min

Sun 7 May, 11 am, Cinema 3

To mark Coronation day, Family Film Club will celebrate a cinematic monarch like no other with the original animated version of The Lion King. A chance to re-watch this family Disney classic on the big screen.

Age suggestion: 5+

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (PG)

US 2023, Dirs Joel Crawford & Januel Mercado, 102min

Sat 13 May, 11 am, Cinema 2 

When Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll and he has burned through eight of his nine lives, he launches an epic journey to restore them by finding the mythical Last Wish.

Age suggestion: 7+

Mary and the Witch’s Flower (U)

Japan 2017 Dir. Hiromasa Yonebayashi 103min (Dubbed)

Sat 27 May, 11am, Cinema 2                                      

A charming animation from Studio Ghibli’s Hiromasa ‘Maro’ Yonebayashi, adapted from Mary Stewart’s children’s book The Little Broomstick.

Age suggestion: 5+

+ Free pre-film workshop

Sat 27 May, 10am, Cinema Café   

A free artist led workshop themed around the FFC screening of Mary and the Witch’s Flower.

Senior Community Screening: One Hand Don’t Clap

US 1988, Dir Kavery Kaul, 92 mins
Mon 29 May, 11am, Cinema 2

Barbican Cinema is delighted to welcome its senior audience to watch the 4K restoration of the documentary directed by Kavery Kaul, which traces the history of calypso and soca music through interviews and performance archive with Lord Kitchener and Calypso Rose.


For up-to-date programme information:

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, as well as those who find a more informal setting beneficial. Ticket are priced at £6.

For up-to-date programme information:

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.
For up-to-date programme information:

Event Cinema:

NT Live: Best of Enemies (15)

Thu 18 May, 7pm, Cinema 1

David Harewood (Homeland) and Zachary Quinto (Star Trek) play feuding political rivals in James Graham’s multiple award-winning new drama.

Met Opera: Don Giovanni

Sat 20 May, 5.55pm, Cinema 1

Tony Award–winning director Ivo van Hove’s take on Mozart’s tragicomedy re-sets this tale of deceit and shines a light into the dark corners of the story.

ROH Live: The Sleeping Beauty
Sun 28 May, 2pm, Cinema 3

Fairy-tale characters are brought to life through ballet in this family favourite. Tchaikovsky’s music and Oliver Messel’s designs reinvigorate this true gem from the classical ballet repertoire.