Nestling in the recesses of Hammersmith’s secret cinema are old reel-to-reel 16mm and 35mm projectors. Now all that’s needed is a projectionist!
“Seriously – if anyone knows how to operate them, we’d love to hear from them so we can set up a film show,” said Jakub Krupa, a member of the board of the Polish cultural centre, POSK, in King Street, which houses a 300-seat cinema that is starting to make headlines.
Four months ago, the 29-year-old – who first came to London in 2011 from his native Poland to study at UCL, and then LSE – relaunched film shows in the well-equipped space nobody seems to know about, establishing the first Polish community-led non-profit cinema in the UK.
Although all the offerings so far have been digital, there is scope to recreate proper projector film nights, perhaps even with a pianist adding atmosphere to old silent films.
The origins of POSK
Built back in the 1960s and 70s with donations from the capital’s Polish exiles, POSK was built on the site of a decommissioned church, incorporating an adaptable theatre and conference space which also showed Polish films.
Now revived as a cinema, it has been packing in the punters to see award-winning Polish films, all with English subtitles.
Tickets are pegged at just £5.
“Today, 25 per cent of our audiences are non-Polish,” said Jakub, who is proud that the film showings are appealing to a much wider community, as well as all ages. “I consider that our biggest triumph.”
Together with a team of four or five volunteers, Jakub began building a programme of Polish film showings. There have now been seven screenings, pulling in more than 1,200 people.
The emphasis has been on the new generation of Polish film makers, giving a fresh perspective on Poland and how the country has changed.
In November, a joint venture with the East European Resource Centre, the cinema showed a series of films about migration to Britain, including a west London documentary designed to help 1970s Asian migrants settle and integrate.
On Thursday 23 January, the cinema is showing Breaking the Limits, a film which won the audience award at the Gdynia Film Festival. When the UK premiere of the Polish entry for the 2020 Oscars was staged recently, both screenings sold out, and there was a queue for returns!
“It was proof that this concept can work,” said Jakub. “The key thing is encouraging people to bring their friends; it’s good Polish cinema, but it’s not just for Poles.
“We want Hammersmith & Fulham’s non-Polish community to consider this their cinema too. If you bring your friends, you’ll see a good film for £5, support the centre and help us develop the programme.”
As well as cinema, the auditorium also hosts an annual opera show, youth theatre, plays by a London-based Polish stage company, and visiting theatre productions from Poland.
Aside from his passion for film, Jakub is also a keen Fulham FC fan. When he arrived in the UK, he had a flat in Fulham Palace Road, and now attends all the Whites’ games he can.
“Although I currently live in north London, I’m not ruling out a return to Fulham,” he said. “Being closer to Craven Cottage would be great.”
Visit the POSK cinema website for more details.
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