Hackney’s Cine-Real film club celebrates magic of cinema with podcast and virtual screening
- Credit: Archant
Clapton cinephile Umit Mesut and film-maker Liam Saint-Pierre explore the music and animation in 1933’s King Kong ahead of a virtual screening at The Castle Cinema
A new monthly podcast and free virtual screening of Hollywood classic King Kong is the latest way that Hackney cinephile Umit Mesut is keeping the spirit of movie-going alive.
Mesut’s Clapton emporium Umit&Son is thought to be the last cine shop in Britain and stocks an eclectic mix of videos, Super 8, 16mm films, projection equipment, snacks and sweets.
Since 2011, Umit and film-maker Liam Saint-Pierre have run monthly 16mm film club Cine-Real.
But thanks to the pandemic, their next event will take place in an empty cinema with sharing service BBC Together ensuring that up to 2,000 viewers can watch it live via a link.
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To “whet appetites” ahead of the July 30 screening, Liam and Umit host a podcast exploring the making of the 1933 classic King Kong, with expert guests.
Hackney producer Joe Paley, who co-produced the podcast with cousin Marc Gosschalk, hopes it will bring Umit’s passion to a wider audience.
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“He has this nice little shop which is very museum-like near Clapton Square and started off as a projectionist at the Rio in Dalston 40-odd years ago. Liam made this amazing documentary about him called The Way of the Dodo and they started running film nights off the back of that.”
“We’re releasing the podcast a week before the screening so people can nerd up on the music and stop motion animation before they watch. Liam and Umit give an introduction and whet people’s appetite for the film.”
When Umit screens Kong in The Castle Cinema in Chatsworth Road, viewers at home can watch him changing the reels of 16mm film.
“Umit says that watching old films on digital formats loses something of the magic and feeling of the cinema experience. He is on a mission to keep that experience alive.”
The podcast delves into Willis O’Brien’s groundbreaking animation and Max Steiner’s score for the 1933 movie. Umit, who has neither Wifi nor mobile phone relied on Liam’s smartphone to patch them through to Steiner biographer Steven C Smith, and animator Dan Richards to talk about the film.
Smith tells the duo how Kong was the first Hollywood “talkie” to have a feature-length musical score, which played a critical part in its success, and became a template for how movies are scored to this day.
“(co-director) Merrian C Cooper knew that the music was going to be crucial if this movie was to succeed. It is very emotionally intense and is a critical component to making us feel the way we do about King Kong.”
Fascinating facts include the movie being awarded a new rating of H for horror, and the sound of Kong’s bellow being created by a lion’s roar played backwards.
The movie failed to take any Oscars partly because there wasn’t a gong for visual effects until 1938. And when new censorship rules were introduced in 1935, several scenes had to be cut. Because the original print was destroyed, the only full uncut print, discovered in 1969 was on 16mm.
Umit’s 16mm copy includes all the restored scenes and he tells the podcast:
“I was nine or 10 the first time I watched King Kong at a friend’s house and I remember it like yesterday. I watch it four times a year and it grabs me every time.”
He adds that transferring classic movies to digital format “can over-do it”.
“It’s too clean and doesn’t look filmic any more. There’s something about the texture the colour that it takes something away.”
The next Cine-Real screening - of Jaws - will be in real life at the Regent’s Street Cinema on September 17. It too will be preceded by a podcast with guest experts.
As the venue where the Lumiere Brothers hosted the first showing of moving picture images in Britain in 1896, it seems an appropriate spot to bring the magic of cinema back home.