Archives for category: Free Cinema School


Still from ‘Democracy at Work’ (c) BBC-TUC film archive

FREE, no booking required


Centre for Possible Studies
21 Gloucester Place
London W1U 8HR (on the corner of George Street)

November’s Free Cinema School Salon revisits the histories of Pedagogical Film in the UK. Hosted by artist, Margareta Kern with artists from, see excerpts from videos that were made as part of the television series ‘Democracy at Work’ – a collaboration between the BBC Further Education department, Trade Union Education Service, Workers Educational Association and Sheffield University Extra-Mural department, aired on the BBC in 1978. These television programmes were accompanied by a detailed booklet, and available to trade union members to be used as tools for education, agitation and worker organisation. The videos cover topics such as job satisfaction, industrial democracy, safety at work, worker representatives on the board, role of the women in trade union movement, nursery provision in industry, obtaining information from management and history of collective bargaining. In re-visiting these videos, this Salon will explore how films were utilised historically as pedagogical tool for empowerment of the workers, in order to re-think its current status in the context of contemporary disempowerment of unions and workers.

For more information please contact:
Janna Graham, Education Projects Curator

Amal Khalaf, Assistant Curator, Projects
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(c) Banner Theatre

Free Cinema School Salon: A Biased History of Political Theatre


with Frances Rifkin and Dave Rogers

Saturday 25 February 2012, 5-7pm
Centre for Possible Studies
21 Gloucester Place, London, W1U 8HR


In residence at the Centre for Possible Studies are theatre director Frances Rifkin, members of collective, Karen Mirza and Brad Butler in collaboration with the Migrant Resource Centre and Implicated Theatre, exploring the relationship between political speech and action through a series of experimental theatre workshops.

This Free Cinema School Salon, Frances Rifkin (Utopia Arts) and Dave Rogers (Banner Theatre) will be visiting histories of political theatre in the UK.

See more information here:

Banner Theatre:

Frances Rifkin, artistic director of Utopia Arts is a cultural worker and director in Political and Community theatre. In the 1970s she was director of Recreation Ground Theatre Company and in the 1980s she was director of Banner Theatre, Birmingham and participated as a theatre activist in the anti-fascist movements, disputes and strikes of the time. She trained extensively with Augusto Boal in the early 1990s and worked as a workshop leader. Between 1992 and 1997, she was lecturer in Community and workshop theatre in Theatre Studies at Warwick and Lancaster Universities.

Dave Rogers, artistic director of Banner Theatre, was a founder member of Banner in 1973. He has written many of the company’s songs and written or co-written several shows, including Free for All(1999/2000), Black and White in the Red (2000/2), Migrant Voices (2002/3), Wild Geese (2005/6) and “They get free mobiles…don’t they?” (2007/8). Dave, whose musical roots are in the English folk revival of the 1960s/1970s, has recorded many of Banner’s songs.

More on Direct Speech Acts


Initiated as part Karen Mirza and Brad Butler’s residency with the Edgware Road Project, Direct Speech Acts has developed into nine months of intensive theatre workshops, performances and research at the Centre for Possible Studies. Led by theatre director Frances Rifkin, the experimental workshops explore the relationships between political speech and action, the self and the collective, voice and silence. The group involved in the project has come together through the close working relationship of the Centre for Possible Studies and the Migrant Resource Centre.

The theoretical basis for this practice is the work of the Brazilian director Augusto Boal (1931-2009). Boal’s conception of the ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ explicitly challenges the divisions between active and passive states or subjects. In his work, Boal argues that we are all spect-actors – spectators and actors who shape and reflect on the world around us. Influenced by thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and the pedagogue Paolo Freire, Boal travelled internationally to explore the situations of the oprimido – the oppressed – who, Boal stresses, should not refer to the condition of being defeated, being victims, but of a struggle against oppression.

At the Centre for Possible Studies, these workshops have led onto the development of a theatre collective, titled ‘Implicated Theatre’, as well as a growing archive of writing, still and moving images, and performances in community spaces such as the Migrant Resource Centre. Implicated Theatre have collectively created an ethical stage – a shared space to explore the ghosts of history and politics. Initially focused on the personal, Implicated Theatre have developed relationships and techniques which support investigations into the grand narratives that shape its participants lives.

Members of Implicated Theatre include director Frances Rifkin with Carlo Bellanova, Monika Burzykowska, Brad Butler, Simin Cox, Janna Graham, Karem Ibrahim, Yemane Kassa, Amal Khalaf, Grace Kyne-Lilley, Tatsiana Lizahle, Elizabeth Mahlanze, Laura Marziale, Karen Mirza, Liudmila Novikova, Luca Pieri, Qing Ren, Edelquinn Neri Santiago, Enrico Sibour and Rafael Zamuriano

Coming up

On the Edgware Road
6 – 28 March 2012


On the Edgware Road makes public three years of research generated by the Serpentine’s Edgware Road Project. The exhibition includes installations, films and performances, both at the Serpentine Gallery and at the Centre for Possible Studies, the Project’s home.

Salon at the Centre for Possible Studies with Emily Wardill

Event is free


64 Seymour Street, W1H 5BW

As part of her residency at the Centre for Possible Studies, London-based artist Emily Wardill will show past work and excerpts of films that are influencing her current process. Wardill is collaborating with people from London’s Migrant Resource Centre through workshops that explore the use of melodrama in the process of making and question of how the making of a film can open up political processes for all those involved. The workshops are in preparation for a feature film by Wardill that has been co-commissioned by If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution, Amsterdam, Serpentine Gallery, London, and Film London’s FLAMIN, co-produced with City Projects and supported by M HKA, Antwerp and Badischer Kunstverein.


Still from Shawky's Cabaret crusades: The Horror Show File (2010)

Free Cinema School Salon, Wednesday 6th April, 7-9pm

64 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BW


April’s Free Cinema School Salon will be hosted by resident artist, Wael Shawky.  Wael will be presenting a selection of films from Egypt,  a discussion will follow.

We are really excited to have Wael  in residence this month and hope that you can join us for this evening event.

Associated Event:

Artist Talk: Wael Shawky

Friday 8 April 2011, 6.30pm
Delfina Foundation

29 Catherine Place, SW1E 6DY

Free event. To book, please email

(Please see:

Wael Shawky lives and works in Alexandria, Egypt.  Last year he launched MASS Alexandria, the first Independent Studio Program for young artists in Alexandria, Egypt, Shawky has received international acclaim for his work as an artist and filmmaker.  Shawky has held solo shows internationally, including the Citta Dell’Arte, Italy (2010), Gentili Apri, Berlin (2009), the Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland (2007), and Ludwigsburg Kunstverein in Germany (2005) as well as presenting work at the Venice Biennale (2003, 2005).  In February 2011, he was awarded the Ernst Schering Foundation Art Award .  From 15th April 2011, you can see Wael Shawky’s work at Nottingham Contemporary (

His residency with the Edgware Road Project will be undertaken in two parts, April 2011 and then in Summer 2011.  His residency is in collaboration with the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and the Delfina Foundation, London.

Free Cinema School Salons in Cairo and London

London Free Cinema School Salon: Wednesday 1 December, 7-9pm at the Centre for Possible Studies

In London, the Free Cinema School Salon will screen Maha Maamoun’s Domestic Tourism II, 2008. Taking the form of a video collage, the film considers how the Pyramids of Giza have been embedded in the narratives of Egyptian films throughout the country’s cinematic history. As in Domestic Tourism I, 2005, a series of digitally manipulated images of Cairo, Maamoun appropriates touristic representations of Egypt to provide a point of entry for exploring the city on a deeper social, political and psychological level. In this context, the ‘tourism’ of the work’s title refers not only to a means of navigating and discovering a place, but also to a relationship to one’s environment that is both intimate and distant.

Maha Maamoun lives and works in Cairo, Egypt. Working principally in film and photography, Maamoun often uses generic visual representations of Cairo to explore how these intersect with, and are negotiated by, personal experiences. She is one of the founding members of CIC – the Contemporary Image Collective- a space for contemporary art and culture in Cairo. Maamoun’s work has been shown in biennials and exhibitions including: Homeworks 5, Beirut, 2010; Past of the Coming Days, Sharjah Biennial 9, 2009; PhotoCairo 4, CIC, 2008; Global Cities, Tate Modern, 2007, C on Cities, 10th Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2006; Snap Judgments, ICP, 2006; DAK’ART 6, 2004; 5th Biennale of African Photography, Bamako, 2003. In 2005, she was co-curator of PhotoCairo3, an international visual arts festival in Cairo, and in 2007 an assistant curator for Meeting Points 5, an international multidisciplinary contemporary arts festival. She recently had a residency at Apexart, New York City.

Cairo Free Cinema School Salon: Wednesday 1 December, 7-9pm @ Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cairo 10 Nabrawy Street, off Champollion Street, Downtown, Cairo

In Cairo, local actor Khalid Abdalla and London-based artists Brad Butler and Karen Mirza will show Free Cinema School, 2009, a 50-minute film involving over 60 participants, which the artists made during their residency at the Centre for Possible Studies in Summer 2009. Taking as its subject the local environment of the Edgware Road, the film has been described as one of the most thrilling films to be created in Britain this year’ (Vertigo Magazine, 2009). This Salon will provide the opportunity to ask questions that reflect not only on the work’s achievements but also on its limitations, and create a forum for debate on the issues affecting future proposals for projects with local specificity, in terms of both filmmaking and of ‘educational’ practices. Read the rest of this entry »

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THE GIFT by Shler B Murdochy

Free Cinema School Audience: Can you tell us a bit about the story of this film, and why you chose this topic?

Shler B Murdochy: There are many issues about women’s lives that interest me; so many things that they have to deal with. I always wanted to work with women and to compare their different cultures and lifestyles, the different problems they have. This story revolves around the interaction between two different women who live in London: one who is middle class, and is desperate for a child but cannot have one herself, and another, a refugee with a baby that she cannot afford to care for. Aware of the impossibilities of her situation, the refugee mother decides to leave her own child on the doorstep of the middle class woman’s home. My point was to show that such things actually happen often, but you don’t ever get to hear about them. I am revealing how silent they are. The reality in this film is no one is without problem, as human beings we are always lacking something that we so badly longing for. However, in some cases our needs are as basic as the need for a piece of bread or a shelter, a need for survival but sometimes the need for human interaction is no less important. Sometimes by helping each other we can complete one another as the two women do in this film.

FCSA: How did you manage to finance this film?

SBM: This movie was realised entirely from the passion for film-making of the people around me. I made this movie with only a few hundred pounds, and I generally financed it myself. I filmed all the scenes within one house, primarily due to budget restrictions. We could not afford to film in many places, because of expenses for permissions. There were many people working for free: I had a student cameraman, and we had borrowed technical equipment from their school. The quality of the film is equal to the equipment that we had.

FCSA: How easy or difficult did you find it to market this independent production?

SBM: The marketing is the most difficult part of the whole process! Especially with this kind of story, in which things unravel quite slowly. But I have managed to have it shown in a few festivals, so that has been great.

FCSA: Your film featured two men specifically: one as the rapist of the refugee woman, and another who cheats on his wife repeatedly before leaving her. What was the motivation behind these characters?

SBM: (laughs) I didn’t do it on purpose! I honestly have nothing against men. I just focused the story on the two female protagonists; the men just provide the backdrop. The men in this film one happened to be a smuggler, and as my friend said, you can’t expect more than that of smugglers. The other is an example of thousands of men who have broken relationships with their wives.

FCSA: How did you come to choose short film as your medium?

SBM: Actually, I don’t think I am very good with shorts. I do prefer making features and I have a few feature length scripts, which I have been trying to get funds for in the hope to get them onto the big screen. Last year I have produced a feature film. But I have chosen short because it cost less and it is forgivable to make mistakes, and nobody holds you responsible when it doesn’t get distributed, particularly with this film which was made with a couple of hundreds.

FCSA: Re-watching your film with this audience, what would you change, if anything?

SBM: I would flesh out the relationship between these two women, which I think has infinite nuances. Also making the whole thing less sentimental and emotion seeking because I have criticized other films for that reason myself.

ROJIN by Chiman Rahimi

Free Cinema School Audience: Can you tell us a bit about the story of this film, and why you chose this topic?

Chiman Rahimi: The protagonist of my story, Rojin, is a young Kurdish woman working as a hotel maid in London, who is haunted by her traumatic past from her homeland. Her life seems relatively balanced, until the day that her past literally catches up with her in the foyer of the hotel in which she works. The film reflects on the experiences of many innocent women in Iran who choose to defend freedom. I see things like this, and I want to express them. In this film I particularly wanted to explore the ramifications of torture.

FCSA: Your realisation of Rojin’s trauma was particularly effective; as the audience, we could not see it, but we could definitely feel it. This sets an example for independent Kurdish film-makers, I want to see more female filmmakers!

CH: I am glad that you see this short film as a positive project. I would love to make more films but as we all know, in order to make more films you need both financial support and a great team around you. At the moment I know of a good team, but I have no particular prospects for sponsorship

FCSA: What was the cost of the movie?

CH: It was not cheap, but I did want to have professionals participating. I actually financed it from my personal savings. Maybe next time I should rob a bank! I thought that after postproduction wrapped, the costs would be over; I did not anticipate how much money we would still need just in order to enter the film into festivals! Still, my producer managed to send it to a few places.

FCSA: Why did Rojin, encountering this figure from her past, ultimately not take action, having previously been so committed to revenge?

CH: Sometimes there is a big gap between what you wish to execute, and what you can actually do in reality. For me, as the director of this short film, it was more important to explore the fact that many who have previously acted as oppressors are now walking freely as high ranking diplomats in the streets of London, and all over Europe, and nobody can touch them.

FCSA: Was Rojin’s reason for refraining because, at the moment of action, she saw him with a pregnant woman?

CH: In certain circumstances, I believe, it is in fact more difficult to forgive than it is to revenge. The pregnant woman whom Rojin glimpsed is a symbol, she diverts Rojin’s attention from her course of action and returns her to her past.

FCSA: Yes, your film contained a great deal of symbolism. What does she represent to you, this woman who decided not to take revenge?

CH: She represents a lot of people who are forced to live in exile and adapt to a new country; who go on to build new lives, but who are ultimately unable to leave behind issues from their past. I really tried to display the frustration of these lingering burdens more than anything else. Ready to revenge, Rojin stalks her target, literally her burden- she is absolutely ready to let go of all that she has built – but when she sees the pregnant woman, she is finally able to release her burden.

FCSA: If you had a chance to revisit this project, what would you change?

CH: I would have spent more time choosing the people that I work with. I would get to know them better, and I would make sure that they are happy and capable of doing the things that I want to achieve. Also, I would definitely set aside extra money for sending the project on to film festivals.

FCSA: I think there are so many issues to discuss in this movie; it is appropriate for this intimate setting, rather than a big screening after which people just leave without saying a word.

CH: I agree. I’d love to come back here, it would be great to discuss more next time about how to rob the bank …

03 November 19:00 – 21:00

Centre for Possible Studies
64 Seymour Street
W1H 5BW London, United Kingdom

More info As a continuation of last month’s salon, Messages from Paradise-About the Permanent Longing for Elsewhere where we began a discussion on perceptions of migration from either side of the border, this month London-based Kurdish filmmakers Chiman Rahimi and Shler Murdochy present films exploring how experiences transcend the border.

Screenings of Rojin (2010) by Chiman Rahimi and The Gift (2008) by Shler Murdochy as well as other short films will be followed by discussion with the filmmakers.

07 October 19:00 – 21:00

Centre for Possible Studies
64 Seymour Street
London, United Kingdom

More info This month the Free Cinema School invites Daniela Swarowsky to present films from her series ‘Messages from Paradise – About the permanent longing for elsewhere’. A discussion with Daniela Swarowsky will follow the screening. Read the rest of this entry »

02 October 12:00 – 17:00

Centre for Possible Studies
64 Seymour Street
W1H 5BW London, United Kingdom

More info The Free Cinema School is an ongoing process of investigation of the relationship between cinematic theory and practice in a London neighbourhood. Over the last year and a half The Free Cinema School has engaged in productions as well as screenings and discussions. We have re-visited the principles of the first Free Cinema movement but also raised questions about what ideas like ‘Free’, ‘Cinema’ and ‘School’ might mean today. We…… are hosting an afternoon study group to discuss and make a script/manifesto/pamphlet that addresses the issues that have come up around the making of a Free Cinema School. We will address questions about the political and pedagogical uses of cinema, the ethics of collaborative film production, cross-cultural ideas about ‘independence’, and what is means to both produce and distribute film in relation to a place. Please bring a short text or quote of interest (from any source) to reflect on your experience or conceptions of what the future of a Free Cinema School might be. The study group is open to newcomers, but previous participants from the Free Cinema School are especially encouraged to attend.

Booking is essential as spaces are limited. Contact

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