Somerset House, Summer Film Screening 2019
Spanning 14 summer nights, Somerset House becomes London’s largest open-air picture house within the imposingly beautiful piazza, hosting films for every taste and genre. I love going to this London event, and have done so religiously for years becoming something of a die-hard attendee – come rain or shine! I’ve seen Silence of the Lambs, Last of the Mohicans, Jackie Brown, to name but a few and appear to have the luck of the Irish when it comes to the weather, as no matter how black or ominous the sky may look, it always stays dry.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself at one of their premieres, it just might be introduced by one of the movie’s stars. I watched Inception some years ago and to our astonishment Michael Caine announced the movie himself. This year’s screenings kicked off with the UK premiere of ‘Pain and Glory’, starring Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz, and was introduced by the film’s director Pedro Almodóvar. Numerous film-industry creatives give insightful behind-the-scenes talks, making your visit a great immersive experience.
Outside Somerset House Film Screening
Maybe you just want to throw down a beanbag (a super comfy addition this year), open a bottle and lay out a picnic with friends? This is one of the best bits about these screenings, as you are welcome to have a damn good socialise before ‘curtain up’. It’s a great (1/2 way location) excuse to meet up with friends who perhaps live on the other side of the city. Stuffy, burgundy-velvet-seated, popcorn-stink, hushed, old-school cinema rules, it is not (you are allowed to bring popcorn). Alfresco movie nights with your own friendly cast, what unfiltered joy. I make sure I get to the doors way early to ensure great seats for me, hubby & friends (sad movie geek yes I know), and you can always tell the newbies (no jackets or blankets) from the annual regulars (picnic baskets, GnT cans, HEAPS of blankets).
The formal enormity of the piazza, lends the evening its own historic wide-screen setting, brilliantly at odds with the contemporary style and pace of ‘The Matrix.’ The grandeur and tradition of the architecture housing the brutal Midlands’ skinheads in ‘This is England’; the venue standing back, letting the films have their day, or indeed night. If you like your films a little less spikey, this year’s screenings also included ‘Clueless’ and ‘The Princess Bride’, contrasting with the Hip Hop classic, ‘Straight Outta Compton’. Those walls never thought they’d hear NWA’s soundtrack at full tilt.
More music is provided by DJ sets, while those without a picnic can feast on Bryn Williams’ menu or Jimmy Garcia’s BBQ Club.
If you like your images still as well as moving through a lens, they also run art exhibitions alongside the films. Limited editions are created especially for the current movie, allowing you to have a special ‘film-art viewing’ during your visit. Somerset House open-air films ran from 8-21 August.
While we’re on exhibitions, the UK’s first black feature film director was Horace Ové and his son, Zak Ové, has curated ‘Get Up, Stand Up Now’. This exhibition celebrates 50 years of black history and creativity in Britain and beyond. It’s a multi-sensory showcase for black people’s talent in film, design, art and music. Running until 15th September in the West Wing Galleries.
The ‘Kaleidoscope: Immigration and Modern Britain’ exhibition is running until 8th September, in the Charles Russell Speechly’s Terrace Room. It charts identity and immigration in modern Britain, through the eyes of those contributing to our multi-cultural nation during challenging times.
When the lights go down and the movie kicks off, I love to think of it as a pure ‘London moment’. So Somerset House this summer has got to be worth a visit. For films, tinsel-town talks, movie-art and exhibitions running to the middle of September, this should be your Summer Set.
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