Our Cultures: Cinema & Community

Sheffield is awash with venues and organisations presenting films in and for the community – from occasional screenings of local productions at Café #9 to Q&A events at the Showroom, from one-off events to regular monthly screenings courtesy of groups like Sharrow Reels and Crookes Community Cinema (showing The Lion King on 4 March).

Sheffield innovators The Magic Lantern Film Club and Handmade Cinema show only a handful of films each year, but offer bold, interactive and often immersive events. Comparative newcomers, Reel Steel Cinema provide reviews as well as screenings, while Rare Giants showcase culturally significant films that have "benefited from restoration and/or preservation".

It’s not easy to run community cinema, nor is it cheap. Regather Works frequently screens films with social significance, often alongside community discussion (like last month’s film, In Our Hands, and 15 March’s Resilience), charging fairly mainstream ticket prices. Non-profits such as Andro & Eve run on a similar basis, in their case showcasing films that celebrate queer culture. Sharrow Reels, Crookes Community Cinema and others including Reel Femme (screening Venus at DINA on 6 March) provide low-cost screenings, while Café #9, Showroom Shorts, Rare Giants and Our Cultures generally run free events.

Our Cultures is a Burngreave initiative working to stimulate and encourage "cultural dialogues, mutual understanding, social inclusion and social integration among the majority and minority ethnic communities" of Sheffield, including via visual culture. As part of its monthly film programming, the group recently showed A Whisper to a Roar (Ben Moses, 2012), about democracy activists in five different countries. In March, Our Cultures will explore Mali’s culture, on 6 March screening Mali Blues (Lutz Gregor, 2016). Go along to discover how Mali’s musicians responded to the music ban imposed by radical Islamist forces that took over northern Mali in 2012–2013, and explore further the windows offered into different cultures and different ways of thinking so often made available through community cinema.

Samantha Holland


Phantom Thread

From real-life scandals to peak TV moving away from the trope of the white man’s burden, it seems pop culture is waking up to the lie of the difficult man, that insufferable arse whose transgressions are nonetheless excused on the grounds of his genius. It turns out they’re not so easily excused. It’s a defence that’s rolled out for everyone from Don Draper to Pablo Picasso.

In Phantom Thread, that genius-arse is Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, in purportedly his final ever acting role), a fussy haute couture fashion designer living and working in 1950s London. The challenge to his less appealing traits comes in the form of Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young woman he meets on a seaside holiday.

Reynolds is as exacting when it comes to his work as he is with his appearance, his never-strayed-from daily routine, and his breakfast. He is extremely particular about the latter, the setting for the disposal of a succession of lovers, usually with the help of his sister, business partner and co-conspirator Cyril (a wonderfully, quietly venomous Lesley Manville). That is, until he meets Alma, who is impressed by Reynolds, but not dazzled into submission.  

Instead, Alma provides the first real challenge to his extreme pedantry that he’s ever faced. She’s as strong-willed as he is, even when she’s being seduced by the beauty of his dresses.

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth film is mostly a two-hander between the combative couple, their courtship resembling variously that of Brief Encounter’s Laura and Alec, Jane Eyre and Mr Rochester, and the tangled creator-muse relationship in Powell and Pressburger’s Red Shoes.

Even bearing in mind those clear forebears,Phantom Thread has the ability to surprise and shock. Yet throughout its ups and downs, it remains a love story, if an unconventional one, helped along by a swooningly romantic score from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, who also provided the soundtrack to Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and The Master, and some gorgeously sun-kissed visuals.

Tom Baker


Hosted by Stephen Chase

Dir. Sergei Parajanov, 1969
Mon 5 Mar | 6:30pm | The Void, Sheffield Hallam | Free
Rare Giants present a rare screening of Sergei Parajanov’s strange, near psychedelic take on Armenian folk traditions. A new 4K restoration of a film widely regarded as one of the most visually arresting in film history. raregiants.com

Dir. Rungano Nyoni, 2017
Sun 11 Mar | 3:30pm (hard-of-hearing) and 7:30pm | Nelson Mandela Auditorium, SU | £3/£1.50
A young girl in Zambia is placed on trial, accused of witchcraft for an insignificant incident, sparking wider intrigue across the country. A dramatic satire on western attitudes to Africa as much as it is a commentary on gender discrimination, with a commanding central performance. filmunit.org.uk

Dir. Daigo Matsui, 2016
Tue 6 Mar | 6:15pm | Showroom Cinema | £8.80/£6.60
A twisting, anarchic, experimental mystery thriller spinning out in several directions at once from the disappearance of a young woman whose missing person poster becomes the focal point for a series of odd, often violent events. Part of Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2018. showroomworkstation.org.uk

Dir. Wes Anderson, 2018
UK national release 30 March (TBC)
Japan. The future. Dogs have been banished due to an outbreak of ‘canine flu’. A boy sets out in search of his dog, assisted by five plucky dogs from the island. Anderson returns to stop motion after Fantastic Mr Fox, voiced by an all-star cast, including Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Greta Gerwig and Edward Norton.